Cartography is a method of recording places, and names of places. Names of streets, villages, waterways, give a window into the past. For example, ‘Oxford’, a river crossing (ford) for oxen. Historical investigations into the site have uncovered interesting facts. It is no coincidence that the Castle Mill Stream was once occupied by a mill. In fact, years ago the site was home to a flour mill, utilising hydro power via a water wheel. Records show that over time, with increased industrial activity in the immediate area, small breweries began to appear. Known originally as the Swan’s Nest brewery, beer was brewed on the site at Paradise Street until 1926. It is not clear if Swan Bridge, (directly downstream from the site) takes or gives its name to the brewery.
Having decided to design a workshop for slip cast ceramics, I researched local makers to base a case study on. I arranged a visit to Harriet Elkerton’s Studio in the market town of Thame, Oxfordshire. The purpose of seeing a ceramicist at work in their own studio, was to observe the ergonomics and theatre of the working space at first hand. Harriet’s studio is situated in a converted garage. I found the methods Harriet uses to produce unique forms particularly interesting. More information can be found here.
Upon discovering that my project site was once occupied by a mill, my tutor Toby encouraged me to visit a working example of a watermill. By coincidence I had recently watched a documentary about the River Thames, in which Jeremy Paxman visited a local watermill at The Maple Durham Estate in South Oxfordshire. This seemed like the ideal place to visit as it was only a 15 minute drive away. My visit was in the middle of june, and although the mill was out of use (due to a broken part), I gained an insight into the mechanics of a mill and concluded that the object that I had previously found on site in Oxford, could have been one of the many cast iron parts of a working mill.
As part of a team outing at Barton Willmore, I joined colleagues for a guided tour of a high rise residential development they are currently delivering in Poplar, East London. There are many positive aspects to the project, in particular the high quality detailing that has been achieved. Not forgetting the unique views of landmarks including Canary Wharf, Billingsgate Market, London City Airport, Robin Hood Gardens, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, Millennium Dome and the City of London. Project details can be found here.
My first design project will be in the city of Oxford. The chosen site is the area around a small slither of land forming an island in Castle Mill Stream, a backwater of the River Thames that runs through the western part of town, flowing next to St George’s Tower at Oxford Castle.
Design projects will be…1. Instrument; 2. Di-section; 3.Workshop.