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: Wednesday 19.03.08
Time: 09.05-17.30
Weather: very cold, showers on arrival, with bursts of sunshine and wind throughout the day. black clouds and blue sky
work on samples in laboratory.
complete inventory of rubbish collected from viewing platform territory on the 19.02.08. (cans)
inventory as follows:
215 x lager
15 x bitter
40 x cider 
6 x energy drink
23 x soft drink
3 x aerosols
collect rubbish from amphitheatre territory and document:
inventory as follows:
6 x glass bottles (complete) 3 x smashed
28 x assorted plastic bottles
7 x plastic paint bottles
2 x juice cartons
20 x soft drinks cans
5 x energy drink cans
1 x soup can
1 x deicer
1 x french polish
2 x deodorant
4 x spray paint
4 x golf balls
2 x footballs
1 x painters stool top
1 x labelled block of wood (709N)
3 x H shaped metal sections
1 x bmw hubcap
1 x welcome mat
4 x o'keefe construction delivery slips
1 x condom
1 x luggage strap
1 x tshirt
1 x football boots
1 x work glove
3 x bottle tops
1 x plastic bowl
1 x plastic golf pitch and putt target
1 x plastic fork
2 x lighter
1 x bike light
1 x pen
1 x danger batter unstable notice
1 x asda sign
1 x savacentre drinks club sign
3 x fireworks
Tools used:
none recorded
Samples to laboratory: 
1 x headless teddy bear
1 x pair of slippers
2 x patterned sheets of fabric
1 x china doll
2 x footballs
3 x golf balls
4 x o'keefe delivery slips
3 x bottle tops
1 x welcome mat
1 x pair of football boots
1 x labelled blocks of wood
1 x pot of soil from the viewing platform area
Human occupation off alp site:
15.30 solitary male walks along perimeter path from east to west, stops to observe us lifting trolley over fence, walks past, turns around to photograph us with mobile phone to be photographed himself.
Human occupation on alp site:
09.20 solitary male at summit, walks from platform takes in the view and ten leaves promptly.
09.40 runner appears coming down south pathway (katherine)
12.20 two older gentlemen, late 50's, on platform, exit via fence
13.35 boy (16) at top of path to the north east, looks at me looking at him and then exits to the west, behind the summit.
13.45 boy seen at 13.35 settled on north west alcove with younger girl, getting very amorous
15.50 man on path next to viewing platform shouting very loudly in eastern european language on the telephone, continues for about 10 minutes
Non human occupation on site: 
1 x magpies
4 x bumblebees
small white snails not seen anywhere else on alp as yet, in amphitheatre area
rats and mice near tollgate road
Ambient sounds: 
10.30 drilling
ice cream chimes
lots of birdsong
13.45 comedy hgv horn
industrial clanging
Ambient smells: 
remove 14 bags of rubbish from the site.  find a school bag behind north face of summit, about to rummage through it, when the boy observed from 13.35 appears.  hardly any rubbish around the amphitheatre area, a only two alcoholic drinks collected. (could be due to the observed occupation within the territory being significantly younger than anywhere else on site)
floor to the west of amphitheatre is covered with what looks like pearl barley.
Occupation images:
Inventory images (viewing platform):
inventory images (amphitheatre):
Samples to laboratory 

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