In 2015, we joined forces with Architecture 00. Together, we enjoy collaborating in a shared environment where strategic, urban and social designers, architects, programmers and economists practice design beyond its traditional borders. 00 work with individuals, governments, corporations and communities to solve problems and anticipate change, and to design successful platforms and places. As a studio it aims to reach beyond the design of objects themselves to the social, economic and environmental systems behind them.

Weston-Super-Mare Tourist Information Centre

We were asked by North Somerset Council to look at the refurbishment of Weston-super-Mare’s Tourist Information Centre. We have proposed three key interventions: re-orientate the building to better address the sea and Pier Square; ‘jack up’ the existing roof by 1 metre; and lastly, build a Wendy House that acts like a public space folded around the building.

The project forms part of a programme of regeneration that includes enhancement works to the Esplanade and Sea Wall, the redevelopment of the Beach Lawns at Pier Square (in which the TIC sits) and a programme of public artworks and temporary events.

The TIC is currently a quiet, low-key building that sits, perhaps a little shyly, between busy roads. The building has little presence and is not visible from any distance. 

The building is also an introvert. From outside the interior is hidden, which is perhaps unwelcoming; however, the building is very well located, in a potentially prominent position with views out to sea and a clear, strong connection to the promenade and Pier Square.

The new orientation would accommodate desire lines and views both of and from the TIC to ensure visitors feel welcome and are able to find what they need. By raising the roof, it would create more head-height, making the space feel larger and increase storage capacity; and allow for natural light and ventilation throughout the building. 

The Wendy House is lacy and perforated so doesn’t obscure views or feel bulky, rather it is more as if the building’s wish to puff out its feathers and be a bit grander has become just visible. The Wendy House element is built over the existing building and consists of a village of amenities that wrap, extend, and interact with the TIC. This village of amenities include shelter, shading, seating, bins, display areas, a kiosk, security, cycle racks, a weathervane, perhaps a postbox and/or clock, signage and hooks and attachments for any number of additions.

The perforations are in a strict grid so the skin could function as a giant cross-stitch fabric to be embroidered. This could be according to local people’s designs with the TIC distributing and collecting drawings on which the embroidery pattern is marked, a little bit like an adult colouring competition!

The Curatorial Vision for the town by Situations and Field Art Projects ‘is inspired by the cultural tradition of the seaside town as a place of escape and wonderment’. With our proposal we aim to contribute to the overall regeneration aims of Weston while enjoying and playing on the fantastical vision.

Our principle objectives for the TIC refurbishment are:

* To nurture the TIC so that it might live up to its full potential as a friendly welcoming personality about the town

* To allow the TIC to reach out to its immediate neighbours and to call out to those further afield whether they be simply further along the beach or in another town or city, seeing or hearing of the TIC

* To ensure the TIC sits happily and at home in its surroundings, being comfortable both in its massing and character with the Seafront and town as a whole

* To achieve all the above in the spirit of seaside escapism and fantasy

The Wendy House skin could act as a base for whatever you can imagine from decorating it with hundreds of balloons for its birthday…

…to fixing and integrating planting and flowers for the ‘In Bloom’ season…

…to going all out with fantastic Christmas decorations.

Once upon a time there was a little building that sat on the seaside in a small town not far from here. She was a good natured building, kind and helpful, but prone to sulking a little, and when left alone without amusement for long periods would shrink into her own thoughts until she was almost unnoticeable to those around her. Her own thoughts usually consisted of glum pining, for this little building was hopelessly in love with a rocky outcrop she could see directly opposite her, out in the water. It was perhaps a little bit stupid of the little building to be in love with a rock she had no hope of ever speaking to or even getting close to, but as they always say, love is blind, and can certainly make even the most intelligent buildings stupid.

Funnily enough, the little building’s sulking and pining and withdrawing into herself, had made her so unnoticeable to those around her, that she herself had begun to resemble an inanimate rock. One day, a lazy bird was flying by on her way home for the summer, and seeing the building as a nice rock on which to take yet another little rest, swooped down and took a perch. The lazy bird looked about from her vantage point to see what distractions might amuse her while waiting for her wings to regenerate themselves, and noticed a handsome gold weathercock, swaying with the most noble gait, its golden feathers glinting fantastically. The lazy bird set immediately to think how she might nonchalantly attract the attention of this magnificent creature, and soon decided on a song. She took a big breath and began to sing in her sweetest and twitteriest tongue, a very stupid love song.

The little building, woken from its own stupid reverie by this very silly love song couldn’t help but laugh, causing the poor little bird to jump half out of her feathers.

“I’m sorry, I’m sorry,” the little building pleaded through her chuckles, “only that is by far the most ridiculous thing I have ever heard.”

The lazy bird, ruffled from her jump and quite put out by the building’s cruel fun said: “You stupid building, you obviously don’t know what it is to be in love.”

The building sighed, “Oh but I do. I have been in love for as long as I can remember and I’ve never reduced myself to such embarrassing whimpering.”

“You! In love! With what are you in love that it causes you to sit sulking to the point of invisibility?”

“Look out that way to the sea and you will see the handsome object of my desires.”

“That rock! That’s miles away! I may sing a silly song but at least I have some hope of my love noticing me.” And with this, the bird resumed her song, more loudly and piercingly than before. The golden weathercock turned about to see where the high-pitched yowling was coming from.

“You see it’s working!” Boasted the bird, “You’d do well to take my advice building.”

The little building saw that in just a few minutes, the weathercock had turned to face them, and so thought, and said: “Oh very well, and what would you advise, lazy bird, I can hardly sing such a stupid song to my elegant love.”

“There is one other thing I sometimes do,” said the bird and with a deep breath and a wiggle, she puffed out her feathers. “See how gorgeous and full my plumes are. You do the same and your rock will notice you. If you like, I will even fly over to him carelessly mentioning to myself ‘Oh my what a beautiful creature that is sitting over there on the shore’ and so on.”

The building blushed a little at the thought, but resolved to take the opportunity of this messenger, took in a deep, deep breath, which raised her stature considerably in itself, and mustered all the strength she had and, in a very building sort of way…

...opened out...

…her feathers.

The lazy bird had flown off the building in astonishment, for she had unveiled the most gleaming and decorated feathers the bird had ever seen.

“You’re splendid!” She exclaimed, “Absolutely splendid!” The building was very pleased with herself and fluttered her new found adornments, fanning gently in the most dignified manner.

“I will fly directly to your rock-love,” offered the suddenly much less lazy bird, who incidentally was very pleased with herself for affecting such a glorious change that she was sure must take a bird of considerable strength of character. And so off flew the bird, out to sea to carelessly mention the magnificence of the building within earshot of the rock.

Meanwhile, the golden weathercock had noticed the building’s transformation and had plucked itself from its clock-tower and was heading over. The weathercock was clearly quite enamoured by the building whom it had never previously seen and after a couple of circles around her, he took a perch on the tip of her feathers and introduced himself…

To be continued…