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Wanderer's Wonder shortlist shows playfulness of sustainable steel

Words:
Isabelle Priest and Michèle Woodger

This RIBA Journal competition with the Galvanizers Association to design a stopping point for walkers realised in galvanized steel brought forth a fantastic response, with imaginative ideas ranging from a thistle-shaped viewing point, via an armadillo-shaped shelter, to a book swap grotto

  • Leaning gate by Simon Lanyon-Hogg, architect, Lanyon-Hogg Architects and Rebecca Disney, educator and writer
    Leaning gate by Simon Lanyon-Hogg, architect, Lanyon-Hogg Architects and Rebecca Disney, educator and writer
  • Leaning gate by Simon Lanyon-Hogg, architect, Lanyon-Hogg Architects and Rebecca Disney, educator and writer
    Leaning gate by Simon Lanyon-Hogg, architect, Lanyon-Hogg Architects and Rebecca Disney, educator and writer
12

Leaning gate

Simon Lanyon-Hogg, architect, Lanyon-Hogg Architects and Rebecca Disney, educator and writer

Simon Lanyon-Hogg and Rebecca Disney’s modest, light-footed, tree-like structure is intended as a versatile rest stop along remote routes. On the trunk is a rotating tractor seat. The main stem is a support for tying the dog, chin-wagging with companions, or simply leaning on. The furthest limb comprises a plate for placing one’s snacks.

The 100% galvanized steel composition uses standard agricultural profiles and sand cast elements; sand-cast plates are embossed with braille and compass points. Each branch is a 50mm circular section with tapering ends. Lightweight and portable components facilitate installation using a ground screw.

‘It’s like a Swiss army knife in the countryside offering a multitude of different things,’ praised Garreth McMahon during the judging event. ‘The more you look at it the more intriguing and purposeful it might be,’ agreed Isabelle Priest.

  • Resting point on Scottish routes by Eleni Bismpiki and Anna Nikolaidou, architects, Sto.a
    Resting point on Scottish routes by Eleni Bismpiki and Anna Nikolaidou, architects, Sto.a
  • Resting point on Scottish routes by Eleni Bismpiki and Anna Nikolaidou, architects, Sto.a
    Resting point on Scottish routes by Eleni Bismpiki and Anna Nikolaidou, architects, Sto.a
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Resting point on Scottish routes

Eleni Bismpiki and Anna Nikolaidou, architects, Sto.a

This 4.5m climbable shelter in the Scottish Highlands mimics the radial symmetrical geometry of a thistle. The flowerhead is a sheltered seating area in galvanized steel protected by metal woven screens affording 360º views.

A dome-shaped roof is clad in local, long-lasting and aesthetically pleasing Scottish larch shingles. This is covered externally in transparent, lightweight, flexible fibre rods which droop naturally and, like a seedhead, rustle in the wind. (Judge Jonathan Hagos drew parallels with Heatherwick Studio’s Seed Cathedral.)

While initially reticent about its large size, its structural viability and its literalness, the judges were eventually won over. ‘I enjoyed the boldness of the gesture,’ said Hagos. ‘I liked the minimal impact on the ground and the elevated view; you can picture it in tree foliage and hear the noises of the surrounding trees’ said Garreth McMahon.

  • (d)well by George Williams with Joseph Richard Cox, master’s students, Manchester School of Architecture
    (d)well by George Williams with Joseph Richard Cox, master’s students, Manchester School of Architecture
  • (d)well by George Williams with Joseph Richard Cox, master’s students, Manchester School of Architecture
    (d)well by George Williams with Joseph Richard Cox, master’s students, Manchester School of Architecture
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(d)well

George Williams with Joseph Richard Cox, master’s students, Manchester School of Architecture

(d)well is an asymmetrical monocoque CLT structure proposal that is part of the restoration and adaptation of a historic 19th century farmstead in Harpham, Yorkshire. The masterplan seeks to bring unused agricultural buildings into use as a wellness centre for farmers and rural communities. The design draws on multiple layers of reference, including a nearby 11th century earthworks, two famous local wells, and the material and forms of agricultural buildings common in the area.

The structure is clad in corrugated galvanized steel and directs a series of thresholds that contribute to the experience of the landscape and change with the seasons and time of the day. This culminates with an oculus that continues the connection with the outside world through light, shadow and weather. Hagos commented: ‘I enjoyed it as a celebration of industrial. The use of corrugated steel takes it to a place of elegance and purpose architecturally, not just reiterating former use with echoes of James Turrell and the Pantheon.’

