Our ‘Emerging Concept’ to “encourage wildlife who are natural residents of the reaches back into the town, and the urban residents of the town out into the reaches” contains inherent dualities between natural and manmade, and between the reaches and the town.
In developing our ideas to explore the notion of a ‘habitable river infrastructure’ having more than one, but a series of sculptural installations in the water, these dualities began to express themselves and to influence our thinking about the design of each of the pieces, in considering their:form, scale, mass, material and location.
Our illustrations and sketches depict small ‘avifauna lodges’ (‘habitat houses’), and large ‘fluvial topiaries’ (‘river-borne sculptures’) with the common theme of being supported on and part of a tree-like supporting structure rising out of the water. Parallel to the aesthetic development; founding the structures in the bed of the River Cleddau not only poses an engineering challenge but also a legislative one. How will the structures be adequately fixed and supported? How will each site be assessed? Will the structures have any adverse effects on the flow rate and cause obstruction? Who owns the river? Who gives the necessary permission?
Just as building structures on land requires formal Planning Permission, so too building in water requires formal Marine Licensing. There are a number of regulatory and advisory organisations, providing governance and maintenance of the waterways across the country; at national and regional level, with some localised to particular extents of water.
We held a site visit with officers from National Resources Wales and Pembrokeshire County Council to look into the legislative context and practical implications of the proposals for installations sited in the river, to investigate and evaluate the potential strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats posed by such an engineering challenge.
We also sought guidance from a range of specialist marine engineers and contractors, regarding the feasibility and cost of such proposals. Cost, engineering, licensing, restrictions on the access and time –limits (restriction from October 15 ) dictated by fish spawning are some of the real factors influencing the scheme at this stage.