So, the second part of this brief involves upcycling – basically, we take an aspect of the den we make (and it could be anything, from the shape, a colour, any material used, even our feeling towards it) and turn it into a self-lead project that reflects whatever we want, from our interests to our identity. Fun stuff! I get to take a brief that I, at first, hated and had no idea how to progress with, and make it into something that I have a deeper connection and understanding of.

Research posts coming up!


The Anderson Shelter

An Anderson Shelter was a shelter normally found at the bottom of a garden during the Second World War, there to protect civilians during an air raid. They were mainly underground and made of corrugated iron, with earth piled up over the roof. For the poor, they were free, but those who earned over a certain amount per week had to pay for one. The insides were normally stocked with supplies and somewhere relatively comfortable to sit/sleep, just in case you had to be inside one for a while!

What I like about the Anderson Shelter is the slight contrast between the outside and the inside – while it looks so crude and basic, with cheap iron as its structure, the inside is really quaint and they were made to be as homely as possible, likely as means to comfort the person/family that had to stay within one of these shelters for hours. Appearances are almost deceptive; it’s shown me that, despite how messy and “dirty” the outside of a den or shelter seems, the inside can be very clean and comfortable.

Urban Shelters

Alright, given that the den building brief requires recycled items and to be built in about two or three days, there’s no way I could ever come up with a design inspired by urban shelters – unlike the ones in the woodlands, these are perfectly designed with aesthetics almost at the forefront. It’s all about shapes, lines, colours, and they all seem pretty sleek and very modern; almost the complete opposite of the woodland dens, which were very rough and seemed more material-orientated, using nature and keeping everything organic.

I have a tendency to like clean designs, so I do find myself more drawn to these urban shelters.

The shelter above is one I find extremely interesting. Not only has the appearance been well thought out, but it is designed to withstand earthquakes – I love how something so fascinating in its look also has such a useful function. It looks conceptual, but it serves a purpose too.

Shelters in the woods

I thought it would be a good idea to have a look at three different types of shelters – woodland shelters, urban shelters and shelters during World War 2. Just having a general look through of these will give me a better understanding of different types of shelters and how the surrounding environments can have influence on the structures; for instance, the amount of space you can use or the materials.

First up are shelters in the woods, or shelters in the country! These are very organic structures, making use of everything that grows in the woodlands and make me think of the type of dens that children would make – picking things up that are just lying around and making a “building” from it.

I like how they seem to be camouflaged and blended in with their environment. These people are using branches, leaves and rocks, not bringing man-made products in to build the dens.


Despite how crude some of them seem to be, they possess a charm to them; I think it stems from the fact that some of these dens weren’t planned out. They were just made on the spot with no forethought for structure or design.


Amazing Spaces

OK, so I’ve been keeping an eye on a programme on Channel 4 called “George Clarke’s Amazing Spaces” – got to be honest, it’s not normally the sort of thing I watch, but I thought it was relevant to this project…to some degree. Instead of shelters, the programme focuses on people who have taken spaces and buildings that one wouldn’t normally consider as “living space” and making it just that, turning storage containers and old underground toilets into cosy homes. It’s all about design and utilising a space and materials that are already there, much like I will have to do in my own structure. And, admittedly, the rustic and quirky designs of these houses are beginning to rub off on me. It’s rather ingenious and inspirational stuff, so here’s a link to the official webpage for Amazing Spaces:



Gareth Griffiths’ Shelter Project

Another artist I was told to research who also exhibited at the Mostyn gallery, Llandudno, was Gareth Griffiths. What started off as a series of small and quick maquettes for his paintings quickly became its very own body of work, with an area full of these maquettes made from everyday objects and used items – books, cardboard, envelopes, etc. He began to put them together, then asked his sons – who are also artists – to contribute with their own maquettes; this invitation was then extended to other fellow artists until it became one large project!

This series of little shelters is just so simple, I was quite amazed when I began to do this research – to think that an upturned book could make for a good shelter maquette is a nice surprise to me! With this project, I was asked to make my own maquettes and, I’ll be honest, I was somewhat stuck on how to go about making them; the only time I’d ever had to make such things was during ceramics class, and these maquettes had to be somewhat intricate, using blocks of wood and wire to create the basic shape of my initial sculpture idea. So, I began to over-think when it came to doing it for the den, imagining I had to make a tiny tent out of fabric or a structure out of toothpicks. While Gareth Griffiths hasn’t directly inspired me in my quest for den ideas, he has shown me that maquettes can be as simple as taking a label off a tin can and placing it on its side!

Hundertwasser’s Drawing

As I said before, I’m not very keen on Hundertwasser’s art as much as I am on the architecture, but I do think it’s important to make a mention of the drawings. A lot of the work that I’ve seen through my research involves buildings, houses and cityscapes in some way or other, as whimsy and unconventional as the physical structures he made. It seems buildings were important to him and his philosophy of not conforming and breaking away from the monotony that so many of the population fall into. Before, in my last post, I made a mention that I found his art to be very childish – but, I guess, in a way, that’s the beauty and quality of his creativity? To keep that childlike view of the world, to see it as something that should be played with and made colourful; and, as I think about it, I realise that perhaps this is an element that needs to be addressed with this den project!