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Ben Morgan Jones Linking the Lands


Index Brief 02 Penarth, South Glamorgan, Wales 04 Brean Down, Somerset, England 06 Analysis 08 Observations, Design Intentions and Concept 10 Development of Idea Formats 12 Brean Down Concept, Idea and Generation 16 Inhabit 18 Explore 20 Observe 22 Experience 24 Exposure 26 Ascend 28 Penarth Concept, Idea and Generation 32 Experimental Concept Modeling and Form Generation 36 Plans and Section 40 Visuals 44 Walkway Construction 52 Models 52 Conclusion 59

Architects - Ben Morgan Jones, Jeremy Yu and Naomi Grieve. Civil Engineers - Mindy Lai and Roy Kou


Brief Based on the “Linking the Lands” brief prepared jointly by the RIBA and the RSAW for the national competition for a third river crossing on the Severn Estuary, The two sites, one each side of the estuary: Brean Down on the English side, chosen as a means of developing the ideas that were derived from the Studio in the City project and on the Welsh side, the headland between Penarth Pier and the Cardiff Barrage, an area of historic significance and cultural opportunity. The project is to design an Observatory and Education/ Exploration Centre that shares it resources each side of the estuary. Working in groups and teamed up with the engineers on what is a relatively short project, there is a need to work with some intensity at the outset in order to open the discussion and start to generate and develop ideas. At a crit, Peter Smithson quizzed one of his student on one of the design decisions that he had made. The student said ‘But you told me to do it. . !’ Peter Smithson retorted ‘As I recall, I suggested that you have a go; that you try it out to see whether it works. . . I’ve tried a great deal of things and very few have worked. . .’. We want you to ‘have a go’ and to try things out, to see if they work, rather than arriving at a idea, and then producing your final models and drawing. We expect you to learn through making discoveries of your own, discoveries that have come about through investigation, exploration, through trial and error, through making mistakes, taking risks. . . through chance, rather than just through a dry, cerebral reasoned process. 3D physical model making is an essential component of this course. Despite very useful CAD modelling techniques, physical model making is an unparalleled and quick method of investigating ideas. It is unlikely that any of your first ideas will be your last, and you must always explore a range of solutions and possibilities for your scheme to discover which option works best. Many of you sit and wonder and agonize over particular decisions – which may be resolved more easily by trying things out. In addition to any idea that you may wish to explore, your project must relate to, and speak its place. Your buildings or structures must not be an abstract exercise, dropped down like a pristine jewel like object onto an unsuspecting site, but must tell us something of where it is and what it does. Understand the topography, geology and environmental conditions and develop a response, complimentary or otherwise but with reason and consideration. They must work in detail with one or more qualities of the site and “communicate” in some form with each other. Your final architectural proposition must be absolutely accurate in how and why it is where, and like it is, and what factors that are specific to the site have shaped it. Social, Historic and Cultural Context. Instead of being a passive viewer, try to understand why each place is as it is and to what degree was it planned in the context of the social ideals that were perceived relevant at the time. How has this changed and how important do you consider those ideals to be and how might you represent or challenge them with your design? Physiognomy – “the inner character or quality revealed outwardly” You should endeavour to use materials carefully, and in a relevant and interesting way. As with the structure of your building, your materials must be chosen to express, and support your central ideas, rather than as an add on. It is always true that the structure of a building should be considered hand-in-hand with the architecture, rather that bolted on at the end to make it stand up with the lowest common denominator structural scheme. Your project should reflect the collaborative and cross discipline nature of your group, and should endeavour to explore, and evaluate a number of structural solutions before arriving at your final proposal. You must show evidence of this through investigative model making, tests, and sketches. Critically, you must have an idea about how your structure ‘relates to’ the rest of the building. Consider, for example, the Department of Architecture and Civil Engineering at the University of Bath, designed by Peter and Alison Smithson. This was considered as a “didactic” building, designed to show at all time the role that the surrounding structure plays in a very literal way. In early work by, say, Team 4 and the Rogers Partnership, these were less literal, but more intellectual articulation of structure – the principle of what you read is more important that the literal expression. Consider also the work of Zaha Hadid, where the structure is not usually literally expressed, but is integrates in a cohesive and consistent way that allows spaces to represent and express key ideas without an intrusive and alien structural system. 2



