>C016 Lookout, Canterbury Castle, UK

To Look Out and Look Back, and the Moment of Transition.

A freely accessible lookout for all, delicately placed within Canterbury’s historical castle.

It explores a semi-fictional moment in time shortly after 1066, and the foundation of a motte and bailey castle, or donjon, in the now Dane John Gardens, and prior to the completion of the Norman castle in circa 1086 — a moment of transition between outlook, location, geometry, and material use; a momentary scaffold of sorts before the erection of the castle keep’s great stone walls.

Strategically, the Castle lookout will look-back to its former site and the now Dane John Mound, offering historical insight and greatly enriching Canterbury’s tourism offer. It will allow intrepid visitors to scope the entirety of Canterbury’s cultural assets in one move, significantly adding to the dwell time in the city. And it is seen to be something for all and not just the few — although of course, once reopened, the castle will once again be able to be programmed to better suit Canterbury’s diversity, its residents, and its visitors.

As of now, the Castle sits unloved and in decay. Its setting and character is harmed by the adjacent subway and it’s recent and poorly applied tiling, in supermarket livery. It is closed off at its boundary and impenetrable to those with interest. Heras fencing and warning signs complete the general sense of despair and missed opportunity.

Collectively, the team propose representing the castle as in the landscape. Former accretions will be removed and entrances reopened. By moving the security line to the inner edge of the castle reveals, we allow the sense that this historical relic could be stumbled upon, and up close, amongst the wider fabric of the city. By extending this landscape carpet through the Castle Row car Park to Dane John, we have an opportunity to build excitement, drama, and setting.

At this stage, the lookout will be placed closest to the castle’s western entrance and benefit from the localised loss of adjacent fabric, enabling further reciprocity from inside and outside the castle. We imagine that robust sliding doors, separate to the original fabric, could provide security and allow other programmes to occur whilst still allowing its gardens to be freely and roamed and enjoyed.

We imagine what it might be like on hot days to see water and light, over hewn stone, upwardly reflected against the rough heft of the castle.

Formal and material language are shaped by several factors; formally, we explore the bailey’s circular form, as if transplanted, and sitting within the castle’s orthogonal structure — the circle in the square, and perceived as a scaffold-like forerunner to the stone keep.

Material selection and deployment again continues this notion of transition; if original motte, bailey, and keep are earth and timber, and the subsequent Norman keep is stone, what might an interim position be? Here, a primary timber structure, as delicate scaffold, takes on earthen elements as evolutionary bridge to stone — locally pigmented rammed earth mixed with hemp creating a structure that straddles evolutionary building methods.

This is the healthiest and most sustainable way of building there is; sticks and stone.