Location: Weston-super-Mare, United Kingdom
Completion date: 2022
Director of Marketing and Partnerships
DOSE of Society
DOSE of Society
Empowering Women with Tech
Dr. Amélie Kirchgaessner
British Antarctic Survey
Dr. Ella Gilbert
British Antarctic Survey
Vinita Marwaha Madill
Board Member & Accessibility Consultant
Dr. Amit Patel
Dr. Amit Patel
A retired rig from the North Sea, SEE MONSTER was transformed into one of the UK’s largest public art installations to inspire global conversations about reuse, renewables and the great British weather. As a creation of new from old, the regeneration of the rig championed the role of reuse and creativity within our future.
By the Autumn of 2022, having been transformed along its journey, the weather-beaten monster came alive in The Tropicana, Weston-super-Mare, UK, as a manifestation of all it had witnessed along its journey around the turbulent coast. The reawakened entity was a joyous celebration of the great British weather and British eccentricity, presenting a new vision for what the monster could become. A pioneer towards a greener future, SEE MONSTER explored the concept of inherited structures, be those physical, social, or environmental. What do we do with the structures we inherit? And what actions can they inspire?
As the first decommissioned gas platform in the world to be transformed into a major public art installation, SEE MONSTER attracted a multi-generational audience of half a million, from September to November 2022, and sparked global conversations around industrial structures and the potential they have for reuse.
By transforming a retired rig from the North Sea into a public art installation, we created an opportunity to re-define the potential that these industrial structures have for re-use. We wanted to re-envisage their potential through a creative lens and in order to affectively achieve our vision for the monster, commissioning artists, collaborating across sectors and working with the local community was essential.
The overall design integrated touch points for commissioned designs; the 35-metre-tall structure featured four levels animated by a 10-metre-high waterfall; a slide offering an alternative route through the monster, a kinetic installation forming the monsters’ scales; kinetic wind sculptures; a wild garden of plants and trees; experiments in sustainable energy generation; a seated amphitheatre, and at its base, a broadcast studio.
We worked with the local community during the entire project and through our grass roots ‘Think Tank’ initiative, we invited local opinions and ideas to help form the schedule of events that took place on the platform and around the town. This approach to commissioning artists and local ideas onto the platform helped to embed the project within the local community and authentically bring this beast from the sea to life.
SEE MONSTER was a showcase in cross sector collaboration. To approach the brief set out by the festival, and to meet the design challenges that a project like SEE MONSTER presents, we pulled together a core team made up of individuals from all of the STEAM sectors (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Maths). In doing so, we were able to approach every element of the design, ascertain whether any needs were not being met and respond appropriately.
Having an educational throughline was essential to SEE MONSTER as a world-first project. We wanted to make sure that the project could benefit people of all ages in understanding the potential that these structures have for re-use, whilst spotlighting STEAM subjects. Our core team of scientists, artists, engineers, climate experts & designers ultimately allowed us to realise this ambition in a very tangible way. The platform became a living breathing entity that combined all the STEAM subjects and demonstrated what can be achieved through cross sector collaboration.
Not only was this evident on the physical structure, but also through our dynamic learning programme which offered educational resources for students and teachers based on our narrative themes of re-use, renewable energy and the great British weather.
The legacy and social impact of SEE MONSTER is inherently linked to its design and purpose. We were able to interrupt the waste chain cycle and take this otherwise obsolete piece of industrial architecture and transform it into something completely different; a public art installation to generate conversations around reuse, renewable energy and the great British weather. Originally an inaccessible structure, it was vital that we ensured SEE MONSTER was open and accessible to all. We enlisted the support of an accessibility consultant, Dr Amit Patel, whom we worked with from the early concepting right through to opening. By creating a multitude of access routes to SEE MONSTER, we were able to improve inclusivity and accessibility for diverse global audiences. These routes included a 360-degree virtual tour with audio description and videos, and a downloadable Audio Tour detailing the journey through the structure. From inception to installation this hugely unique project was one of the most challenging, ambitious, and innovative design feats to be undertaken in the UK. A world-first project, SEE MONSTER has sparked global conversations around industrial structures, the potential they have for reuse, and, in turn, created a blueprint for others to follow in the future.