10: Trench layouts

In plan as well as in structural detail, the form that trenches took seems to emerge half a century later.

Machine-gun nests at Vimy RidgeChurchill Gardens

Preserved machine-gun nest, Vimy Ridge;
Churchill Gardens, Pimlico

Architect’s intention: The aim is to give visual variety to the interior public gardens in Pimlico by making them split level. The lower level also provides a sheltered nook for the bench.
Effect in practice: Because the garden is sparse, the split-level wall becomes its main feature of interest rather than as something to facilitate other features. As a result, undue prominence is given to what might otherwise be a secondary element.
Visual effect: The look of the garden, particularly from the flats above, corresponds to that of a machine-gun nest. Even the bricks mirror the sandbags.
Phenomenological effect: To sit in the lower level produces an unusal feeling of calmness, almost power. You can see over the top, but those above can’t see you. Precisely the feelings of a man sat in a half-sunken machine-gun post.
Discussion: What stands out here is not only the feature itself, but the lack of any others in what is a spacious garden. It is as if nothing else appealed to the minds behind it, apart from that which happened to resonate with something else.