Penarth, South Glamorgan, Wales. Penarth is a town and seaside resort in the Vale of Glamorgan, Wales, 5.2 miles south west from the Welsh capital city of Cardiff and lying on the north shore of the Severn Estuary at the southern end of Cardiff Bay. The site is situated below Northcliffe, between the end of the Cardiff Barrage and the pier at Penarth. Penarth has a fascinating history and owes its development to the massive expansion of the South Wales coalfield in the 19th century. Its proximity to Cardiff, which was the natural outlet for the industrial valleys of Glamorgan, and its natural waterfront meant that Penarth was ideally situated to contribute in meeting the world’s demand for Welsh coal. But because of its busy commercial docks and the proximity to Cardiff Docks and steelworks, Penarth became a target for Nazi German bombing raids during the Second World War. Historically promoted nationally as “The Garden by the Sea�, it was packed by visitors from the Midlands and the West Country as well as day trippers from the South Wales Valleys. Today the town and its traditional beach front promenade remains a popular draw for visitors and tourists. The sea front remains unspoiled and uncommercialised and the surviving element of the original Victorian pier is a summer staging point for the various pleasure steamers, that ply their trade from time to time in the Bristol Channel and the pier is used as a popular winter sea fishing venue. The town is located at the top of cliffs that have a distinctive strata rock formation that is world known and referred to as the Penarth coeval strata wherever it appears in Britain. The Penarth cliffs are made of interspersed layers of limestone and alabaster, both of which are dry and crumbly rocks. it is the largest known outcrop of naturally occurring Pink Alabaster. The main problem associated with the dry and crumbly nature of the limestone and alabaster rocks, that make up the cliffs that border Penarth, is the continuing and relentless erosion by the sea. Because of the extreme tidal range there are very strong currents or rips close inshore, with speeds that exceed 7 knots, for several hours at each tide. The rise and fall of the tides at Penarth are the second highest recorded anywhere in the world and on occasions when certain moon phases coincide with the spring and autumn equinoxes the sea level can overspill the esplanade wall and flood the roadway, particularly if in conjunction with a high wind. The cliff has retreated many tens of metres even in living memory, with the area around Penarth Head remaining most at threat. 5


Brean Down, Somerset. England. Brean Down is a promontory off the coast of Somerset, standing 320 ft high and extending 1.5 miles into the Bristol Channel at the eastern end of Bridgwater Bay, between Westonsuper-Mare and Burnham on Sea. In 1952 the former Axbridge Rural District Council gave the Down to the National Trust to celebrate the “Festival of Britain�. It is a site rich in wildlife, history and archaeology. At Brean Down there is evidence of a pagan shrine, dating from pre-Roman times which was re-established as a Romano-Celtic style temple in the mid-4th century and was probably succeeded by a small late-4th century Christian oratory. There is also evidence of an Iron age hill fort and prehistoric barrows and field systems. Situated at the seaward point, Brean Down Fort was built on the headland between 1864 and 1871 on the recommendations of the 1859 Royal Commission. It was the most southerly of a chain of defences across the Bristol Channel, protecting the access to Bristol and Cardiff. On the outbreak of World War II the fort was rearmed with two 6" ex-naval guns and machine gun posts were built on the Down. During WWII the site was also used as a test launch site for rockets and experimental weapons, and a large arrow was painted on the down to direct bombers to the practice range. In the 1860s plans were laid for a deep water harbour on the northern shore. The foundation stones of the pier were laid, but the project was later abandoned after a large storm destroyed these foundations. In 1897, following wireless transmissions from Lavernock Point in Wales and Flat Holm, Guglielmo Marconi moved his equipment to Brean Down and set a new distance record for wireless transmission. Brean Down is made of carboniferous limestone, it is a continuation of the Mendip Hills and is nationally famous for it flora and fauna. The nationally rare White Rock-rose is a common species at the site, occurring in abundance on the upper reaches of the grassy south-facing slopes. Other plants on the southern slopes include the Somerset Hair Grass, wild thyme, Ivy Broomrape, Horseshoe Vetch and birds-foot-trefoil. The northern side is dominated by Bracken, bramble, privet, hawthorn, cowslips and bell heather. The birds seen on Brean Down include Peregrine falcon, jackdaw, kestrel, collared and stock doves, whitethroat, linnet, stonechat, dunnock and rock pipit. There are also several species of butterfly including; Chalkhill blue, Dark Green Fritillary, Meadow Brown, Marbled White, small heath, and common blue. 7

Penarth Pier forms a central part of the towns community. Packed with fishers and birdwatchers it is a focal point, almost a iconic reminder of the historic past. Loved by the community it is well used and well maitained.

