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 02.04.08
Time: 09.05-17.50
Weather: overcast, intermittent showers and sunny spells
collect rubbish from west face and base of the north face under bridge. 
clear newly collected rubbish from summit that has accumulated since previous collection.
layout rubbish from the west face for documenting and complete inventory as follows:
243 x lager cans
25 x cider cans
1 x bitter can
1 x alcopop can
10 x energy drink cans
20 x fizzy drink cans
1 x paint can
14 x assorted fizzy drink bottles
15 x assorted water plastic bottles
5 x energy drink plastic bottles
2 x glass wine bottles
15 x glass beer bottles
2 x glass soft drink bottles
1 x  glass whisky bottle
2 x broken glass bottle necks
11 x orange juice cartons
9 x plastic cups
1 x broken plastic forks
18 x cigarette packets
5 x cigarette lighters
11 x firework remains
20 x assorted bottle tops
3 x corks
1 x knife
1 x pen
1 x battery
1 x shell
7 x bags of rubbish removed from site.
Tools used:
none recorded
Samples to laboratory: 
1 x shell
20 x assorted bottle tops
1 x knife
1 x minnie mouse doll in kimono
Human occupation off alp site:
10.05 same incredibly fashionable out of place man observed previously walking across the pavement to south of alp and down the road to the east into the industrial park.
Human occupation on alp site:
10.30 solitary male at summit
11.30 three boys in school uniform jumping and lurking under viewing platform
14.20 two girls, late teens at summit, not doing much
15.00 three teenage boys approach from the south and appear next to concrete plateau where we are carrying out inventory, they hesitate and I usher them forward.  one is boy from 19th february from kingsford school, he asks if we found k____ u_____ to return memory stick, i said we did and they carry on to the top
15.10 two girls pop up to walk via concrete plateau, see us and veer off to walk up the north path to the summit
15.30 boy from 15.00 comes back to ask if they will get in to trouble being there, he is not sure if they are allowed to be there, to which I say I am not sure if any of us are supposed to be there.  there shouldn't be any problem as long as you don't do anything wrong we continue.  he says thankyou and carries on.
16.oo three boys, late teens, enter via viewing platform, one walks to top and surveys whilst the other survey around the viewing platform.  they then disappear and reappear five minutes later with mountain bikes. process to the summit and blast down the path towards the platform three times, notice me taking their photograph and then exit hastily
16.45 two males, early  twenties at summit laughing and talking, watching us laying out rubbish, I ask to photograph to which they oblige and then they take our photograph in return. 
Non human occupation on site: 
a huge amount of snails
Ambient sounds: 
comedy hgv horn
reverse sound
Ambient smells: 
burning from business park
engage in conversation with the two early twenties males before we leave the site and ask them to bluetooth me the photograph that they took (see above)  they inform me that they had heard about the artists working on the alp and had noticed it was looking "nicer" and cleaner.  seemed genuinely interested in the activity, exchanged email addresses to forward information.
strange mutant like fungi growing at the base of north summit.
Occupation images:
Inventory images:
Samples to laboratory images:
none taken

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