Urban Structures are the New Design at the Festival of Britain

feral fox photo

Photo: B. Alter

The original Festival of Britain in 1951 was a huge celebration of British culture, design, art, science and ingenuity. Now its 60 year anniversary is being celebrated on the banks of the Thames in London.

But these are different times and one of the keynotes of the exhibits is a recognition of sustainability and environmentalism in the future. Hence the urban fox on patrol...

barr ier photo

Photo: B. Alter

In addition to endless concerts,lectures, music and art there are themed areas called 'lands', which relate to significant themes from 1951.

In the Land, the countryside comes to the city. Enclosure is a piece of artwork consisting of three traditionally made dry stone walls and a wooden gate. It is a reminder of the rural and agricultural heritage of the country. The fields and handmade walls that dot the British countryside are changing as encroaching cities and loss of agricultural land threatens their future

wall south photo

Photo: B. Alter

Each wall was made of stone native to three different parts of Britain and with the techniques of that area. South Wales (Blue Pennant sandstone), the Lake District (Borrowdale volcanic) and Scotland (Whinstone) are each represented.

wales coal photo

Photo: B. Alter

Black Pig Lodge was created by two environmental artists, Ivor and Heather Morison. They created it out of the coal from a working mine in Wales. The outside is rough and looks like shingles. The inside is shiny and polished and contains a bench for reflection. The artists met miners who lived and worked through the change from coal mining as an industry to the closing down of the mines and the loss of community and jobs as a result.


Photo: B. Alter

These stairs are made from shipping containers and pallets and provide a new route down from the upper level. The project is a celebration of "the new architecture of borrowing, re-purposing and adapting." Recycled wood from a recycling company which collects it from local businesses in Oxford was used. After the show is over, it will be recycled back to the store. One of the men who worked on the project actually visited the original Festival of Britain as a child.

south garden photo

Photo: B. Alter

Water pumped from the ventilation system in a near-by concert hall is diverted through the staircase to irrigate a planting scheme on the new terraces.

As for that giant urban fox: it is an ironic symbol of British wildlife. Given their presence in city garbage cans and the campaign to stop fox hunting what are they: pet or pest?

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