Gardener's World (Future)
Commonage is a five year active architectural research project based in Callan, Co. Kilkenny, Ireland. Now in it’s second year the project aims to provide a critical resource for the future of architecture in the expanded field and development which can be measured in qualitative rather than quantitative terms.
Commonage is Part funded by the Arts Council of Ireland and the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government under the Engaging with Architecture Scheme. We were commissioned by the organiser’s to explore the theme of Commonage, to design and build a project that would develop this theme and be publicly accessible.
Our proposal was to activate a temporary right of way, a walk under taken through the town and its landscape, from ‘the big chapel’ via the Augustinian Abbey meadow through the field containing the remnants of its Motte and Bailey ,to the under pass of the town’s by pass road, through pasture land that now skirts Callan’s ‘new’ Industrial estate, along and over its defunct systems of mill race’s, leading to a brick lined walled garden, the last remaining built element of a Georgian demesne.
Wherein is constructed a structure (perhaps a future potting shed for its gardener’s) to register, through its placement and periscope window, the vertical, intimate and enclosing relationship between the heritage of landscape (cultivated & pasture) and townscape.
Potting table inscription: ‘Behind all things seen lies something vaster; everything is but a path, a portal, or a window opening on something other than itself’ Antoine de saint-Exupery
600 x 400 x 100 mm grasscrete blocks, laid on compacted hardcore /existing earth provide the base, for vegetation and the structure which is defined
by being c&c cut from one bale (40 sheets) of 8 by 4 Birch veneered plywood sheeting,1 tonne in weight. All 365 treated boards, measuring 1220 X 240 X 18mm, are slot jointed and dated for assembly. The base of stacked and over lapped sheets is mechanically pinned to the earth, through the grasscrete by way of 1200mm long 14mm diameter galvanised steel rods, with bolts binding the stacked plywood to act as a ‘ground beam’.
Starter vertical boards are slot jointed and interlocked in to this beam as it is laid. The structure rises from 2.3 to 5.7 metres in height by way of interconnecting the boards through their pre cut slots without any mechanical fixing. 12mm nylon rope is tread through the structure and held / tightened by way of eye bolts and a ‘Haymongers’ knot to bring it into tension.
The structure is completed by its periscope window made with tinted/mirrored acrylic sheet material operated by way of 12mm nylon rope and pulleys.
Grass was sown throughout the grasscrete base with Chamaemelum nobile (lawn Chamomile) sown throughout its interior, which released its scent when walked on.
The intention is that the cladding out of this structure by directly fixing corrugated polycarbonate sheeting to it, allows the structure to become a form of potting shed / green house for the gardener’s to develop plants and ‘planting notions’ while taking in the townscape and its landscape hinterland beyond the Walled Garden.
Area 6 sq.m. Designed in Spring 2011 and Completed Summer 2011