Greenpeace Airplot


BBM were keen to send in a competition entry as an answer to the call for ideas for the Greenpeace ‘airplot’ campaign. The airplot site is a piece of land in the middle of Heathrow’s proposed third runway area. The brief was to, “…gain international attention and develop a practical solution, facilitating resistance to the development of the runway if full scale non-violent direct action is necessary.”

Our strategy was not to make the most impregnable structure, but to create an incremental sequence of media-friendly elements aimed at winning hearts and minds, which can ultimately (and only if necessary) support an extremely robust ‘final stand’.

We proposed a pavilion in a landscape which starts off as a place for disseminating the true impact of airport expansion. It will provide a physical presence and stage for a global campaign through the media and web. However, should bulldozers seem likely, the pavilion and its landscape can quickly convert to a self-sustaining series of defensive layers. The un-peeling of each successive barrier would be broadcast via the web in a way which further reinforces public opposition to airport expansion.

1. Communication Phase

A moat is created, taking advantage of the high water table and acts as a bioswale, purifying waste water whilst encouraging local wildlife. A grid of solar-powered exhibition ‘plinths’ provides a framework for a range of media events, broadcast to the world, disseminating the true impact of airport expansion. Incremental implementation allows a rapid occupation of the site, while fund-raising continues for the more technically involved aspects of the design.

2. Colonisation Phase

40mm ø scaffolding components set out on a 1220mm x 2440mm foot grid. Standard 2.15 x 5m panels of galvanised steel reinforcement mesh provide a transparent but robust veil to the upper deck. Roof decks harvest grown food, rain water plus solar and wind energy self-sufficient accommodation is provided for 6 live-in campaigners. Further tent pitches and camp facilities at ground level for large numbers of protestors and an outer layer ‘human shield’.

3.Legacy Phase

Remove & Re-Use: All components are fully dismantled and transported away for re-use in future Greenpeace campaigns. Both cabins used in the design are of prefabricated and demountable design. The on site wash facilities can be kept or offered to a local sports club while the accommodation cabin easily converts to a house or eco-lodge. Cox’s apple grove: the original island is planted with a grove of commemorative Cox’s apple trees, the scaffold pad stones, with a central hole, become bases for benches, with the trees growing up through the middle.