Onion Collective CIC organised an extraordinary weekend in Watchet where Piers Taylor, Charley Brentnall and Marc Dix of LT Studio led a workshop to construct, with up to 50 local volunteers a timber canopy and stage with a planted landscape that marked the reclaiming of the overgrown former pleasure gardens for community use.
The structure was made from a series of dry laminated green timber hoops that were bound together with jute rope and no mechanical fixings and few tools. These were bent into shape which effectively tightened the bindings, which will grow even stronger as the rope shrinks when wet and the timber seasons. Many of the volunteers were ‘unskilled’ in the formal sense – and the project is testament to the power of a community coming together to do something for itself.
See completed project images HERE
As part of the Regeneration of the East Quay at Watchet, we have been working on providing additional gallery and studio space for the successful Contains Art project – this is the proposal to keep the existing containers, and construct new studios over, with a double height gallery and new marina offices.
We’ve been working with The Onion Collective CIC for a few months on the East Quay regeneration in Watchet, Somerset.
This is a workspace development called The Foundry, comprised of small modular, flexible workshops, a communal makerspace and studios providing visitors with the chance to see and visit makers at work. In addition. there is a new gallery and studio spaces for ‘Contains Art’ and a series of self catering apartments contained in a vantage point and ‘lookout’ that provides spectacular views over the Quantocks, the Marina, out to sea and back to the town.
The lookout is a structure that enjoys a certain seaside whimsy, and also makes reference to the series of tall coastal structures with exposed steps and walkways that exist up and down the coast.
The scheme is highly contextual and makes reference to the the fascinating geological makeup of this part of the triassic/jurassic coast. It also celebrates the quirky and informal nature of the town.
Watchet is an informal, working coastal town, and the danger will be to overdevelop – or, rather, to over sanitise it – with a scheme that is too precise and clinical. Consequently, this proposal celebrates the informal and the adhoc but effective platemaking that has evolved over time here. At the heart of the proposal is a series of small, and medium sized interlinked public spaces, that connect into other parts of the town.
We particularly enjoy Mrs Osborn Hann’s description of Watchet. She came to Watchet in the Edwardian period as she had been commissioned to write a book on Somerset by A&C Black in conjunction with the artists Heaton Cooper and Walter Tyndale and she wrote the following: