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Geological Research Laboratory & Village: Wells salt-marsh, Wells-next-the-Sea, Norfolk

Part 2 Project 2013
Jordan Young
De Montfort University UK
The coastal village of Wells-next-the-Sea and its world famous salt-marsh are falling into the sea. The cliffs, dunes, and sea defences of this low-lying county cannot contend with rising sea levels, climate change, and coastal erosion. It is located in the harshest and most active environment on earth, the shoreline, where the fabric of the landscape is repeatedly battered by the elements, flooded by the sea and desiccated by the wind. This ferociously unstable environment poses an overwhelming set of conditions for the fragile and unique salt-marsh. The 20 mile stretch of coastline, between Wells and Cromer, is the most actively eroding point on the Norfolk coast. Shoreline Management Plans, poor Government investment, and inadequate defences of wood and iron have led to a coastline with a limited future. A sustainable and durable solution must be found.

The project is in reaction to recent pressures of coastal erosion in the U.K. As a research laboratory and village in Wells Salt-marsh in Norfolk, the aim was to find a solution to the national threat of coastal erosion through a naturally fast growing rock, Siderite, unique to the surrounding sea marsh landscape.

Developed in a series of laboratories, alongside housing units and devices, a series of catalysts is introduced to increase the growth of the rock in specific areas of the marsh, acting as natural groynes and sea walls to protect the treasured landscape. Over time the natural compound grows around the laboratories, protecting them from the harsh weather conditions and creating a habitat for local wildlife in the skin of the building. The atmospheric drawings, collages and renders capture the natural beauty of the site and playfulness of the project whilst the buildings high-tech aesthetic hints at the rigorous, pragmatic and sustainable ambition behind the proposal.

Alongside this ambitious scientific and technical proposal, this project provides a safe and protective environment for local cockle-pickers, currently putting their lives at risk in this traitorous environment. The scheme shows a lively and healthy community emerging of two diverse communities living together in this diverse and alien landscape.

Jordan Young


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