Allan-Williams Turret

cambridge, uk

Earith would have been a key defensive position in the Fens during WW2, as here three roads and three waterways converge. This pre-fabricated steel structure could be rotated 360 degrees, and the rotation wheels and mechanism can still be seen in this rare example. A large earthwork or bulwark is sited here allegedly constructed during the civil war of 1642 – 1651.

OS Grid Reference: TL393749

Apollo Pasmore Pavilion

Peterlee, County Durham

The Apollo Pasmore Pavilion, named after the first manned mission to the moon in 1969, reflects the spirit of the brave new world of the sixties and has recently been revered as an iconic example of 1960’s public art.

OS Grid Reference: NZ 4222339633

Barns Ness Lighthouse

Barns Ness, East Lothian

The lighthouse, built out of stone quarried from Craigree (just outside Edinburgh) and Barnton, is located 3.1 miles from Dunbar and was completed in 1901 after approximately two and a half years of construction.

OS Grid Reference: NT 723772

Cobra Mist Site

Orford Ness, Suffolk

The former military site was acquired by the War Office as a testing ground for explosives, as well as photographing and filming the impact of flight paths. It lies just off the coast of the Suffolk village Orford.

OS Grid Reference: TM 4379548581

Copehill Down ‘FIBUA’

Salisbury Plain, Wiltshire

Copehill Down is a UK Ministry of Defence training facility located on Salisbury Plain, Wiltshire. Given the acronym FIBUA, which stands for Fighting In Built Up Areas, this site and a handful of others were built to provide the conditions for urban warfare and close quarters battle training.

OS Grid Reference: SU 017453

Copper Smelting Hut

Dungeness, Kent

Situated in Dungness which is the largest shingle promontory in Europe the huts  were used for dying fishing nets and clothing.  Big circular copper tubes were filled with water, and a fire lit underneath them.  A lump of kutch, plant resin from Burma, was put in a basket above the water, and slowly dissolved.

OS Grid Reference: TR 092941688

El Caminito del Rey

El Chorro, 29552, Alora, Malaga, Spain

OS Grid Reference: 36° 54'0″ N and 4°43'60” W

Fishermen’s Shacks

Dungeness, Kent

The Dungeness Conservation Area is sometimes referred to as ‘the village’ with an eclectic collection of buildings monitored by Shepway Planning Department regarding alteration and additions. The fisherman’s huts have been protected with a perimeter fence. A series of walk boards out to the sea by the lighthouse conserve the beach area.

OS Grid Reference: TR 092941688

Forest Fruit

The Pithead Baths of the former Princess Royal Colliery, Gloustershire

Forest Fruit is nestled into a hillside in the Forest of Dean beside the road to Bream. Of the former Pithead baths of the Princess Royal Colliery, both of which have been demolished, all that remains is the trace of the building’s footprint. The baths were part of a systematic modernist building programme orchestrated by the Miners Welfare Committee.

OS Grid Reference: SO 620062

Former Outdoor Pool

North Berwick, East Lothian

The former Kirk Ness Outdoor Pool occupied a spectacular promontory at the popular seaside town of North Berwick, 20 miles east of Edinburgh. Sadly the pool has now been converted into a boat park, but the old perimeter seating carved out of the rock, diving board platforms and single cubicles that run along the south side remain.

OS Grid Reference: NT 555855

Former Water Softening Plant

Newham, Kent

The water softening plant, which was known as a sludge blanket clarifier, formed part of the water treatment site for Mid Kent Plc which included a pump house, still in use. The structure was however abandoned in the forties after only a decade of use.

OS Grid Reference: TQ 9991761400

Gin Head

Canty Bay, East Lothian

The Admiralty Signals Base, built in 1943 sits just off the Coastal route (A198) approximately 20 miles from Edinburgh. The site provides a supreme vantage point from which to view the Bass Rock, home to 150,000 gannets, the largest single island colony in the world.

OS Grid Reference: NT 596851

Grain Tower Battery

No 1 The Thames, Isle of Grain, Kent

Grain Tower Battery boasts the exclusive address, No 1 The Thames. Grain Tower was built as an artillery tower to help protect the entrance to the River Medway and the dockyards of Sheerness and Chatham. A two storey brick barrack block which stands on stilts was added to the side of the tower in 1940.

OS Grid Reference: TQ 89867603

Holy Trinity Church

Twydall Green, Medway

The Roman Catholic church built in 1963, by the architecture Arthur Bailey sits in Twydall Green, a suburban overspill from Gillingham. Its remarkable design consists of a soaring pyramidal roof and sculptural brick base reminiscent of Le Corbusier’s Philips Pavilion for the World Fair in Brussels.

