Even somewhere as inauspicious as the Beckton Alp, a toxic 19th century spoil heap, is redolent with value for the people who use it.

Despite the only way in being a hole illegally made in the fence, the alp is a vibrant social space used by a diverse range of people for the kinds of adventure we just don’t have anymore.

During three months residency in a portacabin at the base of the alp we observed and documented use and evidence of use, both human and otherwise.

In 50 days of actual presence on site, over 300 people were observed.

The paradox of this “bad” landscape as also a place of the sublime and of adventure was tested during the residency by hosting social encounters. One of these encounters was an invitation to lunch below the summit extended to the scaffolders from the yard at the base of the alp. Both tested scenarios and observed use formed a brief to return the alp as a fully accessible, social, bioremediated landscape, but one that retains the intrinsic qualities that make it so beguiling.

The concept for bioremediation is to treat the surface rainwater as both a source of pleasure and potential poison and by making visible a treatment system so reference the hidden marsh landscape now sealed away beneath the surface. 

The design will separate the surface water from the leachate, rills and pools with reed beds as green sponges will cleanse the less toxic surface run off, and will keep it as far as possible from penetrating the reinstated clay capping.  

That water which does penetrate the cap will percolate through the toxins and as leachate will be collected at the base in an enclosed chamber, the “bad” water will be pumped up using renewable energy to be let down again through an enclosed serial system to filter out the toxins.   

The proposal is for a hybrid landscape of remediation and the sublime, for adventure and for the knowledge of risk.  The form this landscape may take is evidenced through the natural and cultural history collection of the alp. This collection is based the Enlightenment tradition of knowledge through observation and comprises of artifacts and “specimens” entirely constructed from material found on site. The Collection is cultural evidence of the value of the intrinsic paradox of the alp.

The collection was made in collaboration with local individuals and organizations, the Beckon adult education art class made landscape paintings, the director of the local undertakers narrated a roll call of loss, the Over 50s book club donated memories and a botanical illustrator made drawings of constructed species.

Date: Tuesday 19.02.08
Time: 09.00-17.20
Weather: Overcast, misty, cold.  Sun attempts to break out from 10.50.  Sunny from 12.00
Collected and documented rubbish accumulated 
on summit since Friday.  Clear and collect 12 bags of rubbish from area around wooden platform, and sort.
Rubbish inventory from viewing platform:
21 x assorted plastic coca cola bottles
10 x plastic energy drink bottles
15 x assorted plastic fizzy drink bottles
12 x plastic water bottles
1 x unidentifiable green carton
4 x fruit juice cartons
9 x plastic cider bottles
37 x cigarette packets (18 illegal)
1 x blondie cd case (free with the daily star)
1 x 2Gb memory stick
37 x assorted bottle tops/caps
1 x 50ml pub measure
1 x lighter
5 x socks
1 x glove
1 x leggings
1 x jumper
1 x skipping rope
1 x samsung phone battery
2 x spoons
19 x forks
4 x drug bags
1 x homemade bong
8 x complete plastic beer holders
5 x red pieces of wire
2 x blue pieces of wire
2 x white pieces of wire
1 x green piece of wire
3 x o'keefe construction delivery notes
3 x durex wrappers
1 x metropolitan police safer neighbourhoods badge
Tools used:
Samples to laboratory: 
1 x memory stick
1 x corroded pen knife
melted plastic
1 x glove
2 x job description printouts from job centre for two different types of soldiering
3 x o'keefe construction delivery notes to Beckton snow world
1 x tin of snails
1 x blondie cd sleeve
37 x assorted bottle tops/caps
1 x 50ml pub measure
1 x metropolitan police safer neighbourhood badge
Human occupation off alp site:
none noted
Human occupation on alp site:
12.40 boy and girl at summit
12.50 late 20's male at summit, hands on hips, lo
oking over towards West Ham
13.00 two boys and one girl at summit walk down towards wooden platform, spread out blanket and stay until 14.30 
14.20 group of about 11-12 boys and girls at summit
14.45 two girls still 
at summit exit via south-west
14.50 two boys chased by two others begin to ascend from west, see they are being observed and turn back.  Th
e second pair enter through the wooden platform, one has arm bandaged, walk to summit, engaged in conversation, they descend to amphitheatre
16.40 two girls appear from the north face, crouch down to 
pick something up from ground.  One girl holds up the object for the other to photograph.  Leave at 17.00 via platform.
16.55 two bo
ys and two girls (14/15 yrs old) walk across summit to exit via viewing platform, stop on path for chat and look out towards West Ham
17.20 group of three teenagers at viewing pla
tform,  look like a group of bats.
Non human occupation on site: 
large fox crossing from corner of scaffold yard near bridge towards Alp, returns and runs
 back towards greenway
various tits in brambles at north east lower slopes
2 x magpies
Ambient sounds: 
same as those recorded before
children shouting
Ambient smells: 
13.00 sewage
ask the two boys from 14.20 if they know Kingsford Community school and can identify it, they point out th
e location, "yeah, we go there", confirm that they know K_____ U_____, whose memory stick was previou
sly found on the alp and that they would let him know that it will be in the portacabin.  They deny that they had been chasing the tow other boys and claim it is their first visit.
Occupation images:
Inventory images:
Found project on K____ U____ memory stick on monobrows:

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