London building turned upside down
by Alex Chinneck

| 9 comments
 

This London building appears to have been turned on its head, but it's actually an installation created by Hackney artist Alex Chinneck.

Miner on the Moon by Alex Chinneck is an upside-down building in London

Alex Chinneck, whose previous projects include a house with a slumped down facade and a melting brick wall, constructed a new facade for a former livery stables in Southwark to make the building look like it has been turned upside down.

Miner on the Moon by Alex Chinneck is an upside-down building in London

Entitled Miner on the Moon, the project takes over a structure that was first built in the 1780s as a storage facility for horses and carriages, but until recently had been left as an empty shell with a colourless facade and boarded-up windows.

Miner on the Moon by Alex Chinneck is an upside-down building in London

"I was interested by how the architectural silhouette of the building had been created with this function in mind and I wanted to conceive a concept that responded to this shape and the building's history," said Chinneck.

Miner on the Moon by Alex Chinneck is an upside-down building in London

The artist followed the proportions of the existing facade for the design of the new elevation, creating a shopfront, doors and windows that are all the wrong way round.

Miner on the Moon by Alex Chinneck is an upside-down building in London

A fake materials palette of brickwork and white plaster is provided by brick slips - a kind of flattened brick - and rendered polystyrene. Chinneck also added an enamel sign from a company founded nearby in 1876.

"After being dissolved in 1986, I found their enamel signage earlier this year in a reclamation yard in Wales and this sign initiated and informed the mood of the work," he said.

Miner on the Moon by Alex Chinneck is an upside-down building in London

Like many of his public art projects, Chinneck says his intention with the piece was to create a spectacle that somehow manages to fit in with its surroundings.

Miner on the Moon by Alex Chinneck is an upside-down building in London

"I'm conscious that when a person walks through the doors of an art gallery they do so through choice, but people do not make that choice when presented with public sculpture," he said.

"I wanted to create an artwork therefore that offered spectacle but was simultaneously subtle and by using the material and architectural language of the district the artwork has the ability to disappear into its environment without dominating it."

Miner on the Moon by Alex Chinneck is an upside-down building in London

The artist relied on donations to source the materials needed to build the structure, and installed it with help from a team of volunteers.

Miner on the Moon by Alex Chinneck is an upside-down building in London

Photography is by Stephen O'Flaherty and Alex Chinneck.

Here's a statement from Alex Chinneck:


Miner on the Moon

The work is titled 'Miner on the moon'. It is located just south of Blackfriars Bridge at 20 Blackfriars Road SE1 8NY and was produced as the finale to Merge Festival 2013.

Built in 1780, the site was originally used as livery stables housing horses and carriages for hire. The access through the site (the underpass to the bottom right of the building) was used to ferry live cattle from the rear yard to the Thames for trade. I was interested by how the architectural silhouette of the building had been created with this function in mind and I wanted to conceive a concept that responded to this shape and the buildings history.

The material and aesthetic decisions within the project celebrate the architectural heritage of Southwark and the timeless charm of its fatigued buildings. By presenting a very familiar architectural scenery and narrative in an inverted way, the audience hopefully re-appreciates the buildings and moments of our daily environments that we allow to slip into our subconscious.

Miner on the Moon by Alex Chinneck is an upside-down building in London
Original building

The sign (W. H. Willcox & Co Ltd) is a company founded in 1876 on Southwark Street a few minutes walk from the site. After being dissolved in 1986, I found their enamel signage earlier this year in a reclamation yard in Wales and this sign initiated and informed the mood of the work.

As an artist, this very busy junction is of course prime real estate for public sculpture given the volume of traffic and potential audience. Having said that, I'm conscious that when a person walks through the doors of an art gallery they do so through choice but people do not make that choice when presented with public sculpture. I wanted to create an artwork therefore that offered spectacle but was simultaneously subtle and by using the material and architectural language of the district the artwork has the ability to disappear into its environment without dominating it.

The project was built in partnership Mace Group. Other supporters and sponsors include Tate, Better Bankside, Ibstock Brick, Norbord, Euroform, Eurobrick, K-Rend, Kingspan, Lyons Annoot, Benchmark Scaffolding, Dhesi and Urban Surface Protection.

  • rohtmuz

    The exact location of where this is in London would help Dezeen, can you tell us what street it is on?

  • pipo

    It was fun, now it’s getting too much.

  • http://www.dezeen.com/ Dezeen Magazine

    Hi,

    It is located just south of Blackfriars Bridge at 20 Blackfriars Road SE1 8NY, which is provided in the project description above.

    Kind regards,

    Ross/Dezeen

  • sr

    Blackfriars road – north end.

  • Mac

    Gimmicky.

  • Sophie

    I actually really liked the old facade. In terms of material, colour and rhythm it is really well done. Not sure about the new thing, seems pretty random.

  • Sergei Alexander Aoki

    Obvious…

  • zoe
  • charlotte

    Although the artist doesn’t spell it out, his work neatly draws attention to how the area is being turned upside down through the loss of heritage buildings. The row of buildings the art piece is on are all due for demolition by the Blackfriars Ltd (funders Irish Bank Resolution Corporation Ltd in ‘special liquidation’ and a developer registered in Guernsey), a beautiful 19c corner building, a former photographic studio, was already demolished last year and has been a derelict site since.

    Currently, there is huge community anger and upset at the council’s aggressive pursuit of developer led redevelopment which is resulting in a devastating loss of heritage and local character buildings on Blackfriars Road and the surrounding area. They are busy turning London’s most historic boroughs into a corridor of glass and steel office towers and luxury flats, or as the council put it, transforming the area ‘from grot to gloss’ – which is both insulting and wilfully misrepresentative.

    If you want to see the buildings lost, read about current campaigns or get involved, a group of residents have founded the Blackfriars Preservation Society – blackfriarspreservationsociety.tumblr.com
    and BARD – http://betterblackfriars.wordpress.com/