Video: Greenpeace’s labyrinthine Heathrow fortress

May 18, 2010
  • Article by Online Editor
  • Designer

Environmental activists Greenpeace have announced the winner of their competition, the Heathrow Contest, which asked architects to design a fortress that would allow protesters to physically block the construction of Heathrow’s third runway if construction went ahead.

Entitled Groundswell, the winning design was created by architecture graduates and designers Lukas Barry and Alastair Parvin, both based in London. Their proposal features a network of rooms and tunnels hidden beneath a mound of earth.


Heathrow Airplot Competition from Greenpeace UK on Vimeo.

A panel of judges, including Turner Prize-winning sculptor Rachael Whiteread and architect Peter Clegg of Fielden Clegg Bradley Studios, admired the winning entry for its simplicity, beauty and because it encouraged a collaborative approach to its construction.

Greenpeace describe the winning entry as a “defendable structure, which is a physical articulation of people-power. It will be collectively created by the thousands of individuals who oppose the runway plans, each person contributing a sack of earth to build up the structure. The tunnel network within the structure will be kept a carefully guarded secret.”

Barry and Parvin described their design, saying: “What really grabbed us about this project was that it was an opportunity to explore a fundamentally different way of making things. Where traditional architecture has always been built by the few to impress upon the many, this would be the opposite: a structure built by the many to impress upon the few. If groundswell goes ahead, we think it will be the world’s first truly ‘crowd-funded’ structure.”

The competition, launched in January, invited architects, architecture students and the general public to submit designs for a structure that would physically block the planned construction of the third runway at London’s Heathrow Airport.

The announcement of the winning design comes after plans for the third runway were scraped by the UK’s new coalition government.

There will be an exhibition of a selection of the best designs at the Bargehouse Gallery in London, from 2-6 June 2010.

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