The Exbury Egg Shortlisted for RICS Award Innovation Through Design

We are delighted to announce that The Exbury Egg has been shortlisted for the 2015 RICS: Design Through Innovation Award.

RICS (Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors) Awards 2015

There are eight categories to enter, each demonstrating how property professionals use their skills to develop, regenerate and conserve the environment in which they live and work. If you think your project could be a winner then send us your entry.

The judges will select regional award winners for each of the eight categories, which will be announced at a prestigious awards ceremony which will be held in all 12 UK Regions across April and May 2015.

The winners of the Building Conservation, Community Benefit, Design through Innovation, Infrastructure and Regeneration categories will be entered into the national RICS Awards Grand Final, to be held at The Savoy, London in October 2015. These regional entries will then compete to be the overall category winner and for the ultimate accolade – Project of the Year.

About The Exbury Egg

Special characteristics and sustainable design elements of the site/materials used in the project:

  • The Egg’s floating structure is built entirely from timber (the internal shell and interior are re-claimed).
  • The Egg was built by a local boat-builder using traditional methods but to create an innovative structure.
  • All the materials have been sourced within a 20mile radius (including charcoal stove which was handmade locally).
  • The Egg is Grid free and carbon neutral. It sits within a SSSI (Site of Special Scientific Interest), and we have had to seek special permission from Natural England to site the Egg within the New Forest National Park.
  • The Egg has been the focus of a huge education programme involving hundreds of children and students as young as 5 who have visited during construction, attended the launch, talks, competitions and workshops.
  • People could engage with the work of the Egg and its artist throughout the year in text, images and video via a blog, webcams.

The idea for The Egg originated five years ago when SPUD brought together teams of local aartists, architects and engineers to explore the possibility of collaborating to design a high quality, low environmental impact structure to house an artist for a year in the New Forest National Park. One team was selected to take their idea forward and The Egg was hatched.

 A key aim of the project was also to demonstrate how the arts can engage with environmental issues to generate new perspectives and how collaborative working across a range of disciplines can facilitate this. The artist and architect, Stephen Turner with PAD studio, challenged traditional notions of architecture and shelter.

Turner works with natural processes in remote, sometimes derelict, often dangerous, but always intriguing landscapes. He was keen to make a close study of an area of the New Forest coastline and the littoral - the elusive watery edge of the river between high and low water. The Exbury shoreline is an area of historic salt marshes and a triple SSI; its sinuous embankments were man-made in the 18th century, sluiced with ditches to retain tidal seawater and allow it to evaporate so that the salt could be collected. It is a marshland which is under constant threat from global warming and erosion.

The design of the Egg and its resulting activity was born of its place. Architect and artist explored the coast together and identified a small inlet near Exbury as an interesting and unique location; the owner was approached and immediately responded to the idea; he remains a committed and enthusiastic supporter of the project. The Egg has brought the local community together and raised awareness and understanding of the unique location in which it is sited.

The Egg was designed to be a marker of the natural elements and will be eroded and marked by wind and tides. Inspired by the estuary and its ecology, Turner has been developing the Egg into one of his artworks through the course of the residency, a full 365 day period. By the end of the project, the Egg has become part of a sculptural installation of the artist’s work and will be shown in galleries across the country.

The Egg was designed to take on the patina of 730 daily tides below the water line, and 365 days of weathering by wind, rain and bleaching by the sun. The light touch and basic nature of the design aims to re-appraise the way we live; to properly consider sustainably and future use of natural resources. It was our intent to create a minimal impact live/work floating structure; using materials with a low embodied energy sourced from within a twenty mile radius, and crafted by local boat builder Paul Baker using centuries old techniques. The structure is entirely constructed from timber: Ribs were cut from plywood to create two half shells; Stringers formed from Douglas fir (grown locally and used for centuries in the New Forest in ship building); Cladding made from thin Cedar strips formed the complex curved shell. Stephen Payne, an award winning ship designer, worked with the team in developing the buoyancy of the structure. Water is used for ballast which is contained below the recycled floor boards in re-used plastic containers – an additional 1.5 tonnes was added to ensure that the buoyant structure remained sufficiently below the water-line.

PAD studio wanted to test the minimum someone needs to live quite comfortably, and how to minimise the impact of a small dwelling upon the environment, by reducing requirements, reducing energy input and using local sourcing and re-cycled materials. The interior of the Egg is subdivided like a boat into wet – a wash-space with wc, pull out shower hose and wet locker; and dry living-spaces. 2 curved roof lights are included, one in the living area and one small in the washroom. Two access hatches enable the Egg to be accessed from either side – one to the temporary floating gangway, linking (but not attached) to land and one to a boarding ladder for access to the small tender used to gain access to the land and move around the river.

A dedicated galley cook-space houses small 2 burner meth’s cooker with wash-up basin; storage; batteries and electrical switch panel. A work-space in the form of a recycled plywood desk houses computer and art materials, and the live-space accommodates a large bean bag below the roof-light with transforms into a sleep-space at night when the artist hangs up his handmade English hammock. Incorporated into the living area is a locally made charcoal burning stove for heating (the artist has already made some charcoal from washed up Spartina grass which grows along the river bank). Lighting is low energy LED fittings and all electrical items are charged from portable photovoltaic panels, donated by Annesco. Potable drinking water is brought to the Egg from a nearby stand-pipe in collapsible storage tanks, and river water is used for general domestic purposes. All black-water waste is taken to land for disposal in a nearby septic tank (located in an adjacent field).

The scheme was not only received by the local community but also an international audience that continues to grow. It has been showcased on websites across the world. Although the project is of a temporary nature the team believe that its qualities have and will continue to inspire generations of people. It has engaged and inspired children and people of all ages from varying cultures and brought their awareness to Art, Architecture and the delicacy of the environment.

The Egg project has led to a resurgence of interest in the relationship between the Arts and Architecture, which has been a catalyst for the next SPUD project ( which comprises two rotating artist studio spaces clad in burnt timber which will travel around the South Coast and host a series of artists in residence. This project has been the recipient of an Arts Council grant and major sponsorship from a British Timber Company.

There is no doubt that the innovative design of the Egg structure has enhanced the lives (and perhaps even inspired creativity) of many people and will have a lasting legacy far beyond what was ever imagined.