55/02: A Manufactured Architecture in a Manufactured Landscape


Vincent Gallery

A collaboration in Design and Making between sixteen*(makers) and Stahlbogen.

The spectacular surroundings of Kielder Water & Forest Park in Northumbria (UK) are a confluence of many conditions; the man-made and the natural, the utilitarian and recreational; beauty and isolation; and weathers that converge from east and west. Located on the new Lakeside Way, ‘55/02’ responds to these circumstances and is the result of an innovative and creative partnership between architects, researchers and manufacturers.

Appointed by the Kielder Partnership´s Art and Architecture programme and funded by Northumberland Strategic Partnership and One North East, ‘55/02’ is one of 6 local commissions completed on 1 June 2009. ‘55/02’ is a collaboration in research, practice and manufacture by architectural practice sixteen*(makers) and steel manufacturers Stahlbogen GmbH, who have worked together from concept to completion.

Founded at UCL´s Bartlett School of Architecture sixteen*(makers) include Phil Ayres, Nick Callicott, Chris Leung, Bob Sheil and Emmanuel Vercruysse. Callicott has since gone on to establish Stahlbogen GmbH a subsidiary of Ehlert GmbH in the Harz region of Germany, whilst Ayres, Leung, Sheil and Vercruysse continue their ties with the Bartlett in design, research and teaching. The group now operate as an architectural consultancy at UCL. 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 a 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 & Forest Park. This is a manufactured landscape centred on the largest man-made reservoir in Northern Europe constructed between 1975 and 1981, with a shoreline of 27 miles, now made accessible to walkers and cyclists via the Lakeside Way. The surrounding forest, now England´s largest at 250 square miles, is owned and managed by the Forestry Commission, who initiated the first plantings in the 1920s.

‘55/02’ is a manufactured architecture in a manufactured setting, a bridge between the blurred distinction between the natural and the artificial.