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FIRST LOOK

Ed Crooks draws on unbuilt Lutyens designs for installation at Castle Drogo

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The project by artist and architectural designer Ed Crooks imagines fragments of unrealised proposals for the 20th-century castle in Devon

Commissioned by the National Trust, ‘Holding Up’ depicts the foundations of a huge imagined tower built above the castle, its design based on many of Edwin Lutyens’ unrealised schemes.

Conceived during a six-month working residency, Crooks explored the work of Lutyens at Castle Drogo through the design of the tower, which is exhibited in a series of ink drawings and plaster models. In addition the 1:1 installation, sited in the castle’s library, invites visitors to explore the foundations of the imagined tower. 

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Designer’s view

Making reference to the castle’s complex and contradictory architecture, the installation displays a compressed series of moments where new columns, staircases and walls collide with the library. Asking visitors to imagine the stories behind their existence, it is intended that the work will show the castle itself as the product of fabricated myths, storytelling and theatricality.

Shown within the room, an archive of plaster models, ink drawings and films reveal a series of clues as to how the new tower may appear. Drawing on Lutyens’ technique for testing ideas through vast 1:1 architectural models, the installation is conceived as a theatre set, presenting its back to the entrance and revealing its full form having walked through.

A single fragment of carved granite, developed in collaboration with local stonemason Ben Martin, appears as the moment when this theatrical installation becomes reality. As Castle Drogo enters the final phase of a seven-year restoration programme, the work aims to critically analyse the British approach to conservation, placing value not on built fabric itself, but instead in the spirit of change, adaptation and innovation through which such places become valued.

Ed Crooks

Edwardcrooks castledrogo elevations 2

Edwardcrooks castledrogo elevations 2

Project data

Start on site February 2018
Completion March 2018
Gross internal floor area 6.25m²
Form of contract Bespoke
Construction cost £7,750
Artist/designer Ed Crooks


Client 
National Trust/Trust New Art (with funding from Arts Council England)
Fabrication and installation Design & Making Ltd 
CNC fabrication Grymsdyke Farm
Stonemasonry Ben Martin 
Stone sourcing Blackenstone Quarry
Film Exeter Phoenix, Clara Kraft-Isono 

CAD software used 
Rhino, Vectorworks

Supporters Grymsdyke Farm, Blackenstone Quarry, Exeter Phoenix, Clara Kraft-Isono

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