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: Thursday 10.04.08
Time: 09.15-16.35
Weather: sunny spells, warm but blustery, intermittent showers
debrief and project review
laid out rubbish collected from the north base of alp, under the footbridge on 02.04.08 on the greenway.
Inventory as follows:
58 x lager cans
26 x assorted soft drink cans
6 x energy drink cans
13 x asda smart price food cans
1 x de-icer can
1 x deodorant can
1 x paint can
9 x glass beer bottles
2 x glass alcopop bottles
1 x glass wine bottle (broken)
1 x glass coca-cola bottle
1 x glass milk bottle
4 x plastic cider bottles
8 x assorted soft drink plastic bottles
2 x energy drink plastic bottle
11 x water bottles
7 x milk drink plastic bottles
2 x cleaning product plastic bottles
33 x cups
6 x assorted cigarette packets
2 x empty cement bags
1 x plastic jerry can
1 x mixing bucket
1 x empty grout tub
1 x empty flexible filler tube
1 x wellington boot
1 x hard hat
3 x gloves
3 x trousers
1 x sweatshirt
5 x "the private collection" pornographic subscription
1 x perverted stories number 24 DVD
4 x broken pieces of signage
1 x paintbrush
1 x toothbrush
1 x washbag
1 x body spray
1 x tablet packet
1 x christmas wreath remnants
1 x tube tin foil
3 x assorted plastic tubes
1 x toy car
1 x puncture repair kit
1 x bike light
1 x plastic fork
3 x assorted plastic pieces
1 x burnt sketch book
1 x broken camera
1 x mini dv tape strip
1 x abdominal trainer machine section
1 x half piece of duvet
1 x carpet square
1 x window frame
1 x bin lid
Tools used:
bin bags
Samples to laboratory: 
1 x pot of blue matter
2 x "the private collection" pornographic subscription 
1 x perverted stories number 24 DVD
1 x ian drury and the blockheads CD live (by south base) track listing as follows:
01 hit me with your rhythm stick.m4a
02 what a waste.m4a
03 reasons to be cheerful part 3.m4a
04 clever trevor.m4a
05 billericay dickie.m4a
06 sweet gene vincent.m4a
07 wake up and make love ith me.m4a
08 k3-smoking alon.m4a
09 hoxton oaf-jasmine.m4a
10 finger snip-110.m4a
11 gasoline- church.m4a
12 sister beck- desperation.m4a
13 lola- mother of god.m4a
14 the voodoos-sanctify.m4a
15 sancake- ghost of you.m4a
Human occupation off alp site:
12.45 jake the dog and owner from 06.03.08 walking from east to west along the greenway, engage in conversation "why are  you collecting rubbish, they'll only put it all back in". I ask if they walk here often, and he says every day, but not going up the alp today as jake has worn him out, say goodbye and carry on.
13.35 cyclist travelling from west to east along greenway
13.40 a group of fourteen schoolchildren and their teacher cycle in high-vis vests from west to east
13.40 young man who photographed us on 02.04.08 walking from west to east along greenway, recognises me and asks "how's the project going", promise to send him photograph taken of him and his friend
13.50 boy from scaffolding yard and older man walk past holding two scaffolding planks, walk west along the greenway chatting to each other. they say hello.
13.55 same cyclist observed at 13.35 cycling from east to west along greenway
14.00 boy from scaffolding yard walks from west back towards yard with a bag of fizzy drinks "he wanted to buy us all something to say thanks for carrying the two planks home". He reminds us to give him a shout later when we need a hand.
14.55 tiger the dog and owner on footbridge to the north of alp.
15.10 same boy observed at 13.40 and 02.04.08 walks across footbridge to walk up to the alp summit. offers assistance, which is accepted however he is not really dressed for pulling a rubbish bin out of woodland, he stays for about ten minutes and then carries on.
Human occupation on alp site:
14.20 a solitary man (early 30's) at summit looking eastwards, is still present when we depart at 14.45
14.25 a father and two children (one teenage girl, one younger boy) enter the alp via the viewing platform and walk towards the summit, they engage with the solitary man at the summit, pointing out various sites and landmarks
14.35 a solitary male cycles across summit to exit via viewing platform, behind the family observed at 14.25
15.30 three girls at summit
15.50 a solitary male with his bicycle at the summit
Non human occupation on site: 
2 x butterflies at north base on abandoned wooden steps
4 x magpies 
Ambient sounds: 
fork lift truck from scaffolding yard
scaffold clattering
Ambient smells: 
very strong sewage from greenway
contact council to report flytipping and arrange collection of all rubbish we have collected, try to remove an industrial metal rubbish bin out of the woodland to the north of alp, enter neighbouring scaffolding yard and ask some of the workers for some help, one obliges but we are unable to lift it
we return later with a saw to remove some branches and empty the bin, when a man approaches with his dog, tiger. "what you need is a good saw", we know but we don't have one, to which he replies "would you like to borrow mine" and pulls one out of his backpack. tiger is walked for miles every day,as he is a rescue dog who was never taken out of the house, and they take lunch and a gas stove to prepare lunch wherever they may be, thus the serrated saw/knife for sausages and black puddings en-route. 
observe samples left by den area, statue has been smashed to pieces, search for a piece of the face or something recognisable unsuccessfully. 
Occupation images:
Inventory images:
Samples to laboratory images:
none taken
Found audio:

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