Steeped in serendipity and good connections we were approached by Tom Branston from Neverland and asked to design and build a series of Installations at Dreamland in Margate; our new home town. To be working on our doorstep for a project which is going to add so much to the town was a huge plus point. Moreover, Neverland, a company which facilitates the telling of stories and the communication of narratives, gave us huge creative freedom which, from a client, is a rare and beautiful thing.
DREAMLAND is a historical amusement park which has seen many many transformations over its lifespan. From hugely popular seaside attraction up until the late 80's when tourist decline, a devastating fire and switched management saw it's decline to dilapidated and abandoned dereliction. 2015 saw a renewed interest and funding for both Margate itself and Dreamland and the park was re-opened and re-invigorated by cleverly re-imagining the rides and park creating a heritage, vintage experience. 2017 sees a brief closure while the site is added to to create a full event venue which can hold music festivals for 15,000 people whilst still retaining its guise as an amusement park.
We outline here the plans and 'thus far' images for two of our three projects: The Treehouse and The Spinning Top. The third project, Mural by The Sea will be outlined in a separate blog post
We were asked to design a multi level piece of architecture to work in an awkward part of the site. The structure needed to hold 160 people, a VIP bar, a tented roof terrace and sit atop 2 shipping container banks all surrounded by huge trees and planted to look like a treehouse. The challenge involved designing a 'venue' which would delight visitors in both their travel round the structure and their views across the park but still work in the confines of the boundaries created by the surrounding infrastructure.
Early concept sketches:
THE SPINNING TOP
Commissioning body NEVERLAND wanted the 'entrance' to the park to have an impactful and metamorphosing installation which said to the visitor who had just parked in the, less that inspirational, car park - You Are Not In Kansas Anymore. Moreover, this needed to be an art installation which referenced the heritage and 'amusement' of the park but was not a ride in itself - was simply an art installation which stated its existence but reflected its surroundings. We looked closely at its Geographical position which was right in the middle of the scenic railway, an impressive and beautiful 100% wooden roller coaster. This site was completely encircled right in the tightest and highest turn of the ride - the timbers and the sense of being in the centre of the ride was inspirational and we started to look at exactly how to reflect it... with mirrors! We looked at mirror faceted structures and choose to base our design on the simplest and oldest of games - the spinning top. We added bright rainbow colours to the floor and base structure to add reflected colour and a sense of fun. We managed to design mechanics which would allow the piece to be interacted with and turned by hand.
THE TREEHOUSE BUILD SO FAR .....
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