One thing to note, is the extreme horizontal factor of the beach. Barely an incline, it feels like a vast plane gently touching the waters edge. This very flat surface results in an extreme tidal range, which can vary as much as 15m within the estuary.

A popular fishing location, many residents and visitors often come down to penarth to cast a line, but due to the very inaccessible beach the majority are forced solely to the pier. Which although is an ideal spot for fishing becomes unnecessarily overcrowded.

Very difficult to walk on. Penarth beach is in accessible for many old age and disabled visitors. But yet for those able, it provides a sense of exploration. And with the many fossils located on the beach, it is a perfect location for children to go discover.

The Penarth coeval strata cliffs which line the coastline are steadily eroding due to the continuing assault from the seven estuary, becoming a danger to those on the beach. This erosion is particularly noticeable in the debris that scatters the beach.

To arrive at Brean Down is of a difficult nature. For such a monumental piece of earth it has a very unsuitable means to the peak. A set of steps unbecoming of the event of accession, slowly meander to the top, with no significance or relevance.

With the ability on most days to see western super mare and on a clear day across to Wales, the views from Brean Down are breathtaking, thought provoking to say the least. But at times it becomes difficult to appreciate and overwhelming.

Of significant historical value, the fort is a maze of interesting neglected spaces. Creating a suitable atmosphere for the realization of its historic military past. But these derelict spaces long to be inhabited in some form and yet remain decaying.

The flora and fauna is something that can’t be ignored, Brean Down is a site of natural beauty. But the majority of this beauty is situated along the south cliff slopes. An area that is extremely difficult and dangerous to observe let alone get close too.

There is a sense of exploration and isolation at Brean Down, with an urge to go adventure across rock formation and to the waters edge, in a bid to get to that ideal location where no one else is, just to sit alone and contemplate with oneself.

Observations Horizontal and Vertical Brean Downs physical attributes are ones of a vertical emerging quality. Whilst Penarth’s are of a still horizontal plane. Solitary and Communally At Brean Down it is very easy to congregate as a group on the landscape, with large open areas one could easily converse in a social manor, but to loose oneself and find a solitary place is rather difficult, the landscape of sheer cliffs makes it a significant challenge. Whilst at Penarth the opposite is true, although it is an open plane it is much easier to find some peace, the beach itself is a very inhospitable place to congregate thus deterring the public, so one can find themselves alone easily. Design Intentions To provide for both locations in a manner complementary to found place. Concept To augment and enhance the experience of the landscape by utilizing the found qualities, to provide communal and solitary settings for both Brean Down and Penarth.


Development of sketch plans



The development of idea formats


Brean Down “A Series of Interventions.”


Concept A series of interventions throughout the landscape responding to location. Idea To create and scatter interventions that subtly suggests or enhances the human experiences of Brean Down, in such a manner that they are experienced in a personal solitary way. Providing a situation to easily loose oneself in the surroundings. Generation As a group we dissected Brean Down into experiences that first caught our attention and appealed to us personally. Together we came up with six scenarios, which we analyzed collectively. These experiences were then developed independently into interventions with a common architectural language by the individual that the experience first appealed to. Thus each intervention became a unique meaningful personal piece that responded to location and became part of a collective holistic scheme.




6 4


1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6.


The Fort The Trench The Walkway The Tunnel The Steps The Waters Edge 17

Inhabit - The Fort A series of paths dynamically intertwine through the remains of the fort, to give a narrative of the historical Brean Down. An attempt to inhabit the Military past, the deteriorating essence of the fort is captured and emphasized through the sensitive use of materials and creation of habitable spaces. “Our ignorance of history causes us to slander our own times.� Gustave Flaubert


Explore - The Waters Edge By introducing a stairway down to the water’s edge, an area is created in which the visitor can lose themselves in a sense of solitude and isolation, whilst witnessing a relationship between the static and dynamic elements of the rocky landscape and the waters edge. “Nature has been for me, for as long as I remember, a source of solace, inspiration, adventure, and delight; a home, a teacher, a companion.” Lorraine Anderson.


