Lost Town is a project by two young German architects, Anne Niemann and Johannes Ingrisch for a steel sculpture off the coast of East Anglia in the UK which highlights the impact of coastal erosion and the forces of nature which control it. By rebuilding a now lost church of the medieval city of Walton, a now sunk city near the shores of Essex in the North Sea as a marine steel sculpture, the project aims to create a unique landmark, commemorating East of England's lost towns.
The symbolic structure in the North Sea consists of 41 steel piles of different lengths with a diameter of 70 cm. The structure mimics the lost church of medieval Walton, a former landmark and navigation aid for seamen. The piles are made of stainless steel which resist sea water and protect against corrosion. By polishing them, the surface becomes highly reflecting and the surface adopts the colours of its surroundings: The appearance of the sculpture changes according to sunlight, weather conditions and viewpoints and lets the sun and the ocean become part of the steel structure.
The project originated in an international competition commissioned by the Landmark East Development Agency in the UK and won by Anne Niemann and Johannes Ingrisch in 2004. The competition aimed at dealing with the issue of coastal erosion and revitalisimg the coastal region of Eastern England. Subsequently, a feasibility study was conducted and the site of Walton-on-the-Naze in Essex was chosen for the Lost Town sculpture. Today, the town of Walton is protected by a concrete sea wall and wooden groynes. This coastal protection line starts south-west of Clacton and goes up to the Naze where it leaves the last mile unprotected. The Naze itself is eroding heavily. Pillboxes from the Second World War have fallen from the cliff and are lying on the beach, illustrating how fast coastal erosion continues (1-2 meter per year). If the erosion is not stopped, the Naze tower, a former lighthouse and landmark in Walton is likely to be lost to the sea within the next 50 years and the Naze might become an island.
To the present day the funding of 4 million euros is not secured and the realisation of the project remains uncertain. Lost Town is also the subject of a documentary film which traces the route of the two architects since the beginning of the project. In 2010, the architects created a charity fund to support the funding initiative.