A Seat On The Horizon

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jake@designhousestudio.co.uk Composite Theme Submission

Bench Numbers:
Estimated Hours Taken:
See the note of the project
According to benches : steel, timber, concrete, brick
Ground Preparation:
For more information, see the note of the project:

Bench 1:
- Concrete pile at the location of the pivot
- Sand structure
- Eventual earthmoving

Bench II:
Half circle I: Concrete block pavement frame placed on sand structure
Half circle II: No specific preparation

Bench III: Both brick pavement and “sealumns” are placed on a sand structure

Bench IV:
- Sand structure for the concrete plinth
- Concete foundation for the portico

Bench XI-X:
- Sand structure for concrete ramp
- No other specific ground preparation is required.

Bench XI:
- Concrete foundation for the concrete base above the trunk
- Sand structure above the concrete blocks

Bench XII:
No specific ground preparation is required.
Fixings / installation:
For more information, see the note of the project:

Bench 1:
1. Gate-bench fabricated in a workshop (wooden structure with bearing axis integrated)
2. Floor + concrete pile made on site
3. Installation of the gate-bench
4. Sealing of the bearing axis (on the concrete pile. The axis will also eventually be clip on the brick existing wall)

Bench II:
1. Half circle II bench: Timber frame fabricated in a workshop, then anchored to the ground with micro steel piles
2. Half circle I bench: cast-in-place

Bench III:
All the elements will be built on site. Steps:
1. Sand structure + pavement frame
2. Placement of the « sealumns »

Bench IV:
1. Portico (concrete + steel structure) fabricated in a workshop
2. Concrete foundation and sand structure are made on site
3. Concrete plinth cast in place
4. Portico is anchored to the foundation

Bench XI-X:
The steel structure profiles will be anchored in the ground with micro steel piles.

Bench XI:
All the bench will be built on site. Steps:
1. Implementation of the sand structure and of the concrete foundation (above the oak trunk)
2. Precast concrete blocks are cast in workshop then brought and put on site
3. Oak trunk is raised with a mobile crane, and anchored on the steel axis
4. Ropes/Cables are fixed and tightened

Bench XII:
- The two greenhouse arches are anchored to 4 micro steel piles, directly planted in the soil
For more information, see the note of the project:

Bench 1:
Eventual sanding (wood) and varnishing (steel), every 5 years to 10 years, depending on the climatic conditions.

Bench II:
Eventual sanding (wood) and varnishing (steel), between every 5 to 10 years, depending on the climatic conditions.

Bench III:
No specific maintenance. We assume that brick-laying can age as the cemetery walls.

Bench IV:
Eventual varnishing (steel frame) every 5 years to 10 years, depending on the climatic conditions.

Bench XI-X:
- Eventual sanding (wood) and varnishing (steel) every 5 to 10 years, depending on the climatic conditions.
- Regular maintenance by a gardener is required to guide tree growth.

Bench XI:
No specific maintenance required. Regular security check of ropes fixation and the ropes tensile capacity.

Bench XII:
No maintenance. Eventual varnishing (steel) every 5 to 10 years, depending on the climatic conditions.
Bench 1: 2500 -3500 €; Bench II: 700 -1400€; Bench III: 400 - 600 €; Bench IV:1200-1600€; Bench XI-X:: 1200 -1800€; Bench XI: 2500/3100€ ; Bench XII: 400 -600€
About your theme:

The cemetery space, it is the stretching of space, Where two opposing forces tear both poles of the individual.
Body rescinds to the ground, the spirit to the sky, The cemetery becomes he horizon.

Entering a cemetery, One feels this huge force that links us to mother earth. Where tombstones seem to have fallen from the sky, To settle profoundly into the loose earth. It's to lift its spirit on top of its own existence, Trusting in a life after life, Or thinking to that day, when we will think no more.

But we never leave a cemetery quite the same as we entered. Sit down in a cemetery, It's thus that renders the experience of this instability, It's swinging, Pushed by these two opposite forces, Rise And fall.

As an evocation of the meaning of our lives, Or quite simply, A livelier way to experience the resting place, Of our close friends and families Through our composite theme proposal, we would like to explore how this instability, these opposing forces and the movement they create can design 'seats to remember'. We explore how this narrative can reimagine the cemetery space, unify and situate the Rectory Lane Cemetery as both an existential and playful experience.

Bench 1: "The Pivot"

To revolve is to turn, to turn over, to question, to pass from one state to another, to put part of its being in disequilibrium to find a new state of equilibrium. This bench is the junction between two worlds. It questions and creates a strong dialectic between the passage from life to death.

A bench where one can sit when entering or leaving the cemetery, but also a bench for passers-by when the cemetery is closed. Inscribed in the thickness of the portal, it also it create a new door and affirms the entrance of the cemetery. By opening and closing, the pivot bench draws on the ground a circular welcome area, creating a new meeting point for the city. Its wooden strut structural system marks the importance of the place and provides an identity to the entrance.

