Gabor Stark, a senior lecturer at the University for the Creative Arts (UCA) Canterbury School of Architecture has been appointed by The Land Trust to work on the realisation of an archaeological shelter and communal gardening area at the West Wing Battery of Fort Burgoyne in Dover.
The West Wing is classified as a Scheduled Ancient Monument and forms part of the wider Fort Burgoyne complex. Originally built in the 1860s to defend Dover Castle from inland invasion, the Fort was in permanent military use until 2006 and is now managed by the Land Trust.
Together with Pioneering Places, the Land Trust have initiated a 'Year of Engagement' intended to explore future uses of the site alongside the ongoing stabilisation and conservation works. In 2019, Charles Holland Architects and Dover Arts Development (DAD) conducted a public engagement programme to develop ideas for future public uses of the West Wing Battery.
Gabor will collaborate with Lee Evans Partnership – the heritage architects for the Ancient Scheduled Monument – on the development of seating and raised planters which will enable the community to both take in the spectacular vistas from the viewing point of the Battery, and take on the management of a small garden space following in the footsteps of one of Connaught Barracks commanding officer who is said to have had a garden in the Battery.
Image © Gabor Stark
Gabor explained, “The structure combines the protection and interpretation of the archaeological remains of a 1940’s building – concrete blocks, paving slabs, corrugated iron sheeting and a weapon pit – with the provision of a new viewing, seating and communal gardening area.”
The project motto – Mais Il Faut Cultiver Notre Jardin – is borrowed from the last sentence of Voltaire’s satirical novel Candide (1759). Having travelled the “best of all possible worlds”, only to encounter an endless array of disasters, wars and other human follies, the hero famously recommends horticultural care as an antidote to ideological doctrines and as a prescription for a contended and fulfilled life. “That is well put, replied Candide, but we have to cultivate our garden.”
“The project adopts Candide’s advice and proposes to cultivate Fort Burgoyne’s West Wing Battery as “Our Garden”. The aim is to contribute to the transformation of the 19th Century Land Front Fort into a communal and inclusive recreational place through the acts of horticultural and civic care,” said Gabor.
Images © Gabor Stark
“We are delighted to cooperate with Gabor on the orchestration of public events to continue the art led community engagement and placemaking process,” said DAD. “The aim is to involve the pupils, their parents and teachers of the nearby Guston Church of England Primary School and other Dovorian Garden Guardians in the long-term management and maintenance of the communal garden space”.
For more information, please visit Gabor’s blog.
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