Greatham Creek Seal Hide

Leeds Beckett University, Leeds School of Architecture , Middlesbrough , 2018


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Abstract Machine Studio (Keith Andrews)     Download Original

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A seal hide between Middlesbrough and Hartlepool.

In September 2017, BMMJV, (a joint venture between BAM Nuttall and Mott MacDonald), working on behalf of the Environment Agency, RSPB and Teesside Environmental Trust, approached a number of universities for expressions of interest in the design and erecting of a seal and bird hide. The hides were to be located in a newly created tidal salt marsh at Greatham Creek between Middlesbrough and Hartlepool.

The budget of the project was a lump sum of £100k, with a completion date of November 2018. The client group elected to run with Leeds Beckett Universities, Abstract Machine Studio, which is part of the Leeds School of Architectures, MArch course. The Abstract Machine Studio are proponents of digital design and fabrication methodologies in architecture, with a track record in the design and production of built works.

Students of the Abstract Machine met with the consortia of interested parties in February 2018 presenting a range of initial designs. The designs were well-received, leading to a final design of both the bird and seal hide being developed by both students and alumni of the studio. The designs were presented to the client in April 2018 and signed off for production. Abstract Machine worked with both the overall contractor BMMJV, (who also supplied all consultant services), and the specialist steel fabricator SH Structures in bring the project to completion on site.

The seal and bird hides are both Cor-Ten steel fabrications, overlooking the estuary and newly created salt marsh. The ornate faceted façade and associated framing were defined using a parametric model. The hide is partially submerged, reducing the apparent size. A panoramic slot elevates the facade, appearing to hover above the bank, allowing views out from just over grass level. A crescent moon roof offers protection over the observation points, while maintaining the framing of the sky.


  • Begun: Oct 2018
  • Completed: Nov 2018
  • Floor area: 36m2
  • Sector: Arts and culture
  • Total cost: £100,000
  • Funding: The Environment Agency & RSPB
  • Tender date: Aug 2018
  • Procurement: JCT Minor Works
  • Address: Seaton Carew Road (A178) Tees Road, Middlesbrough , TS25 2DD, United Kingdom

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