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ANGELA WRIGHT

 

"POWER HOUSE" -  STREET FACADES OF 54-58 UNION STREET, LONDON, SE1 

 

begun as a public-site installation for the London Festival of Architecture 2008.
site plus cable-hung 'blinds' of PVC-polyester with "Grafisoft" adhesive-vinyl drawings
viewable from 28 June 2008  
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MAKING THE WORK    
Photos: David Carr-Smith / Angela Wright / Gary Black

 

 

1 -  THE SITE

 

The work was conceived when I walked down Union Street in late 2007 and saw the cement-rendered blank windows of R.K.Burt's warehouse on the rather desolate north side of the street's 'village square'. These brick-framed cement-blocked 'windows' resembled blank canvasses waiting for paintings!

 

     

Paste-up 2-pics 24-3-08 
The north side of Union Street's 'village square' (at its junction with Southwark Bridge Road). The row of buildings on the north side of this triangular space range from  monumental railway architecture, through derelict 18/19thC buildings braced by scaffolding, to the ex electricity sub station's admin block and machine hall (the latter now R. K. Burt artist' paper warehouse), to a music school.

...

     

Paste-up 3-pics 28-12-08
The north side of Union Street's 'village square' with the "Power House" installation.

 

 

 


2 -  SKETCHES

 

The work started as sketches - drawn, cutout, glued, collaged.

 

early 3-08

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Pic 17-3-08  

Pic 17-3-08

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Pic 17-3-08  

 

21-3-08

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Pic 21-3-08  

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Pic 14-5-09

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Pic 21-3-08  

 

22-3-08

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Pic 23-3-08  

 

Pic 25-3-08

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 Pic 27-3-08

 

Pic 27-3-08

 

 


3 -  ON SITE - MEASURING THE 'WINDOWS'

 

On the 24 March Angela measured the 5 rendered window spaces: 4 on the main facade and 1 on the side - using long taped-together measuring-canes from the pavement and subsequently counting bricks from photos (we did not yet have access to the roof !).  

 

The four blocked windows on the main-facade are all 6.40m high. Window-1 is 2.4m wide and the other three are 2m wide. Window-5 on the side facade is uniquely 3.8m by 4.58m. Windows 1 and 5 will pose a special fabrication problem: they exceed the 2m width of the pvc-polyester fabric which will have to be strongly and invisibly joined.

 

24-3-08
Counting from the left end of the main facade are 'windows' 1, 2, 3, 4. Round the corner is 5.

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24-3-08
'Window' 5 on the side facade.

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24-3-08
Angela measures the 'windows' with long canes.

 

 

 


4 -  TETTERODE COLLECTIVE, AMSTERDAM - DEVELOPING THE BLINDS

 

During April and May the development of the 'window-blinds for blind-windows' began in an Amsterdam studio whose high walls and big ex-factory window facilitated the work physically and subjectively.

 

14-4-08

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15-4-08

 

16-4-08

Spin-off from main line of investigation : sunlight through coloured acrylic stuck to window, projects its image.

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18-4-08

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18-4-08

Spin-off from main line of investigation : coloured acrylic offcuts strung onto wires.

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18-4-08

 

18-4-08

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24-4-08

 

27-4-08

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28-4-08

 

7-5-08

Tetterode work has returned to the London studio.

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7-5-08

Tetterode work spread out in London studio.

 


 

5 -  ON SITE - COLOUR TEST

 

Soon after returning from Tetterode some of the 'models' made there were taken to the installation site to test colour alternatives. Available are four colours of PVC-polyester fabric and several colours of Gravisoft adhesive-vinal.

 

11-5-08

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11-5-08

 

11-5-08

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11-5-08

 

11-5-08

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11-5-08

 

 

 


6 -  LONDON STUDIO - MAKING THE BLINDS

 

During May and June the making of the five 'blinds' filled my London studio. The 4 blinds across the building's main facade 1, 2, 3, 4 were made in reverse order from right to left. The single blind 5 on the side facade was left to last. Blinds 1 and 5 are spacial - both wider than the other three - blind 1 would require two PVC strips to be joined, and blind 5 would need three. 

 

25-5-08
Blind-4 was the first to be made. The big roll of PVC-polyester has been unrolled for the first time, but not yet cut to length.
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27-5-08
Blind-4 - the white Gravisoft drawing has just started.

27-5-08 
Blind-4 - Angela is cutting Gravisoft strips ('drawing-marks').

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28-5-08
Blind-4 

       

30-5-08
Blind-4 

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30-5-08
Blind-4 - almost finished.

1-6-08
Blind-3 

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1-6-08
Blind-3 

6-6-08
Blind-3
 - drawing finished (pre attaching onto steel tubes). 

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6-6-08
Blind-3 

7-6-08
Blind-2 

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8-6-08
Blind-2 

9-6-08
Blind-2 

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10-6-08
Blind-2 

11-6-08
Blind-1 is wider than the previous three. The first (full-width) length of fabric is laid down.

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11-6-08
Blind-1 - Angela has joined the two lengths and examines the join.

12-6-08
Blind-1 - its underside is folded back over its front, showing the taped join.

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13-6-08
Blind-1 

14-6-08
Blind-1 

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15-6-08
Blind-1 - drawing is finished (pre attachment to steel tubes).

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15-6-08
Blind-5 - this uniquely wider-than-long side-facade blind is laid across the studio with its top to the left. It has been made of three joined lengths of PVC; the narrowest is in the centre - the least stressed position when hung and wind butteted; (the white Gravisoft strips that  reinforce the two joins are just visible through the fabric)

15-6-08
Blind-5 - the Gravisoft drawing has started.

