The deeds have now closed, and with 91,000 people signed up as beneficial owners of the land any government which had tried to build the runway would have faced a significant legal headache. Among the owners of the one acre plot are Deputy PM Nick Clegg, dozens of MPs, celebrities, local residents and people from around the world concerned about climate change. David Cameron agreed to have a tree planted on the land in his name.
One of the owners of the land is Good Life actor Richard Briers. He said:
"What great news it was when they said they wouldn’t be building their silly runway. Lots of us have been very worried about it, not just because we live in west London but because of the harm it would have done to the environment. There are so many people named on our deed, it’s terribly heavy, but when Mr Cameron and Mr Clegg look through it they’ll see there are more than ninety thousand people who own our lovely little plot of land in the middle of the new runway site. I’m sure they’ll all be very pleased to hear the runway is being officially scrapped."
Greenpeace also revealed today the winner of a high-profile architectural competition to design a fort to be constructed on the plot of land to defend it from the bulldozers if necessary. A panel of judges including Turner prize winner Rachel Whiteread sifted through entries from 67 architects and architectural practices before choosing a design for an intricate tunnel network submerged beneath a purpose-built hill.
Greenpeace had committed to building the fortress and occupying it to peacefully defend the iconic plot if BAA continued to push for the runway. The winning design – by London architects Alastair Parvin and Lukas Barry – is a defendable structure that would be collectively created by the thousands of individuals who opposed the runway plans, each person contributing a sack of earth to build up the fortress. Once built, Greenpeace were planning to keep the design of the tunnel network within the structure a carefully guarded secret.
Other entries included a "Martello hive" – an adventure playground which doubles as an underground complex for activists – and a rubber house made from the thousands of aircraft tyres that are discarded at Heathrow each year.
Pictures of the winning design and other entries can be viewed here: www.greenpeace.org.uk/airplot_winners. (High res versions available from contact number below.)
Commenting on the winning design for a fortress to be built on the land, competition judge Rachel Whiteread OBE said:
"Essentially this is a defensive and very proactive design, but it’s also a quietly poetic one too. It’s a simple hill – almost like a burial mound which is something we’ve seen traditionally across England and worldwide. It will be built using these earth bags – which people can even bring from their gardens – and this really excited us, the fact that people will be investing in the structure, and will be involved in the making of it. It’s very exciting and is a design which works on so many levels."
The winning architects said: "What really grabbed us about this project was that it was an opportunity to explore a fundamentally different way of making things. Where traditional architecture has always been built by the few to impress upon the many, this would be the opposite: a structure built by the many to impress upon the few. We think it will be the world’s first truly ‘crowd-funded’ structure."
An exhibition of the entries to the competition to design the fortress will be held at the Oxo Bargehouse gallery on London’s Southbank from Wednesday 2nd June to Sunday 6th June. Members of the public are invited to view the stunning entries and decide for themselves if the judges got it right.
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