Observe - The Trench A walkway travels through the landscape much like a trench, designed to give clear eye-level visual experiences of the vegetation and wildlife. With views concentrated back towards the top of the cliff, the visitor is made to feel embedded into the landscape. “There is a way that nature speaks, that land speaks. Most of the time we are simply not patient enough, quiet enough, to pay attention to the story.� Linda Hogan


Experience - The Walkway Weaving in and out of the landscape, this walkway seeks to augment the visitor’s experience of the scale and mass of the rocky landscape by taking them on a journey along the contours of the cliff edge. “It is a wholesome and necessary thing for us to turn again to the earth and in the contemplation of her beauties to know of wonder and humility.” Rachel Carson


Exposure - The Tunnel Designed to enhance the visitor’s sensory experiences, this path pierces down through the landscape and then concludes at the cliff’s edge. Wide enough for only one person, the visitor is abruptly exposed to the elements to evoke a sense of vulnerability in relation to the sheer mass of the landscape. “Forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet and the winds long to play with your hair.” Kahlil Gibran


Ascend - The Steps Aimed to humble and reinforce the visitors experience and understanding of the scale of Brean Down’s landscape, this stairway intermittently changes direction and size. As one progresses to the top, each flight of steps increases in rise and decreases in going and width, hence slowing down and isolating visitors on their journey to the top. “A fine landscape is like a piece of music; it must be taken at the right tempo. Even a bicycle goes too fast.” Paul Scott Mowrer


Penarth “Manscape - An Augmented Landscape.”


Concept To heave the beach into a vertical dimension, creating an augmented man made landscape, “manscape”. Idea To convert the current inaccessible beach into a location that allows for the easy congregation and socialization of the community and visitors, whilst also continuing to provide the current ability for a person to find a solitary place. Generation To create the form of this landscape, we as a group undertook a form generating exercise. Using plasticine, a 1:500 map of penarth, and a set of guide lines; we sculpted our idea. This allowed the scheme to be viewed as a 3 dimensional object, enabling the locating of rock formations, paths, rock pools, communal spaces and facilities, thus forming our “manscape”. From here photos were taken and the scheme was generated into a CAD plan and model to be developed further.


Concept sketch


“With time, many of the facts I learned were forgotten but I never lost the excitement of discovery.” Paul Berg “Being solitary is being alone well: being alone luxuriously immersed in doing of your own choice, aware of the fullness of your won presence rather than of the absence of others. Because solitude is an achievement.” Alice Koller “Nature is my manifestation of God. I go to nature every day for inspiration in the day’s work . I follow in building the principles which nature has used in its domain.” Frank Lloyd Wright 34



Experimental concept modeling and form generation



“Manscape� A series of paths entwine and meander throughout a man made augmented landscape. Aiming to excite the public and encourage exploration and activity. At high tide the paths will seem to float effortlessly on top of the waters surface, but as the tide goes out the landscape hidden beneath will be revealed, leaving many fascinating rock pools and outcrops to explore. In the creating of this man made landscape it is providing a natural sea defence to the Penarth coeval strata, protecting the cliffs from further erosion. With the rock pools providing a man made ecosystem. One that can grow over time, but can be easily viewed and investigated by the public. The design aims to continue the development of the welsh coastline, linking the Cardiff Barrage to Penarth. At 0.64 miles long the landscape consists of four sections: The Coast The coast is intended to be a quieter zone, where the locals and visitors can walk and fish. It stretches from penarth pier to the peak and attempts to provide the fishermen of penarth with somewhere to escape and find a solitary position. The Cove The cove is situated between the peninsular and the peak of the coast. It is full of rock pools and outcrops. A busy social area of the design, it is intended for the adventure and exploration of nature. The Walk This is the lead up from the Cardiff barrage, it is the initial approach for the majority of visitors, and simply offers a gradual taster of the scheme, leading them eventually to the cove. The Peninsular Jetting out into the estuary the peninsular provides views back along the coastline and into the cove. Situated at the tip is a Fish Restaurant, Cafe, Fish Mongers and Tackle Shop, as well as the Environment and Wildlife Education Centre and boat landing. It aims to become a part of the community offering residents and visitors somewhere to congregate other than the pier. 39

