Precedent: Sandworm, Wenduine Belgium

26 Jul

The next few blog entries will publish the drawings and conclusions I made based on making the drawings for my thesis precedent studies.  I researched the Aurland Viewing Platform by Saunders arkitektur & Wilhelmsen arkitektur, the Wenduine Sandworm by Casagrande, and the Roden Crater by James Turrell.  I chose these projects as each one is a distinct and specific architectural response to site, and as indicated from personal accounts of visitors,  engages in a way that imparts a personal experience of the land and a lasting memory of place.

I intended to do a series of two drawings for each precedent.  The first drawing explores the land in which the project belongs, it’s history and character.  The second drawing analyses the human experience with place facilitated by the project.

This blog entry explores Drawing I Wenduine, which analyses the Belgium location of Casagrande’s Sandworm project.  The images below of the Sandworm are from

Casagrand1 Casagrande2 Casagrand3I find starting with a hypothesis about a project when I begin my precedent study helps guide me through my research.  For the Sandworm project I assumed the woven material and undulating form of the worm made a statement about dune stabilization, taking a stand, putting in roots amidst a constantly moving environment.

So I was flowing through sources on the site, specifically the beachfront – searching for dune information. I found one ocean dune reacts and behaves like so many other dunes in all areas of the world. I needed something more specific to this site.  Ironically, finding something specific often requires a wider gaze.

I found a Belgian government database that kept records of the entire national coastline from the 1700’s.  I was able to monitor change as it occurred around my site thanks to the datum of a road that evolved into a train line.  Because of this consistent marker I could monitor change to the West (Ocean side) as well as to the East (Land side) of the line.  The various maps and aerial photographs tell a story of rural development, industrial progress, war, tourism development and the birth of ecological awareness.  Look at the progression and retreat of the sand, the dunes, and farmland.  The dates correspond to significant changes in the social fabric of the area.MismashWenduineSite

So I could argue my original hypothesis was correct based on a very local interpretation.  However, once I looked at my site as part of a larger system, I could see the opposite was true: whether intentional or not, the Casagrande structure exemplified the limited lifespan of man made objects, the shifting of human priorities, and the futility with which we attempt to control nature.

The Worm is not about stabilization; in it’s rugged loose-ness, and transitory materials it exemplifies the constant change that is the Belgian seashore caught in between the omnipotent force of nature and the whims of man.

n.b. If you would like to use any of the images from this blog, and specifically my drawings, I only ask you give credit to the artist, author, and the site on which you found them. Thank you, Lester.


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