Dezeen Magazine

Sinking House in Bristol

Stride Treglown places "sinking" Monopoly-style house in River Avon ahead of COP26

Architecture firm Stride Treglown has installed a sculpture of a bright red "sinking house" in Bath's Pulteney Weir to draw attention to climate change.

Stride Treglown collaborated with engineering designers Format Engineers to create the sculpture, which is called Sinking House, ahead of the COP26 climate conference.

Human-like figure on roof
A human-like figure is positioned on the house's roof

Sinking House is a 5.5-metre by 3.5-metre bright red timber sculpture designed in a universally recognisable shape that takes cues from classic Monopoly houses.

The house is located in Pulteney Weir, a low dam in front of Pulteney Bridge on the River Avon in Bath, where passersby can experience it from the ground above.

Monopoly-style house
The sculpture takes cues from Monopoly houses

Positioned at an angle so that the sculpture looks as if it is sinking beneath the water's surface, the house includes a human-like figure sitting on its chimney, holding onto a rope and banner attached to the bridge that reads "COP26."

The installation intends to represent the idea that COP26 – the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference – offers the world a lifeline for world leaders to act in order to address climate change.

Pulteney Weir in Bath
Sinking House sits in Pulteney Weir

"The project was inspired by Greta Thunberg’s 'Our house is on fire' speech at the 2019 World Economic Forum," Stride Treglown head of sustainability Rob Delius told Dezeen.

"We wanted to use that reference to highlight how 'our house' is in great danger and make a literal house in peril floating in the river."

"The catastrophic floods in Europe this summer were also a big influence, as we saw pictures of people stranded on the roofs of their houses. Suddenly, the effects of climate change felt very close to home," added Delius.

Sculpture from above
Passersby can view the sculpture from above

Format Engineers worked with local sculptor Anna Gillespie and carpenters Fifield Moss to install the sculpture.

As well as representing the emergency and danger of climate change, Sinking House's bright red colour was also designed to contrast with Pulteney Bridge's historic backdrop.

Sinking House
It sits in a low dam

"Reinforcing our colour choice, the UN Secretary-General said of the recent IPCC climate change report that the world was now at code Red and that we need widespread, immediate, and substantial action," explained Delius.

"It is also a play on the classic Monopoly house, or hotel, and how our leaders have prioritised economic growth over a more sustainable approach, which has left us in this perilous position," he added.

"Sinking House was chosen as a name to represent how our house, our planet, is sinking into disaster but if we act now, we still have a chance to save it from complete catastrophe."

The structure was constructed using timber, which Stride Treglown says will be donated to the nearby Bristol Wood Recycling Project once the installation is dismantled.

The architecture firm also received assistance from the local Sea Cadets, who offered their pontoon – a raft of reusable plastic 'pillows' – to help the sculpture float and create the submerged effect.

This was incorporated into the base of the sculpture, together with 10 empty beer kegs loaned to the architects by local pub the Bell Inn.

Striking red Sinking House sculpture
The sculpture's red colour was designed to be striking

"We wanted to get the message across to world leaders about how important COP26 is and how the wider community is counting on them to take action," concluded Delius.

"But Sinking House also sends a message of hope – COP26, along with other measures, offer us all an opportunity, a lifeline to improve our current position."

COP26 call-to-action
Sinking House is a call-to-action ahead of COP26

COP26 will take place in Glasgow from 31 October. Other creative projects designed for the event include the Build Better Now virtual pavilion featuring 17 sustainable projects and a "conference of trees" by UK designer Es Devlin.

The photography is by Tom Bright.

Sinking House is on show in Bath until 7 November 2021. See Dezeen Events Guide for an up-to-date list of architecture and design events taking place around the world.

More images and plans

Sinking House sketch
Sinking House sketch
Sinking House construction
Sinking House construction