HEAVY METAL RETAINING WALL

Located on the lawn at the Museum of Old and New Art (MONA) in Hobart, the project is a public communication device for the heavy metal contamination problem in the River Derwent and a speculation on the how nature could be deployed in the repair of such significant environmental damage. 

 

A long, thick rammed earth wall representing the sediment of the river holds 5 varying sized apertures that reflect the different concentrations of the main heavy metals that currently pollute the river; Cadmium, Zinc, Lead, Copper and Mercury. Each of the apertures actually incorporate these metals; a lockable black chest containing yellow cadmium glazed tiles, a large central room clad in recycled zinc, a small box wrapped in recycled lead, a threshold lined with copper sheets and a narrow doorway containing a cabinet full of viles of mercury.

 

Conceptually, the structure also acts as a repository for heavy metals extracted from the river. Originally lining the back of the rammed earth wall were a series of thin, prefabricated concrete walls designed to fill up with glass bricks encasing the dried flesh of oysters taken from the Derwent, thus extracting the accumulated heavy metals in their systems from the river.

 

Whilst performing it's conceptual role, the structure creates an armature for social activities on the MONA lawn. Piercing through the wall is a long jetty-like  table made from macracarpa pine, originally shaded with a series of oyster baskets.

Project undertaken with MONA, students from Monash University Department of Architecture and artist Kit Wise.

Photographs by Jonathan Wherrett