Imagine living in this building …
… and having this one in your backyard!
What is it? A common or garden gazebo, according to designer Thomas Heatherwick, known for his innovative use of engineering and materials in public monuments. This remarkable structure is called a ‘Sitooterie’, which supposedly is Scottish for something you ’sit oot’ in. Like much of Heatherwick’s work – for example the Longchamp Store in New York City, a Buddhist temple in Japan or the blue carpet civic square in Newcastle – the Sitooterie defies easy categorisation. It’s clearly though a marvel of design, architecture, structural engineering and fibre optics. [I love the Longchamp Store]
The ‘Sitooterie’ is essentially a 2.4 cubic meter aluminium cube, with a door, a seat, a window and more than 4000 precisely angled holes, each of which holds a hollow aluminium tube cap-sealed with a tiny orange Perspex dome. The tubes all point to the centre of the box and work like optical fibres. At night, just one 100-watt light bulb at the centre can light up the whole space age pincushion; and if someone moves in front of the light, their shadow will appear on the spines, greatly magnified.
The sitooterie is at Barnard’s Farm, near Thurrock, Essex, which could be described as a rather eccentric place. Besides growing and cultivating crab-apples, the farm’s 17 ha property contains a bog garden (see below), kinetic and other sculptures (see example below) and an air strip to welcome – aviators and their flying machines. The Barnard’s Farm website also has a range of links to other garden, conservation sites, the natural history museum and local community pages, possible indicating some level of commitment to sustainable living.