OS Grid Reference: TQ 800670

Iron Ore Mine

Isle of Raasay, Highlands & Islands

Raasay lies off the north coast of Skye, separated by the Sound of Rona. It is a slim island, measuring 3 miles at its widest, where Gaelic is still spoken. Carved into the cliff are the large­scale hoppers which would funnel the raw iron into the bogies and down the tracks straight onto the now disused pier.

OS Grid Reference: NG 579395

Long Melford Pill Box

longitude 0.7167

The World War II Pill Box has a cast concrete structure core with a skin of bricks to camouflage its use, which are weathered and worn. The structure can be seen from the River Stour walk on the opposite embankment.

OS Grid Reference: latitude 52.0667

Martello Towers

Sheerness, Kent

The three Defence towers that cluster together looking out across the sea at Sheerness. consists of an XPO Post (for Extended Defence Officers) which would supervise the firing of the controlled minefield laid at the entrance to the Medway. The command post, standing around fourteen metres high, was adorned with two domestic scale doors and windows at the first floor level.

OS Grid Reference: TQ 919749

National Museum of Flight

East Fortune, East Lothian

East Fortune, 30 miles east of Edinburgh near Scotland’s east coast, started life as a home defence airfield at the outbreak of the First World War in 1914. The site’s transition from military use to Flight Museum occurred when in 1971 the Ministry of Defence donated a Supermarine Spitfire to the Royal Museum, Edinburgh. Due to lack of space in accommodating the aeroplane, permission was granted for the museum to acquire one of the hangars on the south side of the former RAF East Fortune.

OS Grid Reference: NT 5556578959

Nobel Dynamite Factory

Ardeer, North Ayrshire

The Ardeer peninsula in Ayrshire is basically a gigantic sand dune. It was chosen by Swedish ­born Alfred Nobel in 1871 as the site for his British Dynamite Factory because of its remote location and plentiful sand to make protective berms and blast walls. It soon grew into the world’s largest explosives factory.

OS Grid Reference: NS 282406

Occidental Petroleum Oil Jetty

Canvey Island, Essex

The Jetty reaches one mile out into the Thames Estuary across Hole Haven of Vange Creek. The southern area of this site is predominantly a Petrochemical site since the first construction of an oil terminal in the area in 1936. Ironically construction of the Occidental oil refinery site was halted in 1975 when it was far from completion, after planning permission was revoked.

OS Grid Reference: TQ 789829

Osea Island

Estuary of Blackwater, Essex

The island houses a series of clapperboard houses largely built by the island’s early twentieth century residents. These are the result of the vision of Frederick Charrington who in 1903 purchased Osea and created one of the world’s first temperance societies.

OS Grid Reference: TL 913065

Pillbox Type 28

cambridge, uk

Hobb’s Lots Bridge, Cambridgeshire

This anti-tank pillbox is the largest in the area and has thick walls of at least 42 inches thick. It has a large opening for an anti-tank gun and a shell-proof roof. The construction of pillboxes was carried out by the army and local civilian builders during 1940.

OS Grid Reference: TF394013

RAF Barnham, Nuclear Weapon Storage Site

Barnham, Norfolk

The former nine­ hectare Ministry of Defence base once housed half of the UK’s arsenal of atomic bombs. The site is surrounded by the Thetford Heath. The site is a pentagonal with watch towers at four of the corners, which have been recently restored.

OS Grid Reference: TL 8507479807

Shark Fishery

Isle of Soay, Highland & Islands

Gavin Maxwell, best know as the author of Ring of Brightwater constructed the Shark Fishery on the Isle of Soay which lies of the southern tip of the Isle of Skye Bridge. The remains of the kilns and locomotive used to heat and extract the oil from the livers of the animals stand testimony to Maxwell’s thwarted enterprise.

OS Grid Reference: NG 443145

Skye Marble

Torrin Highlands & Islands

Outside of crofting, quarrying was relatively speaking, a major industry in the Strath, the valley which defines this central area of Skye. The first major quarry, operated during the eighteenth century around Ben Suardal on the B8083 between Broadford and Torrin.

OS Grid Reference: NG 650230

Sound Mirrors

Greatstone, Kent

The Sound Mirrors lie approximately half a kilometre from Lydd-­on-­Sea, where a solitary sign at Lydd car parks announces the site, Mirrors, pointing haphazardly away from the sea. The mirrors are remnants of Britain’s experimental work into acoustic sound devices, built between 1917 and 1930 as early warning systems to detect army aircraft.

