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A subterranean sandcastle by Asif Khan among the sand constructions to pop up in London


Nex Architecture

The Museum of Architecture has commissioned a series of 2.5-metre-tall sandcastles by Asif Khan, vPPR and Nex Architecture to be constructed across public spaces in London’s Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea.

Part of inTransit festival and London Festival of Architecture, the concept merges the two event themes: Island Life and Memory. Referencing the traditions of the “great British summer” the designers were asked to “consider the broader histories of leisure and seaside architecture in the UK when creating their proposals”.

Asif Khan has created a subterranean sandcastle showing Chand Baori, a 1200-year-old stepwell in northern India, in cross-section. “A great feat of early thermal engineering,” says Asif Khan studio, “it provided vital water storage in this arid region, in the form of an inner world for bathing and contemplation.” The model, placed outside the Design Museum, aims to reveal “the beauty of its geometry”.

vPPR’s structure is a scaled reconstruction of Aldo Rossi’s Lighthouse Theatre (built 1987), situated on Tavistock Road. Nex Architecture’s sculpture responds to a statue in its location of Duke of York Square, of Sir Hands Sloane. “Over the course of his lifetime he amassed a vast collection of natural specimens,” explains the practice. Inspired by an exploration of his collection of shells, Nex has designed a spiralling tower of sand with “an intricate surface of light and shade”.

The sandcastles will be on display until 25 June.


Asif Khan