 

  • The Stravaiger and the Bodach by Euan Hardie, Part II architectural assistant, Reiach & Hall Architects
    The Stravaiger and the Bodach by Euan Hardie, Part II architectural assistant, Reiach & Hall Architects
  • The Stravaiger and the Bodach by Euan Hardie, Part II architectural assistant, Reiach & Hall Architects
    The Stravaiger and the Bodach by Euan Hardie, Part II architectural assistant, Reiach & Hall Architects
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The Stravaiger and the Bodach

Euan Hardie, Part II architectural assistant, Reiach & Hall Architects

The Stravaiger and the Bodach is a two-part proposal that is inspired by the Scots word ‘stravaig’, which means ‘to wander aimlessly’.

The first part of the proposal, the Stravaiger, is a resting place for weary legs or to enjoy the view for a momentary pause, while the second part, the Bodach, is a ‘hat’ that can be built over abandoned ruins in the landscape for an overnight stay or longer refuge from the elements.

Both parts of the proposal use a simple formula of elements: a timber frame, made from standard-sized timbers, with off-the-shelf galvanized steel fixings and footings, as well as a skin of corrugated galvanized steel sheets that form the visible sheltering element from afar. Both structures aim to touch the landscape lightly and be completely demountable, reusable or recyclable.

 

  • Armadillo shelter and seats by Francis Mc Shane, architect, Mc Shane Architect
    Armadillo shelter and seats by Francis Mc Shane, architect, Mc Shane Architect
  • Armadillo shelter and seats by Francis Mc Shane, architect, Mc Shane Architect
    Armadillo shelter and seats by Francis Mc Shane, architect, Mc Shane Architect
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Armadillo shelter and seats

Francis Mc Shane, architect, Mc Shane Architect

Francis Mc Shane’s 17.5kg folding shelter – resembling an armadillo’s armature – is assembled from 6mm-thick, 3.7m2 galvanised steel panels, bolted together. Intended to be demountable and reusable, it is for semi-permanent usage, relying on cast concrete foundations or rock-drilling for stability. Inside, expanded metal curved seats accommodate three adults.

Intended for use in different conditions (including covering with stones to resemble a cairn, or rammed with earth at the back for further shelter) this utilitarian, almost militaristic proposal intrigued the judges, with Iqbal Johal praising its sticking to the brief to the letter, and Anna Liu finding playfulness and imagination in its pure functionality. 

 

Book Swap Grotto by Stephanie Elward, architect, JTP
Book Swap Grotto by Stephanie Elward, architect, JTP

Book swap grotto

Stephanie Elward, architect, JTP 

The book swap grotto is an evolution of the little street libraries that pop up on gates, fences and walls all over the country. Big enough to occupy one person at a time, the grotto is a place of solitude and a place to shut out the outside and engross in a new fictional world. It is designed using a grid of 600x600mm cubes with steel frames, enabling easy construction, deconstruction and adaptation, and clad with corrugated hot-dip galvanised cladding to allow the material to glisten in the sun, a precious little jewel box perched on the landscape. By perching on only one of these cubes, the apparently floating grotto has a minimal footprint, and the steel is complemented by timber elements.

Hagos commented: ‘I like its interpretation of the ability to wander in ones imagination through literature.’

  • Out of the green by Mateusz Musial, architect, WXCA Architecture Office
    Out of the green by Mateusz Musial, architect, WXCA Architecture Office
  • Out of the green by Mateusz Musial, architect, WXCA Architecture Office
    Out of the green by Mateusz Musial, architect, WXCA Architecture Office
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Out of the green

Mateusz Musial, architect, WXCA Architecture Office 

In the face of rising prices of land, public space in big cities is becoming more and more squeezed. This project assumes the use of undeveloped areas of land of low investment value, and turns them into a local meeting place for residents with a relatively small financial outlay that also encourages biodiversity.

The principal structure is a galvanized steel mesh canopy that sits above  polycarbonate sheeting, raised up on openwork pillars that double as downpipes for rainwater collected from the roof. This is stored in underground pipes for use maintaining the fauna and flora of the site. The elevation is made of recycled steel bars of various lengths. It is a simple urban resting stop that makes use of under-loved pockets of the city and is simple enough to be replicated in many areas.


 

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