A flightless spaceship is slowly creeping around a former Cold War airbase near Utrecht (+ slideshow + movie).
Secret Operation 610 by Rietveld Landscape and Studio Frank Havermans is an art installation and mobile research space located at a former Royal Netherlands Air Force military base in Soesterberg, 14 kilometres north east of Utrecht.
The project comprises a 4.5 metre-tall black vehicle with two large wing-shaped legs that exit a diamond-shaped cockpit and have caterpillar tracks on the feet. "The object revives the mysterious atmosphere of the Cold War and its accompanying terrifying weaponry," said the designers.
There is seating for ten people to work inside the object, which will be used by visiting researchers. "The unconventional combination of nature and Cold War history offers an exciting environment for the development of knowledge about nature, technology and aviation," said Ronald Rietveld.
The vehicle is housed in a former F15 plane hanger and when in use travels along the disused airstrip. "The lethargic pace of the caterpillar wheels gives viewers a long period of contemplation of the elevated vessel and its historical context at the military airbase," the designers said.
"Due to this brutal object's constantly changing position in the serene landscape, it allows the visitor to experience the area and the history of the military airbase in new ways."
The elevated vehicle was designed to resemble military aircraft but remains flightless. It is 4.5 metres tall, 11 metres wide and eight metres long.
A third leg extends over the back end of the capsule to provide stability and has a wheel on the foot for maneuverability.
The machine is constructed from steel and wood that is sprayed with liquid black rubber. The interior is lined with painted wood.
"It is a functional piece of work that serves as a research station," said the designers. One of the first groups to use the workspace is aerospace engineering researchers CleanEra from Delft University of Technology, who are researching environmentally-sound aviation.
The Secret Operation project was originally created for arts festival Vrede van Utrecht 2013.
Here's a movie of the vehicle in action:
Rietveld Landscape is a design and research office based in Amsterdam. Its other projects include an arched foam screen with hundreds of building-shaped holes inside a disused chapel in Utrecht and an installation featuring rows of flaming torches inside an abandoned building. See more coverage of Rietveld Landscape »
Previous work by Frank Havermans includes a bright red tower resembling the head and neck of a monster and a sunken concrete pavilion built by a stream in the Netherlands.
Here's a full project description:
Secret Operation 610 by Rietveld Landscape and Studio Frank Havermans
When aircraft Shelter 610 opens its ruthless doors, a monstrous black behemoth slowly comes driving out. The object revives the mysterious atmosphere of the Cold War and its accompanying terrifying weaponry.
At an almost excruciatingly slow pace, the artwork uses its caterpillar tracks to cross the seemingly infinite runway. Due to this brutal object's constantly changing position in the serene landscape, it allows the visitor to experience the area and the history of the military airbase in new ways.
At the same time, the artwork functions as a working environment for researchers. Their temporary stay creates opportunities for innovative research programs that otherwise would be impossible.
The general aesthetic of the sculptural object resembles something from a science fiction movie. However, it is a functional work that serves as a research station. One of the groups occupying the space is CleanEra: technical university (TU) delft aerospace engineering students who are developing the 'no noise, no carbon, just fly' technologies for the future of flight.
For example, inside the object, students of the Technical University Delft will develop a program for the innovative flying of the 21st century: "no noise, no carbon, just fly". The old runway is the perfect test site for state of the art aviation experiments.
The mobile sculpture and shelter 610 are perfect spaces for research, experiment and innovation for groups coming from various disciplines. The unconventional combination of nature and Cold War history offers an exciting environment for the development of knowledge about nature, technology and aviation.
Design team: Frank Havermans, Ronald Rietveld, Arna Mackic
Production leader: Koos Schaart productions
Location: Former Flight Base Soesterberg, The Netherlands
Client: CBK Utrecht, Vrede van Utrecht
Coordination: Ella Derksen