Shifting Horizons, Towards a non-Deterministic Urbanism

When standing on the ground there is hardly any sense of distance in Westland. The horizon has become occluded by a landscape of almost uninterrupted glasshouses that have evolved into a uniform character over the last 200 to 300 years. Within the glasshouses new ground horizons are being added in order to increase horticultural yields, most notably a layer of mineral wool now covering over half the ground surface of all glasshouses, and plastic sheeting used to retain water.

By contrast, the sea-clay landscape and geology of Westland reveals large differences within a relatively small area. These other, hidden landscape horizons are related to the natural forces of water and wind that have moulded and built the layers of sand and clay now lying under the glasshouses. Embedded within some of these horizons lie traces of ancient settlement and Mediaeval land use. The forces that have shaped these layers have been held in check by the growth of horticulture.

'Shifting Horizons' introduces new configurations of these older and contemporary layers on the margins of the glasshouse landscape. Each shift invites the glasshouse operator to engage with the layers in the ground and the natural forces of wind and water to shape again the landscape and to eventually become manifest as new recreational and work orientated horizons.

The five proposals aim to stimulate the glasshouse operators towards the making of depth in the landscape, shifting and interfering between past, present and future layers offering new relationships between living, working and recreation: drifting dune landscape, winter lakes with summer wilderness gardens, recreational fallow fields, archaeoligical excavation as collective yards and extended woodland habitats for animals and mankind alike.

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On a way of working

The models were made as a means of exploring potential relationships between the older geological layers of the ground and the newer man-made layers belonging to the glass house and the glasshouse operator's house. The development of the models revealed a slow entwining and mix of these older and newer layers. From each entwining came a 'temporal order'; a re-configuration of a relationship between inhabitation and the shift in the landscape. The models were made at a scale of 1:50, a scale that helps in bridging the scale of buildings with that of geology. The first models were sliced, the section scanned then used as a drawing template. This led to the set of drawings of the five shifting horizons.

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 Glasshouse landscape     
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     First sketch model 
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     Sketch model in clay & plaster 
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     Detail 
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     Photomontage of model in Westland 
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     Photomontage of model in Westland 
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 Plan of Westland,   5 Shifting Horizons 
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     3 layers & evolution of glasshouse 
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     Full size model on show, with cast