The Basement The Plan for the Environment and Wildlife Education Centre was generated from the orientation and intersection of three axial lines, this created a dynamic and flowing plan that attempted to ensure the continuation of movement from the external walkways into the building. It serves to meet the educational interest needs of those in Wales and provides a base for wildlife excursions within the area. Axis The initial entrance axis provides access into the basement, running northwest to southeast, it terminates with a framed view across the seven estuary. The Second Axis running southwest to northeast flows from the entrance axis to the boat landing. The third axis runs north to south, this is a intersecting dead end axis, intended to isolate you and encourage adventure, the axis simply terminates with the external rocky landscape and a view along the extent of the coastline. Exhibition Education Spaces The internal spaces are designed to play with light and views. With carefully placed skylights and windows the basement ensures that light is available in the main exhibition spaces whilst creating darker interstices spaces, providing a contrast and atmosphere. The Building is embedded low enough so at high tide the waves shall be crashing up against certain windows, adding drama to the internal spaces. Boat Landing The Boat landing services as means to provide any day trips to the estuary and surrounding areas. Allowing visitors to go explore the estuary waters, Flat Island, Holm Island and Brean Down.


Materiality The basement internally consists of the same timber and concrete used through out the scheme, creating an almost cave like internal appearance and atmosphere.

The Ground Floor The Ground Floor of the scheme aims to make itself a hub of activity and part of the community, expanding on the famous seaside culture of Penarth, providing a small Cafe, Restaurant, Tackle Shop and Fish Mongers. The scheme intends to draw people out to the tip of the peninsular and present them with the extent of what is available to explore and learn about. External Realm The external realm is intend to become a social area where people can enjoy an ice cream and admire the views of the estuary and coastline. With skylights looking down into the Education centre, visitors can get a glimpse into the spaces below. Cafe Selling fish & chips and ice cream, it is situated in a location to enable the customers to look back into the main cove, creating a visual relationship with the main areas of exploration and social activity. Fish Mongers and Tackle Shop With the intention of the local fishermen to source the fish. The Fish mongers aims to supply the adjacent restaurant, cafe and customers from the local community. With the tackle shop catering to the needs of the fishing community. Fish Restaurant Reasonably priced fresh produce sourced locally. With views beyond the main cove along the stretch of paths that meander through out the scheme. It aims to create a visual link with those who are fishing further down the coastline. Materiality Consisting of timer and concrete, the buildings are roofed using copper sheeting, which pierces the horizon, glinting in the daylight.


Basement Level Section 42



Sketch of scheme, towards peninsular

Initial sketch of man made landscape



Visual of paths, towards Brean Down

Visual of scheme, towards Penarth Pier



Internal visual of exhibition room, Initial sketches of scheme at low and high tide



Top Line (left to right): Visuals of paths at high tide, paths at low tide, entrance axis, fish mongers, fish restaurant

Bottom Line (left to right): Sketch of paths (initial), reception, entrance axis


The Walkways The Walkways that weave in and out of the augmented landscape are in essence a series of bridges. With a maximum span of 5m, they consist of a steel reinforced deck with pile foundations, topped with cedar planks. The augmented landscape itself acts as a tidal barrage protecting the foundations of the bridges and the Penarth Coeval Strata Cliffs from severe erosion, whilst still allowing the tide to gently flow in and out of the landscape, providing rock pools that will not stagnate.


Penarth 1:100 Final Model





Brean Down Tunnel 1:100 Final Model


Conclusion Personally I believe this project represented the way the group worked. It was the combination of collective and individual ideas that resulted in the generation of a holistic scheme and I am very pleased with the result, believing it to be a success in fulfilling the design intentions and my personal goals. Through the design process the interventions proposed at Brean Down to provide an enhanced experience of the landscape became very individual and detailed. Because each intervention was a personal development the result was the creation of schemes that were incredibly thorough, providing personal unique solitary experiences. I believe this level of detail would not have been achievable if the individual connection did not exist. Due to my background I have a close attachment to the Penarth Site, thus when working on this scheme I was able to be extremely passionate. With good intentions, I aimed to guide the scheme in a direction that I believed would be a benefit to the people of Penarth and Wales. Thus I am very found of this proposal and believe that it would create a good social community whilst adding to heritage of Penarth.


Linking the Lands  

3rd Year Project

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