Greatham Creek is known for its growing population of Seals, (Harbour and Grey Seals). The location of the Seal Hide looks over a favoured haul-out location for the Harbour seals. Up to 98 seals have been counted moulting on the sand banks at high tide.
The Hide design is a bold icon to represent this ambitious regeneration project. Aiming to appeal to both the serious enthusiasts while also attracting casual visitors. A functional sculpture
An ornate faceted façade consisting of perforated screens, nestled on the embankment, the form evokes connotations of a seal curled on the bank. The hide is partially submerged, reducing the apparent size. A panoramic slot elevates the facade, appearing to hover above the bank, allowing views out from just over grass level. A crescent moon roof offers protection over the observation points, while maintaining the framing of the sky.
Inspired by the speckled hides of the seals, the screens are perforated with circular patterns that gradate in density. Twin layers create a dynamic parallax effect, that changes dependent on viewing angle. The parallax effect also minimises visual disturbance to the seals, camouflaging the visitors inside the Hide. The façade offers both dedicated viewing portals and fractured glimpses.
The strong geometric form and sturdy materials are offset by the soft organic perforations and elevated slot. Weathering Steel was chosen as the primary material, in reference to the area’s industrial history nicknamed ‘Ironopolis’. Its rich and textured surface offers a tactile depth that will age, with a colour that ties to the mud flats and newly breached salt marsh.
However, the seals are not a permanent fixture at the creek and cannot always be relied on being there to greet the visitors who have made the trip. Therefore, the Hide has been designed as a destination in itself. An intimate space, that faces skyward. A sculpture that stimulates the senses. A space that celebrates light and shadow.