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The inspiration behind ‘BE, Well’

The inspiration behind ‘BE, Well’ at Clerkenwell Design Week

We recently spent four days at Clerkenwell Design Week, showcasing the aesthetic beauty and sustainable benefits of galvanized steel, with the ‘BE, Well’ installation in St. John’s Square. The 9 x 3 x 4m pavilion shaped structure was built as part of a collaborative project between partners Haines Watts (who sponsored the project), WR-AP ArchitectureJohn Cullen LightingLionweld KennedyBerry Systems, and Joseph Ash Galvanizing. The event was a great success, with many people stopping by to interact with the installation and leave their ‘thought of the day’ in the well. In a week forecast for rain, we were also amazingly lucky with the weather. The sun shone all week, the steel glistened, and visitors to the event were able to enjoy all the Clerkenwell designs, inside and out, at their very best.

As we’ve now come to the close of such an amazing project, we thought we’d share some of the thoughts behind the installation from Sean Weston and Max Rengifo at WRAP Architecture, the architects leading the project.

Why were you attracted to the project?  

As an emerging architecture practice, we were excited to participate in Clerkenwell Design Week – such a renowned international design festival – and be given free reign on the design content by our sponsoring partners Haines Watts. Also, many of the installations at Clerkenwell Design Week in previous years had focused on the craftsmanship synonymous with the area. With our design we felt it was an interesting opportunity to focus on a more finite aspect of design and to work with one specific material – galvanised steel – to showcase its potential to the design world and to allow an alternative type of craftsmanship to be featured.

In a few words, can you describe the installation and its defining features?  

The ‘BE, Well’ pavilion is an investigation into the design potential of galvanised steel. In an age where sustainability is on the agenda of all design disciplines ‘BE, Well’ showcased the whole life longevity and potential beauty embodied in the galvanising process. The pavilion took visitors on a journey from utilitarian building products through to bespoke architectural elements, all showcasing the detailed beauty of galvanising.

As Clerkenwell Design Week was celebrating its 10th anniversary, the pavilion featured a galvanised steel well as its centerpiece. We felt this was important as it would remind visitors that Clerkenwell originally had a well (hence the name!). The well within our installation acted as a place where visitors were asked to comment on the design industry, or simply leave their ‘thought for the day’.

What were your biggest challenges during the project?  

The biggest challenge we wanted to overcome was to ensure that a material – galvanised steel – that is usually used in either a utilitarian or industrial manner could be showcased with finesse and elegant detailing to promote its innate aesthetic properties. We believe we achieved this with the ‘BE, Well’ installation.

What is the meaning behind thepavilion’sname ‘BE, Well’? 

The ‘BE, Well’ name represented all the good things that the pavilion characterised: the protection and long-life expectancy that galvanising provides to steel; and a new physical well for Clerkenwell to attract positive thoughts about the design industry, Clerkenwell Design Week, or simply good ‘thoughts for the day’.

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Partnership roles

Haines Watts London, a top UK accounting firm, is sponsored the project. With decades long experience of working with some of the UK’s most prestigious architecture firms, they wanted to share their support for the architecture industry by sponsoring an up-and-coming young architecture practice to design the installation.

They chose WR-AP Architecture as the designers, a young London-based practice set up by Sean Weston and Max Rengifo in 2018, which specialises in creating beautiful buildings with delightful, memorable and enjoyable experiences for their clients and the environment.

As the installation was made from steel, Joseph Ash Galvanizing protected the metal using a batch hot dip galvanizing process from one of our plants.

Joseph Ash Galvanizing is part of Hill & Smith Holdings PLC. Two other companies within the Hill & Smith group – Berry Systems and Lionweld Kennedy – also made up the partnership. Berry Systems fabricated the steel, and Lionweld Kennedy fabricated the mesh grating.

The final company in the collaboration was John Cullen Lighting, the award-winning lighting specialist, who enhanced the installation with a variety of stunning lighting techniques.

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