Writ in Water, the union of contemporary culture with place

Writ in Water is the architectural work of art developed by the artist Mark Wallinger in collaboration with architects Studio Octopi. This construction is part of the contemporary art program of the National Trust New Art of England, which seeks to places of historical importance.


The idea of commemorating the Magna Carta and the creation of the basis of common rights is transformed into architecture in Writ in Water. Located in Runnymede, on the slope of Cooper’s Hill, a circular building of 15.40 meters in diameter is located at the base of this hill.


The building is presented as two forceful stone cylinders interrupted only by access to them. These steps are placed in opposite ways generating a simple maze.


Writ in Water is an architecture exercise that reflects on the principles of democracy. At the same time it gathers water, sky and light as primary elements of architecture.


Once inside, a large open oculus allows for illumination and the view of the sky. As a projection of this oculus, a sheet of water with a metal sheet edge allows the reflection of the letters inscribed on it, the reflection being the one that allows the reading of clause 39 of the Magna Carta.


The inner space of Writ in Water hints at the need for reflection in ourselves, and how to live this experience of introspection, we learn and move forward.


Materiality has a relevant importance. The high walls are built with local stone and the roof is made of dark tinted wood. Details such as gravel pavement or small holes at ground level inside the labyrinth, allows the user to be oriented and encourages the experience not only on the spiritual level but also in the sensory one.


Photograph by Andrew Butler.