As part of Cardiff Contemporary 2014, artist and designer Alex Rich presents a series of interventions throughout the city. Starting with visual research and taking his starting point as the Cardiff maritime experience and the legacies of international trading.
Working with g39 and based at the iconic pink tower in Cardiff bay. This distinctive, elevated building was designed to be used by event organisers to start and control races in the estuary, but is little used. It became Alex’s studio for the duration of the festival. His interventions and observations allow us to experience the city and the sea in new ways as sites for activity, deep thought and play.
Under the umbrella title Reflections Towards a Well-tempered Environment he explored the facets of communication as a tool within our social fabric, manifesting itself in collaborations across disciplines. The title is taken from Reyner Banham’s book, Architecture of the Well-Tempered Environment and Banham was a pioneer in arguing that technology, human needs, and environmental concerns must be considered an integral part of architecture. The thought process, research and planning took Alex all over Cardiff in pursuit of resonant sites, and the alternative was always Possible Pavilions.
The first response was built on Cardiff Bay Barrage, called HIDE, it was based on temporary bird-viewing sheds. Drawing on the architecture of camouflage and concealment, as well as framing the view, the building was a sculpture as much as a room. Attended by invigilators for the duration of the festival it became a site for reading, for watching the sea and for conversation.
At the end of the festival HIDE was dismantled, and reconstructed in the allotments on the Penarth hill opposite the barrage.
Throughout his thinking, examples such as Marjetica Potrc's Urban Farm represented what Alex wanted to avoid. Her Urban Farm project still sits dormant and neglected and slowly decaying, it was a key problem with the idea and effort of a month-long festival.
Just as a shipping container embraces this reality, returning to its former life, ready for its next call. There is something about HIDE which prompted its relation to the greater scheme of things. The allotment building now falls outside of the festival, but in itself is an appropriate continuation of the project.
Reflections Towards a Well-tempered Environment also happened across a number of other sites, on The Hayes, Wood Street and at g39.