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Bartlett architects explore relationship between nature and artifice

25 January 2010

UCL Bartlett School of Architecture staff and alumni have created a steel shelter that explores the shifting relationship between the natural and the artificial.

Architectural consultancy sixteen*(makers) collaborated with German steel manufacturer Stahlbogen GmbH to make the shelter for visitors to Kielder Water and Forest Park in Northumberland.

The UCL staff behind sixteen*(makers) are Bob Sheil, Dr Phil Ayres, Chris Leung and Emmanuel Vercruysse, while founder member and former Bartlett student Nick Callicott is co-proprietor and director of Stahlbogen GmbH.

Their creation – known as '55/02', a reference to the longitude and latitude of its location on the park's Lakeside Way  – is formed from panels of steel joined to create a series of alcoves.

55/02 seen through the trees at Kielder Water and Forest Park

It has a large door on runners that can be pulled shut or positioned to form an open series of seats and windbreaks, or a smaller weatherproof pod, and handholds that encourage agile visitors to clamber over it like a climbing frame.

Bob Sheil is director of the Graduate Diploma in Architecture at the Bartlett, where he oversees the school's new Digital Manufacturing Centre.

55/02 under construction in Germany

He said: "For the practice '55/02' marks the latest manifestation of many years of tacit experimentation, training and collaboration in design and manufacturing processes fuelled by a fascination with making and the ever increasing synthesis of digital design and manufacturing techniques.

The project is named to relate to its location on coordinates 55° 11.30 N, 02° 29.23 W. In this regard, it has been conceived not merely as an object but as an architectural construct customised to fit the unique character of its place.
Its highly crafted form orientates the visitor to key views, vistas, adjacent canopies and distant edges of Kielder Water and Forest Park. This is a manufactured landscape centred on the largest man-made reservoir in Northern Europe.
'55/02’ is a manufactured architecture in a manufactured setting, a bridge between the blurred distinction between the natural and the artificial."

Bob Sheil and Nick Callicott will give a talk entitled '55/02: Manufactured Architecture in a Manufactured Landscape' at 6.30pm on Wednesday 27 January at the Darwin Lecture Theatre, Darwin Building, Gower Street, as part of the Bartlett School of Architecture International Lecture Series.

The lecture will be followed at 7.30pm by the opening of an exhibition about the project in the Lobby Gallery of Wates House, Ensleigh Gardens.

For more information about the UCL Bartlett School of Architecture, sixteen*(makers) or Kielder Water and Forest Park, follow the links above.

Images: 55/02 at Kielder Water and Forest Park


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