OS Grid Reference: TR 075213

St Peter’s Seminary

Cardross, Argyll & Bute

The seminary designed by Gillespie, Kidd and Coia in 1968 sits in forty­-five hectares of woodland on the outskirts of Cardross, on the north side of the Firth of Clyde, halfway between Dumbarton and Helensburgh, in the region of Argyll and Bute in Scotland.

OS Grid Reference: NS 352784

The Battery Observation Post

Bawsdsey, Suffolk

The village of Bawdsey, in Suffolk, appears to consist largely of a main street simply called The Street. East Street which lies perpendicular will take you down to the Gun Battery, still well preserved, although the gun emplacements lack their overhead cover.

OS Grid Reference: TM 3568740072

The Gama Site

Greenham Common, Berkshire

RAF Greenham Common is located to the south­east of Newbury, Berkshire, about 50 miles west of London. The Gama Site as it was officially known stands for the Ground- launched Cruise Missile Alert and Maintenance Area and is one of the most important Cold War monuments in Europe.

OS Grid Reference: SU 4990065034

The Picric Acid Expense Store

Lower Bullingham, Herefordshire

The Picric Acid Expense Store at the former Rotherwas Munitions Factory, Lower Bullingham, is part of a munitions filling factory dating from the First World War. It represents part of the history of wartime large scale munitions production technology.

OS Grid Reference: SO 5259938782

Torness Power Station

Torness, East Lothian

Torness Power Station has a powerful presence within its spectacular setting located on the East Lothian coast, 6 miles southeast of Dunbar, close to the A1 and railway. Torness produces a generating capacity of 1400 megawatts approaching twenty-­five per cent of the maximum demand for electricity in Scotland.

OS Grid Reference: NT 746750


Salisbury Plain, Wiltshire

Upavon is situated 12 miles north of the city of Salisbury, in Wiltshire. The Army began to acquire the Plain in 1897, the current estate amounts to 38000 hectares. The Bulford Ranges, when in use, are signaled by the flying of red flags, otherwise open access is favoured by the MOD to most areas.

OS Grid Reference: SU 1550654878

Walpole Bay Tidal Pool

Viking Bay, Margate, Kent

In the early twentieth century, Margate thrived as a seaside resort boasting two large sea water bathing pools. A walk along the Cliftonville seafront brings one to the Walpole Bay Tidal Pool at Marine Terrace.The seawater swimming pool was built around 1938, by enclosing the foreshore with two sidewalls and an end wall.

OS Grid Reference: TR 369709

Warden Point

Isle of Sheppey, Kent

Warden Point’s Chain Home Low Station (CHL) opened in May 1941. CHL was the name of a British radar early warning system detecting enemy aircraft movement at lower altitudes than normal. Warden was at one time a thriving hamlet with coastguard cottages, a church and some houses of historical interest. Nearly all have vanished over the cliffs.

OS Grid Reference: TR 021724

World War 11 Observation Block

Favignana, Aegadian Islands

Favignana is the largest of the Egadi Islands (Aegadian in English). During WW11 the island was surrendered to American forces alongside the two smaller islands Levanzo and Marittimo. The Block looks out to in coming naval boats from Sicily.

OS Grid Reference: 37°56′N 12°20′E

The Archive for Rural Contemporary Architecture surveys, collates and celebrates Britain’s rare and often-over looked twentieth century rural architectural sites.

ARCA explores interpretations of the British landscape that focus on often marginal and overlooked places. The on-line archive creates a multi-layered reading of places often accompanied by forgotten social histories and an appreciation of the bleak, the failed and the uncomfortable. The archive acts as a roadmap for other activities to spring board from, creating a forum of events around ARCA, encompassing Architours, publications and location specific events.
ARCA launched the publication Slacklands in May 2014, which provides a guide to 31 sites across the UK, with an informative text and photographs that capture each sites lack of traditional appeal as well as their striking aesthetic.

Corinna Dean

Corinna Dean is an architect, writer and curator with a doctorate from the LSE. She has written on the subject of architecture and strife, and cultural regeneration. Her research has taken her to locations such as Lebanon and Cameroon. She is exploring cultural readings of public space with an ongoing project in India. Her work looks at how different cultures structure knowledge and therefore shape meaning.

22 April 2019

Building in the Anthropocene

Here is a pdf of the photo essay I wrote from the erudite and entertaining magazine Disegno, Spring edition 2019, on the Yorkshire Sculpture Park’s new Visitors’ Centre by architects Feilden Fowles. Photos by the talented Mikael Olsson, he of part-time actor in ‘Suspira’ and the ‘Square’. The article aims to position the building in relation to the Anthropocene and the writings of the American artist Robert Smithson.

