Flood House

Matthew Butcher, UCL, Southend-on-Sea, 2016

 

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A temporary floating weather station

Flood House existed as a temporary floating structure, weather station and associated public art programme that set out to explore both practical and poetic notions of dwelling in a landscape that is consistently under threat from flooding.

The project also aimed to raise awareness of the threat flooding poses to the UK’s coastline. The structure was towed and then moored at several locations in the Thames Estuary in April and May 2016. The sites it visited included Benfleet, Canvey Island, Wakering and Southend-on-Sea.

The design of Flood House references the architecture of the Estuary including fishing sheds, WWII pillboxes, bunkers and Maunsell naval sea forts. It is fabricated in ply and weatherboard, and floats on three steel pontoons. It’s overall floor area was approximately 40.5m2.

The project was conceived in collaboration with Dr Rokia Raslan and Dr Jonathon Taylor at the UCL Institute for Environmental Design and Engineering (IEDE) and was funded through an award from the UCL Bartlett Faculty of the Built Environment Materialisation Grant Programme. Accompanying the structure was a public programme developed by independent curator Jes Fernie and Focal Point Gallery in Southend.

This public programme existed as an artwork located on the structure by artist Ruth Ewan (Tate Britain, London and New Museum, New York) called “All Distinctions Levelled”, a narrative text by Joanna Quinn (The White Review and Comma Press) published online and performed at the gallery, and a programme of public talks and events organised around the themes of the project.

Flood House was also part of the Radical Essex programme which aims to re-examine the history of Essex in relation to radicalism in thought, lifestyle, politics and architecture. Led by Focal Point Gallery in partnership with Visit Essex and Firstsite, events took place across the county in 2016 and will continue through 2017.

Data

  • Begun: Mar 2016
  • Completed: Apr 2016
  • Floor area: 41m2
  • Sector: Arts and culture
  • Total cost: £30,000
  • Funding: UCL Bartlett Faculty of the Built Environment Materialisation Grant Programme, Focal Point Gallery
  • Tender date: Jul 2014
  • Procurement: Art Commission
  • Address: Focal Point Gallery , The Forum, Elmer Square, Southend-on-Sea, SS1 1NB, United Kingdom