A masterplan has been designed for the docks of Ghent. Some buildings have to disappear while concrete will be poured somewhere else, waterside dwellers will meet new neighbours and yesterday’s practices will make way for current activities. Following this plan, the concrete structure of the Grindbakken – used in the past to transfer gravel and sand between ships and trucks – was about to be transformed into a multi-purpose area accessible to the public, supplied with water and electricity and painted white as an empty canvas for future activities.
When we were asked to present a first intervention in this space, we chose to interfere in this painting process. We selected and documented specific areas of interest, and 36 frames were built on-site to protect these areas during the cleaning and painting.
No one painted the frame; the red colour came about another way. As a rule, these depots were only used to store gravel and sand. But they were once also used in an emergency to stock iron ore. The brief presence of this substance left a bright red colour in some of the depots. But this still only explains one of the many shades visible on this concrete wall.
A seam runs across the entire wall. The pouring of the concrete for the wall happened in two stages: the first part has set or even partially hardened before the rest of the formwork was filled. The surface above the construction joint is in a worse condition and contains more gravel pockets: it seems the second pouring was of a lesser quality.
The gravel depots were designed for bulk transport logistics: materials were stocked in heaps. The biological growth patterns reveal the presence of such heaps. Since the diameter of the white lichens on this wall grew at a rate of roughly 3 mm per year and since the largest instances measure 5 cm, it can be estimated that the heaps were here for 15 years.
Description by authors