A Journey of Transformation

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jake@designhousestudio.co.uk Composite Theme Submission

Bench Numbers:
Estimated Hours Taken:
56 hours aprox. for each site-bench
Rattan, Metal, Marble, Concrete, Water, Grass
Ground Preparation:
The approach to the ground, is that the bench is not just an object suddenly "installed" on the ground, but that the ground where it lies contains it, relates to it and is also intervened, and part of the bench, like a little cosmos, ...

Each bench-cosmos has different measurements and depth of intervention, but generally the preparation would be as follows:

- First need to frame the area for the excavation

- Second need to excavate (According to the drawings)

- Third need to build the retaining wall, put in the water pipes and channels for water system and the form-work or shuttering for the concrete platform, then put the metal mesh inside the form-work, and fill it with the concrete.

- Fourth, once the concrete is dried, take off the form-work, and put the marble finish on top and on the retaining walls and steps. (The marble should be Travertine or any other economical one that could be found locally).

- Fifth, install the Cocoon-seat on top of the Marble-Concrete platform with metal fixings.

- Sixth, put the grass on the ground, water it.

- Seventh, install the Poetry on the walls and steps.
Fixings / installation:
Each bench will be fixed on top of the built Marble-concrete platform with metal fixings made specially for the Cocoon-benches.
Each bench and ground setting has different measurements and characteristics, but in average, here is one estimate cost for each site-bench: - Cocoon-seat: US$400, Marble-Concrete Platorm: US$1.250. The excavation, the retaining wall, the water system, the grass, an the poetry will depend on the hand labor cost of UK.
About your theme:
The journey through these benches is a journey of transformation, a process of letting go, attachment and detachment, a pause of meditation, where one goes through the deepest pains, going first down touching the earth, sinking with them; until reaching out to the rising to heaven.
The benches are understand not just as satellites that landed on the ground, but as rooted sites, just like the people that has passed away are rooted. They are part of our lives, weather we knew them or not, part of the whole, part of the very ground of the cemetery. As Charles L. Dodgson said: "Every life, bears upon, or ought to bear upon the life of others.", and as John Donne said: "No man is an island entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main;... any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind..." and we, all of we, are involved in the lives of this men or women, young or old, buried here in the cemetery of Rectory Lane.
Keeping this in mind, that this, though a beautiful place where people may come to rest and relax as well, is not just any park, it is a cemetery, and with it, is charged with a deeper reflective meaning.
The benches-cosmos have three main elements:
- The marble ramp or platform which represents life's passage, earthly life, thick and heavy yet beautiful as well.
- The wicker Cocoon-seat which represents a 'Baby-Moses nest', a fragile element, yet containing us, a remembrance that, thou, we stand on this life's passage, our existence is very fragile and short, delicate, momentary, that our life on earth is just "the childhood of our immortality" as Goethe said.
- The water represents life running through our veins... their travel through the steps, retaining walls, ramp, and ground again, does not touch the cocoon, where we are seated, the cocoon remains floating on top of life's passage. As Albert Einstein said: "We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience."
This elements have changes in the composition scheme of the benches-sites as it goes up:
In the first bench your body is sunk into the ground, but your head is right above the ground level, between the two worlds, the process of transformation needs to go down first in order to go up again.
The ramp or marble platform, goes under the ground level (1,2,3 and 4 benches) and slowly changes its inclination above the ground. (9,10,11 and 12 benches)
The Cocoon, is solitary at first, meditative, to read a book, to meditate, the steps would be carved or with inlaid letters with beautiful poetry from English writers and poets from Berkhamsted ..., then the Cocoon-seats becomes wider adding more space in it, and as it goes up with the ramp, it also looses its confinement. It has different layers of wicker, like ripples in the water of time, that accompanies the transformation process by opening up this layers, from being completely enclosed in three layers of wicker, until finally they open like a bud allowing more light to enter and our view is broaden all about one and up to heaven again.
This journey of elevation and expansion, from bench number one through twelve is supported by the natural ground of the cemetery that goes up as well.
"All that live must die, passing through nature to eternity." William Shakespeare