In 2002 Futurecity developed a comprehensive public art and placemaking strategy for Grosvenor Waterside a residential development in the City of Westminster. One of the main recommendations was for an artwork embedded into the façade of Bramah House. Named after the Georgian inventor, Joseph Bramah, it was an original and bold design by architects Make appointed in 2004 to design this building for the eastern side of Grosvenor Waterside.
Make had originally envisaged cladding the building in anodised aluminium, with a champagne tone that picked up on the metallic roof of the water pumping station, the local London brick and the aspirational colour of Chelsea. But the architects also wanted to ‘lift’ the aluminium through texturing to avoid it looking dark and solid in dull weather.
They identified a need to texture the cladding so that it captured and reflected light; in a ground-breaking collaboration between curators Futurecity, artist Clare Wood and architects MAKE, the vast anodised aluminium cladding of Bramah House and Woods House became a giant canvas for an artwork which would completely cover the sides of the 2 residential blocks.
Artist Clare Woods took hundreds of photographs of the old dock, railway and trees around the site and referenced the original line of Lime trees, which bordered the historic dock edge. She provided drawings proposing an abstracted shadow image of the trees and the old pumping station chimney. Transferring the artwork to the building was a complex and challenging process, using a computer programme, the designs were etched onto the aluminium cladding, panel by panel, before being hung on the building structure. The result is an evocative and atmospheric artwork that appears to be in constant movement as the light shifts around the buildings.
To soften the hard metal, geometry of the building, Make asked the artist to look at ideas for the balconies. Clare researched the decorative work of the Arts and Crafts movement around Chelsea and architect and designer Charles Voysey. Inspired by Georgian architecture she provided drawings for organic-style metal balustrades, which were then machine cut. They were topped with chunky timber handrails, sourced by Fraser from a forester in Cornwall.