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Archive for March, 2011


That word I needed before.

The useful faculty spaces are going to be permanent (in terms of building lifetime) but removable structures, while the sea defence has a seemingly shorter lifespan (colour and material will emphasise this)

Once the faculty is moved all that will be left is the sea defence, once it starts to disintegrate (wooden?) the core concrete structure will remain. This permanent spine will be a new long term sea defence from which new ones can be attached/added.

The juxtaposition of perceived element lifetimes will reverse, as the faculty ends it’s use as a teaching resource, the full realisation of the sea defence will start.


Building Program

Department of Archaeology campus extension

for the University of East Anglia

Cambridge is the closest and most thorough department for resources. UEA is relatively under developed and lacks the facilities. The building program intends to create a state of the art department faculty that rivals Cambridge. The intervention will not only create a new top learning centre, but it will create a long term sea defence for the village of Happisburgh in the process, whilst allowing for eventual relocation of the core facilities.

The main design ideas revolve around the structure protecting the village through a a long term legacy that will be left behind once the core department has moved on. The department itself would be a set of removable spaces containing equipment/meeting areas/accommodation etc that make use of the eroding cliff to release beach land for excavation, once the area has been exhausted of finds, the full faculty can be relocated to another cliff of interest. The full intervention is an extension of the main campus, ie it is only intended for short stays for groups (potentially from different universities) to learn from a live dig that they can participate in. The self-sufficient mini-village will house day and night activities.

The structure will be slanted rather than fully following the line of the cliff, this will allow for a gradual release over a number of years. Excavations can then take pace as the cliff is taken away by the ocean waves to reveal land form the right time period. The spine of the structure will be a permanent, but hidden feature that will protect the village in future.

Now for a word that describes the temporary and permanent contrast…

Norfolk Visit

The research has helped us to better undertsand the site before we even set foot on it. The more we know in advance, the better we can focus on the important details of the site rather than trying to piece it all together.

The journey started at 7.30am with a 4 1/2 hour coach journey with the deceptively uncomfortable seating.  The ride was long and slow, but we eventually made it at around 12. For several hours we wandered from the village to the beach.

Starting near the village sign, a quick walk took us past Happisburgh Manor and to the old RNLI lifeboat station (whose launch ramp was washed away by the sea). Beside, was a caravan park and the access stairs to the beach. The small ramp bridge was already looking like a strong storm could render it too short to reach land.

Upon getting down to the beach, it was apparent how much damage had been done to the 50’s coastal defences. The rusted bent metal, rotting wood and masses of eroded brick/glass deposits made it all too clear how damaging the sea can be. The maze of defences, although entirely man-made, did make the relatively short beach, more interesting.

There was a wealth of treasures to be found, from upturned WWII pillboxes to gold coins (as one enthusiastic metal detector owner explained). It’s just a case of looking, of course some things being harder to discover than others! The walk along the beach was at low tide, which gave a nice set of photos of the waves and damaged defences.

At around 2, we walked upto the Happisburgh Lighthouse for a tour. The lighthouse was everything a lighthouse should be, it was a perfect stereotype, as proved by 2 music videos and a ‘Challenge Anneka’ restorative repaint project.

The remainder of the trip was spent wandering to a local pub before departure….we arrived sometime after 8, WITHOUT a break!

Here’s the link to the photos:


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