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Land Lines

Land Lines

Land Lines

This work was commissioned by Darlington Borough to provide a focal point to Drinkfield Marsh Nature Reserve, and to enable a closer engagement by the visiting public with the nature of the space. It essentially comprises the two elements of a 30 metre stone wall and a clay Jetty.

The wall runs down the southern bank of Drinkfield Marsh Nature Reserve. It is built to a thickness of 1.2m and a height of 1.8m.

It slopes back into the ground, towards its far end at the top of the bank; and tapers from the base to its top surface. The surface construction is dry stone walling, but the interior has been built as a complex honeycomb of caverns and passages. This will become a rich habitat for birds, small mammals and amphibians. The wall is capped by a surface of heavy timbers.

This creates a contrast in light and dark between the smooth reflective surface of the timber, which faces the sky, and the heavily textured surface of the wall in shadow. The intention of this is to form a sharply defined line, which emphasises the contour and fall of the bank. At its lower end close to the lakeside, the top structure divides, with one side dropping to form a long bench overlooking the lake .

The jetty is positioned a few degrees beyond a right angle to the far end of the base of the Wall, and stretches out 30m into the water.

It lies along the longest axis of the lake, thereby emphasising distance and space. Aesthetically it functions as a powerful line, which operates in concert with the wall, to define the focal point of the landscape of Drinkfield Marsh.

It also gives physical access over the water, enabling people to traverse along the defined axis, and provides a dramatic viewpoint. The character of the site changes year by year with the seasons.

The work will significantly enhance the habitat available along the lakeside, while still enabling human access, providing a closeness to the water that would normally be unobtainable.

The Jetty has been made from a clay and stone base, reinforced by an infrastructure of living willow. The method of construction was to scrape the lakebed back to the underlying clay. A series of thick vertical aspen posts were then set in four rows along a length of twenty meters. Between these posts were woven a basketwork of willow stems. The live willow species were deliberately selected in their character and placement to emphasise space and distance to the viewer. This willow infrastructure was then infilled with a clay and aggregate mix.

Over the forthcoming years the live willow will establish itself, growing up on either side of the jetty, and laying down a root system throughout the earthwork. This will then become the supporting infrastructure of the jetty as the original timber supports rot away.

Over the years the work is changing and integrates more and more closely with the original landscape, as the willow grows, and the timber and stone weather.