Beyond the Clouds
reThinking competition honorable mention
Team: David Emmons, Anthony Dombrowski
University of Illinois
Link1 Link2 Link3 Link4
“Resist whatever seems inevitable”
- Lebbeus Woods
At the outbreak of World War II, the Port of London was the busiest port in the world. As such, a large proportion of supplies to the UK entered by ships navigating the Thames. The German Navy quickly sought to put a stranglehold on this route, and to this end, utilized a new secret weapon – the magnetic influence mine. Whilst there were different variants of this mine, in simplistic terms, the mine was detonated by the presence of a large magnetic object – such as a steel hulled ship – passing in close proximity, without having to make physical contact.
Guy Maunsell, a civil engineer, had produced plans for offshore defenses. At the time his ideas were considered somewhat eccentric, but he was asked to submit plans for an offshore fort as an effective means of dealing with the laying of the mines. Plans were drawn up, and after some modification, approval was given for the manufacture and installation of four offshore forts.
Each tower was built off a reinforced concrete base of ‘Oxford picture frame’ design. Four hollow reinforced concrete legs of 3’ diameter supported the 36’ x 36’ steel house of two floors, with the military equipment installed on the top deck.
Each fort comprised seven towers linked by tubular steel catwalks. In addition to the Mersey forts, three forts of similar construction were built in the Thames estuary, between May and December, 1943. They were known as the Nore, Redsand and Shivering sands Army Forts.