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New Nature : A Shifting Paradigm

Part 2 Project 2011
Lewis Benmore
University of Dundee | UK
The principles established in this research are expressed through a landscape management strategy, a series of structures that form a seawater desalination plant and a tidal observatory located in the tidal backwaters north of Walton-on-Naze. The coastal region is a fragile and restless landscape, constantly in flux. For centuries man has adapted to this shifting landscape, however recently attempts have been made to control the natural process of erosion and preserve the landscape. It is only recently, in geological terms, that mankind has become disengaged with the land through the development of the built environment.

The desalination plant aims to re-establish a community within the fragile ecology that exists on the site, shaping how a culture evolves and challenge the disengagement between man and nature that exists. The physical manifestation of the plant will engage with the geomorphological processes that characterize the landscape, facilitating the ‘managed retreat’ approach. Challenging the threat of sea level rise and tidal surge, the plant turns seawater into a manageable resource, creating a more symbiotic relationship between man, nature and the spiritual roots of place and time. By engaging with the landscape the desalination plant will attempt to render visible natural processes, challenging the romantic idea of the ‘natural landscape’.

As a monument for the 1953 floods the tidal observatory is a device for recording the traces of the tide. Similar to the Munro Gauge, the tidal observatory produces sea level elevations, recording coastal processes; tidal response, storm surge behavior and the rise in sea level. The ebb and flow of the tide draws lines, the rhythmic forces are recorded becoming a map that periodically highlights the instability of nature.

Shifting away from mono-functional infrastructure, the proposed landscape management strategy merges existing landscapes with emergent infrastructures in order to catalyze new ecologies, economies and most significantly, a new social infrastructure. It is widely acknowledged that global climate change is inevitable. In order for man to adapt to climate change and reengage with nature, it is important that our perception returns to a rejection of dualism, a view that perceives nature as a living whole, recognizing mans position within the ecology as interdependent.

Lewis Benmore


Fergus Purdie
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