Photograph essay: 70 many years right after the second planet war ended, there are even now above six,000 defensive structures along Britain’s coastline. Photographer Richard Brine has been documenting them .
The series, entitled Defensive Structures in the British Landscape, depicts the discipline defences put in among 1940 and 1941 when the country was on the brink of invasion by Germany. They have been popularly recognized as pillboxes, simply because of their cylindrical and hexagonal shapes.
“To describe how these curious structures sit in the landscape has usually been my intent, but in performing so I desired to convey a sense of spot, and capture the environment of their surroundings,” explained Brine, who is presently exhibiting the images in an exhibition at London’s Architectural Association.
This essay, written by Dominic Bradbury to accompany the exhibition, tells the story behind the tiny however resilient buildings.
Our countryside and coastline are populated with an enigmatic and eccentric assortment of buildings that are now virtually 75 many years previous. Partly forgotten and typically ignored, the previous pillboxes and defensive emplacements developed across Britain in 1940 and 1941 signify and record an extraordinary achievement.
In the room of just a brief quantity of months thousands of these buildings had been developed across the country in a desperate try to prepare for the extremely genuine risk of German invasion.
A Directorate of Fortifications and Functions drew up a assortment of pillbox patterns that could be developed rapidly and simply proper across the nation. These patterns were ingenious and practical, but also possessed a sculptural sense of abstraction.
The reality that thousands even now survive points to how properly they had been made and how robust was their development
The fact that 1000’s nevertheless survive right across Britain factors to how well they have been made and how robust was their building. Nevertheless there was also a degree of localism and amateurism to numerous of these buildings, with the character of these buildings shaped by regional materials and the skills of regional soldiers, labourers and volunteers to turn the designs into challenging actuality.
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Some were created with brick and some have been woven into the fabric of current buildings. Most had been manufactured with reinforced concrete according to a pattern book laid down by the Directorate, but even the combine of concrete varied depending on the availability of sand, cement and shingle. This gave variation to the visual appeal of pillboxes, although they had been also shaped by context and the land itself, with some standing out in the landscape as apparent sentinels and others partly submerged within fields or cliffs.
The sheer scale of the enterprise was staggering, with around 28,000 separate structures created across the countryside with above 6,000 nonetheless remaining. Most are neglected and many are crumbling, however they continue to be a distinct and widespread presence across the British landscape.
They are buildings that we stumble upon on cliff tops and beaches, brought down by coastal erosion but nevertheless surviving the onslaught of the waves for decades at a time. Other people crop up in surprising and unexpected locations, the place the line of defence appears unclear or baffled to us now. Nevertheless at the time they represented strategic thinking turned to actuality upon potential battlefields.
The nation itself became a fortress and the pillboxes and embrasures were our initial line of defence
These days, these buildings are resonant and complete of that means. They are sculptural and engaging in themselves and carry the poignancy of relics and lost structures. They grow to be all the much more dramatic when they sit inside wild, exposed and untamed rural panoramas.
But they are also emblematic of a desperate enterprise that connects with what we occasionally phone Britain’s finest hour – a time when the nation struggled to come collectively to stave off the risk of defeat, aided by its island geography. The nation itself became a fortress and the pillboxes and embrasures had been our initial line of defence.
These tiny, obscure buildings have a poetic relevance, combining and encapsulating a lot of themes that nevertheless have the power to arrest and engage us. They are poignant reminders of many facets of our personal identity and national character and their increasingly vulnerability, right after so several years of ‘service’, lends them a specific pathos.
Nature is undertaking her greatest to reclaim these buildings at last, with their concrete shells juxtaposed with swallowing sand and choking bushes, vines and undergrowth. They serve, then, as metaphors of the two victory and gradual decline at one and the exact same time.
They are poignant reminders of numerous factors of our very own identity and national character
Offered their historical past and depth of meaning, it is no wonder that these odd, seductive structures captured the focus of architectural photographer Richard Brine.
However Brine has not sought to simply catalogue or document these buildings out of a sense of historical duty. There is a richer objective to Brine’s pictures, which aim to encapsulate some of the wider themes that these buildings suggest.
Brine concentrates on the location of these buildings inside vivid and potent landscapes and their specific resonance within a extremely distinct local context – whether or not on the Norfolk coast or the Oxfordshire countryside.
In carrying out so, Brine uncovers individual stories that deliver together elements of architecture, arranging and neighborhood endeavour. These stories develop into a striking collection of engaging photos that coalesce into a considerably larger and considered provoking narrative.