Hannah Herrmann - Cecelia Vincent
Namur is the industrial heartland of Wallonia. Within Namur lies Recynam, an organisation that recovers and reuses building demolition waste in sustainable ways. Beside Recynam sits Carriere de Bossime, an abandoned limestone quarry and site of natural beauty now inhabited by wild boars. Our fieldwork across the province of Namur led to a fascination with the industrial sculptures and silos that pierce this hybrid landscape of industry and nature.
Studying the work of Bernd and Hilla Becher, particularly the Anonymous Sculptures series, we began to dissect this fascination. Such industrial forms are intriguing as they are designed function first, aesthetics second (if at all). Our experience of them is also unique in that one can never go inside, or often know the function. They are inaccessible, usually viewed through the window of a passing car on the motorway.
This project creates a new lens to experience an Anonymous Sculpture. Our structure retains the allure of this typology in that it does not allow people to go ‘in’, but it provides new perspectives to look up and look down. The monument also provides a platform for Recynam’s soil research programme, a small facility tucked away at the back of the site that stores soil excavations before analysing them for contaminates and finding suitable locations for redistribution.
Learning from the Bechers, we understood a dialogue between frame and mass. Our intention was to design a dismountable structure that could be fully prefabricated; this elemental approach began with the repositioning of the existing interlocking concrete blocks on the site that store and separate soils. Above these walls sits, visibly distinct, a new timber frame with rammed earth blocks sandwiched between the platforms. The blocks, containing recycled concrete gravel from Recynam, are dry stacked between plywood sheathing boards, with steel tension cables holding them and the platforms in place.