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Sliding Façade Exposes House in UK


By Jill M. Speegle

After being abandoned for 11 years, a four-story house in Margate, England, is now the site of an unusual art installation—a brick façade that appears to be sliding off the building, exposing its decrepit innards.

From the knees of my nose to the belly of my toes
Images: Alex Chinneck and Stephen O'Flaherty

The public artwork, "From the knees of my nose to the belly of my toes," opened Sept. 29. It will remain installed until October 2014.

British artist and designer Alex Chinneck, 28, was the mastermind behind the project, which is intended to present an element of spectacle in a place one expects to find something familiar.

The new artwork opened to the public Sept. 29.

Transforming the Façade

Chinneck said it took a year to complete the project entitled “From the knees of my nose to the belly of my toes,” according to project details provided by the artist.

He spent the first six months convincing British companies to donate building materials, manufacturing capabilities and professional services for his ambitious project.

To create the sliding aesthetic, Chinneck says the bricks were cut and glued onto sheets of bent steel, according to a report in The Guardian. The pieces were then forklifted on to water-jet cutting machine and cut, the report said.

From the knees of my nose to the belly of my toes

British companies donated building materials, manufacturing capabilities and professional services for the project.

"Architecture provides a fantastic canvas for sculpture," Chinneck told the newspaper.

"When you create artworks at that scale, they are impossible to ignore."

Empty House, Public Art

The Thanet District Council permitted him to use an empty property in the Cliftonville area of Margate for the installation, where it will remain installed until October 2014.

Cliftonville’s architecture and challenging social issues have long characterized the area, according to project literature. On its website, the council documents high rates of unemployment, drug usage and crime that have plagued the neighborhood for decades.

However, in recent years, there has been a push to regenerate and restore the seaside area.

From the knees of my nose to the belly of my toes

To create the slipping aesthetic, artist Alex Chinneck says the bricks were cut and glued onto sheets of bent steel.

Thus, Chinneck’s installation appears to speak to the deprivation of the area shrouded in architecture, but it also represents a renewal and cultural revival with public art.

Past Work, Future Project

It’s not the first piece of architectural illusion with a social message Chinneck has completed.

His “Telling the truth through false teeth,” completed in 2012, features a factory in Hackney that looks as though its 312 windows had all be busted in identical fashion.

Images of that project are viewable in this Dezeen article.

Chinneck’s next project will be an upside down façade in London, according to this interview posted by the Thanet District Council.

Alex Chinneck

Alex Chinneck says architecture provides a "fantastic canvas for sculpture."

Based in London, Chinneck is the founder of The Sculpture House, a member of the Royal British Society of Sculptors, and a graduate of Chelsea College of Art and Design.


Jill M. Speegle

Jill Speegle is the Editor of Durability + Design News. She earned her B.A. in journalism and English as well as her J.D. from the University of Arkansas. In Sketches, Jill shares her thoughts on a number of topics that may be of interest to the D+D community, including architecture, interior design, green building, historic restoration, and whatever else catches her radar.



Tagged categories: Architecture; Color; Design; Green building; Interior design; Restoration; Aesthetics; Artists; Brick; Building design; Building facades; Color + Design; Designers

Comment from john lienert, (10/8/2013, 9:06 AM)

wow...........lotta' work.........good job

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