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16-6-08
Blind-
5 - The option of covering this blind with a close-spaced 'venetian-blind' of narrow strips is being tested - it was not adopted - this is the only blind without this additional rhythmical layer.

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17-6-08
Blind-5 - drawing finished (pre attachment to steel tubes)..

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7 -  LONDON STUDIO - MOUNTING THE BLINDS

 

In mid June, with the blind-drawings completed, work began on their means of suspension. At top and bottom the blinds were fixed to steel tubes and these were fitted with cables, at the top to suspend them from the building's roof balustrade and at the bottom to secure them to its walls.

 

17-6-08
The blinds are ready for their suspension system. Steel-tubes will be inserted top and bottom and glued to the blind and the join reinforced with rivited-on ali-strapping. Then, at the four corners, strapping and tubes will be drilled and steel cable threaded through and secured with ferrules. The components are being made in the yard - here Angela is preparing cable.

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17-6-08

A portion of blind-fabric folded and glued around a heavy steel tube has been hanging across the gate testing the strength of the adhesive.

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17-6-08
This temporary work surface displays the (transient) pattern of a particular practical task.
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17-6-08

Steel tubes are being cut, and if necessary joined. 

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18-6-08

Patrick Sweeny (technical consultant) and Clive Burton (sculptor and constructor) discuss a method of fixing the PVC fabric to steel-tube.

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19-6-08
The blinds have been sealed to their steel tubes. Patrick is fixing suspension cables.

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19-6-08

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19-6-08
The blinds have been rolled and packed for transport to their Union Street site tomorrow.

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8 -   ON SITE - INSTALLING THE BLINDS

 

Installing began on 19th June with blind-5, and blinds 4 and 3 the next day. However the hanging system and procedures proved only partially successful and it was decided to take down blinds 4 and 3 and upgrade them all: 4,3,2,1, in the adjacent unused office space. Hanging resumed on the 28th of June. Blind-5, whose width had required a stronger support, was adequate and would not be upgraded and rehung until 20th July. The pictures below show the sequence of hanging, upgrading, re-hanging. 

 

19-6-08
Blind 5 was the first to be hung.  
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19-6-08
Blind 5 is being hung by Clive Burton, Angela Wright, Patrick Sweeney. Steel suspension cables are being attached to the roof-railing.
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21-6-08 
In preparation for raising the front facade blinds Patrick is drilling the wall to screw in ring-bolts for securing the bottom cables..  
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21-6-08 
Blind 4 was the first to be raised; here Angela is preparing its hauling-up cords.  
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21-6-08 
Blind 4 is being hung.

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21-6-08
Blind 4 - Patrick is securing its suspension cables to the roof railing.

21-6-08 
Blinds 5/4/3 -
three blinds have been hung in the first three days. However, during the next four days the suspension system was found to be inadequate and it was decided to upgrade it. Blind 5 was stronger, its width had required three cables and it's upgrade was postponed. 

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26-6-08
Blinds 3/4 were taken down (their suspension system found to be inadequate) and all the four front-facade blinds (1/2/3/4) were brought into an unused office in the adjacent building to be upgraded. Angela and Patrick discuss the work.
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26-6-08
Blinds 1/2/3/4 are wrapped against the dirt of the unused room. Here Angela is taping-up a suspension cable to prevent its entanglement when its blind is raised. 

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26-6-08
Patrick is fixing a suspension cable. 

26-6-08
The suspension cable is threaded round a 'thimble' to prevent chafing; its ends squeezed together by copper 'ferrules' and, for extra safety, clamped in a 'dog' whose nuts are being tightened.

 

28-6-08 - Pic GARY BLACK 
Hanging resumed today, starting with blind 4; here blind 3 is held against the wind by Dave and Angela while Patrick secures the bottom corners. 

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28-6-08 - Pic GARY BLACK 
Blind 3/4

28-6-08 - Pic GARY BLACK 
Blind 3 - Dave and Angela hold the blind against the wind while Patrick secures the bottom corners.

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28-6-08 - Pic GARY BLACK 
Blind-1 is waiting to be hauled up. From its top are ropes to the roof and from its bottom ropes are threaded through the wall's ring-bolts to steady it when it rises. Blind-1 is the last of the row to be rehung with the improved system.

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28-6-08 - Pic GARY BLACK  
Blinds-1/2/3/4
- Blind-1 is beginning to rise.

28-6-08 - Pic GARY BLACK 
Blinds-1/2 - raising blind-1.

28-6-08 - Pic GARY BLACK  
Blinds-1/2/3/4 - Patrick and Dave on the roof adjust Blind-1 for height and lateral position, while Angela prevents it flapping in the breeze and judges positioning.

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28-6-08 - Pic GARY BLACK  
Blinds-1/2/3 - Blind-1 is being secured to the wall-rings.

20-7-08
Blind-5 - three weeks later Blind-5 has also been fitted with the improved system and is being carried out of the building for rehanging.

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20-7-08
Blind-5 - is prepared for rehang.

20-7-08
Blind-5 - Angela steadies the blind as Patrick adjusts and secures the suspension cables.

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9 -  THE FINISHED WORK  

 

The blinds survived with regular inspection and minor mantenance until late Jan 09 when random wind damage had accumulated to a degree that required renovation. They were removed on 21st Jan 09 and were rehung in mid July 09.

 

The completed installation is shown on page-1:  



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