• David Haley


We believe that the cultural landscape is largely formed by the dominant cultures of a place. “It is formed by a sometimes conflicted, sometimes consensual discourse or narrative from an array of stories, observations and intentions, first spoken by people of these dominant cultures and thereafter enacted on the ground. To our view, such a story has certain fluidity about it, and may change directions for any number of reasons. This work, Greenhouse Britain, is designed literally to express what the risingof waters would mean to the landscape of the island. It takes the 3 positions of defense, withdrawal and then defense, withdrawal to the high grounds.

We suggest that the existing plans for greenhouse emissions control will be insufficient to keep temperature rise at 2° or less. In fact, we believe that the tipping point is past. In this context, the rising ocean becomes a form determinant. By “form determinant”, we mean, the rising ocean will determine many of the new forms that culture, industry and many other elements of civilization will have to take. There is another piece of this picture that we wish to give Voice to. That is up until this present rising of the world oceans, the creators of Western civilization have held and enacted the belief that all limitations in the physical world, particularly in the ecological world are there to be used and overcome. We think that the rising ocean is an opportunity for transformation, but it is exactly the reverse of a new frontier to overcome from civilization’s perspective. Now, from the ocean’s perspective, its boundary is perhaps a continuing, evolving transforming new frontier. Therefore, assuming a rapid rise of waters, even for a modest 5 meters in 100 years, there are apparently no models of precedence, no information, design, nor planning on the table, with the exception of ocean defenses and typical development models, albeit more energy efficient ones.

It is the intention of this exhibition to begin generating the thinking, the design, perhaps the new belief structure, perhaps even indicating new economic structures that may be required for the democratic dispersal of support for an upward-moving population within the context of a gradually shrinking landmass.

We as strangers believe that Britain is at the intersection of 3 histories. There is the history of empire, its beginnings, its growth, its high point at the Industrial Revolution and its contraction from the 1930s to the 1970s to its present consensual relationship to so many of its former, now independent, colonies. While, part-by-part, we imagine this contraction can be seen as stressful, seen as a continuum, we as strangers perceive this withdrawal, this re-forming of self, as it were, as graceful. It is in this sense that we believe that deeply imbedded in the zeitgeist of the country is the knowledge or understanding of how to yield terrain.

The second history is imbedded in the astonishing, for us, national response to the threat of invasion by the Nazis. We both remember, as children, the news stories and Churchill’s speeches on the radio, which did, in fact, unify and mobilize the country (and to some degree, our country as well). We see a partial metaphor here. We do not see the world oceans as attacking the isle of Britain, but we do see the need for the country to mobilize with the same integrity, vitality, cooperation, depth of purpose and “all-in-it-togetherness” that typified the war years and the reconstruction thereafter. We note that this insight has been recently expressed by others.

The third history that we see is one that this proposed work of art seeks to co-join with. It is the new history that is coming into being in a 30-year to 100-year Now with a growing understanding of the urgency imbedded in this 30-year moment.




Com citar

Haley, David. 2008. “GREENHOUSE BRITAIN”. on the w@terfront. Public Art.Urban Design.Civic Participation.Urban Regeneration, no. 11 (October):39-52.