Over a few days in March, groups of makers, architects and students could be found exploring Chatham’s Historic Dockyard. They were in fact taking part in Place Making, a residency run by the Crafts Council and Kent Architecture Centre hosted at the dockyard. Six teams, each comprising a maker, architect and student, were given a deliberately open brief to create a proposal for a site within the complex. The project was intended to ‘encourage exploration and experimentation and see how specialist skills and understanding of materials can be utilised to maximum impact.’ Intrigued, we tagged along…
Firstly here’s the surroundings. Let me introduce you to HMS Cavalier, the Royal Navy’s last operational Second World War destroyer built in 1944.
Next, this is HMS Ocelot, the submarine was the last warship built for the Royal Navy at Chatham.
Slightly less majestic perhaps, here’s the focus for Place Making. Referred to as the ‘Interface Land’, this is the last major plot of underdeveloped land on site. Responding to the constraints and possibilities of this space, groups were free to propose whatever structures, objects or even performances they liked. The emphasis being to engage collaboratively with generosity and openess.
After getting oriented to the dockyard, groups began focusing on different parts or features of the location. Here are ceramist Duncan Hooson, architect Jonathan McDowell and student Ben Crawford returning to the work room with a trolley full of timber pieces while textile artist Ismini Samanidou and architect Simon Bark look on.
Rope has been made on site since 1618 and it continues today in the shape of Master Ropemakers and here’s a bundle of their work.
Back outside, here’s an impressive piece of machinery that any self-respecting metalsmith would like in their studio. These are plate-bending rolls from 1913, they weigh 200 tonnes and were used to bend metal plates up to 1 1/2/ inches thick.
Here’s the pipe bending room from 1869…
Pipes – filled with sand to retain their hollow shape – were heated in the furnace here…
And then bent around the pegs pushed into the floor here, allowing a specific and complex shape to be made in one go.
Here, silversmith Lin Cheung takes some casts on her wanders around the site.
The workshop available to the groups is on the left – it belongs to University of Kent’s School of Arts. In the middle is a brewery and to the right is Kent Police Museum, naturally.
In the work room, the groups begin to pin up their sketches and inspirations. Here’s the space that belongs to maker Rebecca Gouldson, architect Jane Fowles and student Maria Treadwell.
As Jane Fowles works on some collage, Duncan Hooson, Jonathan McDowell and Ben Crawford debate their ideas
Here are just a few of Hooson, McDowell and Crawford’s thoughts.