Bench II: "Archimedes"

According to Cicero, Archimedes would have asked that a sphere be engraved on his tomb. The sphere is directly associated with the earth and with the concept of infinity, of equality between things, for all the points of a sphere are situated exactly equidistant from the centre. As an evocation of a sphere, embedded in the earth, disposed in imbalance, the Archimedes bench questions the physical relationship that the visitor maintains with the cemetery and also with death. It marks a strong stage in the promenade of the Rectory Lane, through its round form it invites rest, and by its inclination it recalls the qualities of the elements (fire, water, earth and air) which allow the existence of matter and therefore of being. This bench consists of two half-circles; one solid, made of concrete, embedded in the ground, representing flesh, the Eucharistic communion, and direct contact with Christ. The other part of the bench, lighter, almost transparent, helps us to raise our soul and come in direct contact with our ancestors, a way to interceded between God and man. Well positioned along the axial path, it also guides our eyes to the next step of the walk: the Foundation Stone.

Bench III: "The elementary particles"

This bench wants to tell the story of life and beginnings, it is the square, the public garden, the Greek agora, the Roman forum. It must go beyond the idea of time and tell the story of Berkhamsted, but also of their hosts. The particularity of this bench is that of being multiple. It changes shape, or skin, according to the seasons, the humors or the habits of the inhabitants. It consists of a base, round, on which dock 6 plots of brick. These studs are armchairs, and become columns to accommodate the various possible arrangements. One day, a scene, the next day a sitting, a few days later a table to picnic among friends to get together. Its shape and composition give rise to the creativity and expression of each who encounters it. Without planning, it becomes a place where one wants to meet, and think too.

Bench IV: "The Portico bench"

The Foundation stone is visible from a distance, at the end of a long perspective. Looking a little more precisely, we note an amusing coincidence, the profiles of the house, the inverted "v", follows the same lines as the Foundation Stone. The Portico insists on the dialogue of the elements between the dwelling that projects us from the Berkhamsted Town of 2016 to the Foundation Stone which portrays a family that has contributed to the development of the English economy. Also referenced is Ashridge House, which uses the figure of the portico as a generic compositional element. The portico bench longs to guide the steps of the visitor from the Lower Zone to the Middle Zone, by reversing its usual shape. More than a simple bench, the Portico become both a place to lie down, looking at the sky, and a giant signage that shows us the direction; linking the two parts of the cemetery.

Bench XI-X: "The bench that grows"

What marks the location of benches 9 and 10 is its proximity to a set of dwellings, but also the absence of plants. The proposal is then to make 2 benches into a single bench, built as a support frame for the growth of local plants and trees. This bench design will guarantees trees favorable conditions to develop along the structure, thereby creating a vegetal screen. This new planted space will be mastered by the hand of man (a gardener or members of the Friends of St Peter's) who can vary the size of the trees, the porosity, and the transparency of this planting according to the seasons and the evolution of the cemetery. This botanical bench is in permanent evolution, it does not remain static. It evolves, changing with the seasons and also marks the roots of younger generations in the history of rectory lane. It becomes a natural memorial, one that changes every year. Finally, the height of the seat, which is slightly raised (1 meter above the ground, but accessible with a ramp), will provide the visitor with an open view on the Bulbourne valley that modern constructions have often forgotten.

Bench XI: "The Totem"

We could build a bench on the trunk, its diameter offers the possibility. Yet, this oak is part of the memory of the place, it grew on the lands of the Rectory Lane, flourished there, shaded passers-by and then went out there. Some visitors certainly admired him, for his size, his foliage, rested there to enjoy his shade and to collect their thoughts. We believe that it can also become a memorial itself, to once again become a place of gathering or meeting for visitors and families. It echoes the Totem Pole, located near the Grand Union Canal. In order to stand upright, its new balance is made possible thanks to the ropes that pull it and which are anchored to the ground only through the block concrete benches, also playing the role of counterweight. The benches and the people who sit there participate in the balance of the oak. This place becomes a place of community, a place of gathering, a link between past history and the life of the inhabitants of Berkhamsted, representing the memory and the transmission of values, through this incredible adventure of existence.

Bench XII: "The swing"

As the last bench of the Promenade of the Rectory Lane Cemetery, the swing is the lightest, but most meaningful bench. Made of two very light steel arches in continuity with the avenue of trees, it refers to the instability of our lives, our feelings when we come to such a place, the infinite cycle of life and death, our human condition and the constraints of the forces of gravity, but also to the joy of experiencing this gravity. On the ridge of the cemetery, it's also the best place to contemplate the landscape of the Bulbourne valley and to open our mind both to the past, the present and the future.