22 June 2018

New Publications-Forensic Materiality

Forensic Materiality (working title) will be a wider format publication expanding the archive collection of knowledge of buildings in rural sites, through exploring the materiality of the buildings. This will be done using the unique  photographic technique titled Reflectance Transformation Imaging (RTI), which has been used in the field of forensic science, for example imaging footprints, tire marks and indented writing. It is a type of 2.5 D (as opposed to 3-D) scanning which is illustrated in the image below and transports the surface of a material into a topographical landscape, through a forensic way of seeing.

16 June 2017

Trace opens at Margaret Howell, Wigmore Street London

ARCA/Corinna Dean & Duarte Santo

Exhibition dates 13 June  to 2 July, 2017

Mon-Sat 10.00 -18.00/Sun. 12.00 – 17.00 34 Wigmore Street, London, W1U 2RS

ARCA has created two cast models of the World War II Air Raid Shelter situated below the Hopton Street Almshouses, Bankside, London. The Shelter is a little known piece of subterranean architecture and the models create a reminder of London’s recent industrial past, fast becoming forgotten in Bankside which was known for its concentration of small manufacturers.

The models show castings of the negative and volumetric space of the Shelter, which was built to protect the employees of the paper manufacturer, Amalgamated Press, which lay adjacent to the Power Station’s west façade, now the ramp leading into Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall.

Trace is a poignant response to the theme of this year’s London Festival of Architecture, ‘memory’, bringing attention to what lies beneath the modern residential blocks.

24 April 2017

ARCA gets ready to show at the London Festival of Architecture, 2017

ARCA will produce an exhibition which will a cast model and drawings of the World War II, Air Raid Shelter which is accessible through the Hopton Street Almshouses, London SE1 and runs adjacent to the residential development Neo Bankside. The exhibition will be held at the William Russell designed gallery space in Margaret Howell’s Wigmore Street showroom.

16 February 2015

WWII War Ministry Kit Bridge near Monymusk Village, Aberdeenshire.

Bridge constructed by Sir Francis Grant just after WW2. It was bought from the War Ministry as a kit for £250 (no receipt but a diary entry to confirm) and constructed by POWs (in Monymusk Village there was a camp of more than 5000 war displaced and refugees). Bridge posted by Theo Bird.

10 December 2014

Observation Tower from arca commons contributor HM Pollock.

This observation tower is located between Catmel and Haverthwaite, in Cumbria and was designed for spotters to sit and watch low-level Russian bombers flying over Morecambe Bay.

30 October 2014

Architour 1: RAF Barnham NEW TRIP DATE SATURDAY 14 March 2015 @ 11 am

On Saturday 14 March, 2015  at 11:00am ARCA will be touring the Barnham Cold War site, near Thetford, Suffolk. RAF Barnham once housed the Blue Danube Britain’s first nuclear bomb. The tour will be carried out by the owner and restorer of the site Keith Eldred. Keith bought the site over 30 years ago from the Ministry of Defense and has introduced a multi-purpose hub of activities where the restored relics of the UK’s largest cold war storage depot can be experienced, alongside creative workshops amongst the 3 acre site, complete with look-out tours. PLEASE EMAIL TO BOOK A PLACE.

Numbers are limited, please sign up early by emailing

2 June 2014

Slacklands Launch

The Slacklands exhibition was launched in the central London headquarters of Margaret Howell in May 2014. The exhibition developed the content explored in the publication of the same name Slacklands which describes a new vocabulary reflecting the alternative narrative to the manufactured tourist ‘gaze’ of the twentieth century, in an attempt to define Britain’s left over sites such as terrain vague, drosscape or the sublime of the military landscape. The contemporary usage of the word slack has been used to describe the unsavoury and often derogatory behaviour of a loose women. But in its association with culture, it represents a subversion of the accepted aesthetics surrounding the rural. Applicable to Slacklands’ territories which are at times both unpredictable and unpalatable, slack questions the field of accepted aesthetic norms in relation to our landscape. The exhibition featured a series of commissioned silkscreen prints by the Seoul based Karl Nawrot/Walter Warton Interpreting 6 of the 31 sites featured in the book.

Installation photographs by Theo Simpson

23 February 2014

Online Archive

The ARCA website provides an open access on-line resource to allow users to engage with debates focused on the buildings and their surrounding territories. It aims to open up a more diverse interpretation of the British landscape, one that drives new aesthetic visions. The on-line archive invites users to add proposed sites to the existing content.