An unprecedented attraction that brings together artistry, ancient geology and engineering is soon to be revealed in Cape Town. EARTHBOX is a truly unique immersive installation, designed to offer the public an engaging journey into the earth; travelling back through the layers of time to experience the world beneath our feet. A global first, the installation, which is located on Lourensford Wine Estate in Somerset West, will be open to the public for a limited duration only – from 1st November 2023 till the 1st May 2024.
Visitors to EARTHBOX will descend into a 24 metre long underground chamber that takes them 5 metres below surface, placing them just above ground that is between 550 and 560 million years old. Escaping the noise and heat of a busy summer, the EARTHBOX excavated experience is one of finding quiet and awe through a voyage into the earth. Raw earth walls and floors bring visitors into close relationship with the textures, scent and gentle sensory experience of a silent world, a glimpse of deep time etched into the walls over millions of years.
The installation is situated on a previously farmed field on the Lourensford estate. The gardens above ground have been beautifully designed by Franchesca Watson and landscaped by Heimo Schulzer. Visitors can spend time in the tranquil spaces above ground before and after their time in the EARTHBOX chamber. A tastefully curated on-site shop offers earth-inspired creations by artists and artisans.
The project is the first by international experiential studio The Dream Commission who are committed to topping up the current global quota of creativity and curiosity through exciting and unusual once-off projects.
The Dream Commission’s Founding Partner and Director, Marina Busse, explains the impulse behind creating an experiential company. “Reality is tough enough, so finding joy in the small things, with a sprinkle of playfulness, is a great antidote to the grind. Brad (Brad Baard: Creative Director of The Dream Commission) and I, are looking to help reawaken that innate sense of childlike wonder; to give people inspiration, hope and a reappreciation of the everyday through unexpected and interesting experiences.”
Busse says they chose EARTHBOX for their first project in response to our times. “We live in a world where we are so distracted from what really matters. Everything seems to be designed to focus our attention outwards: from what is happening in the world on a daily basis to sharing glorified versions of our lives and comparing ourselves with other people. EARTHBOX is a space that invites us to reconnect with ourselves (through a physical, visceral and sensory bodily response), with others, and to contemplate where we’ve come from. A space that is older than humankind as we know it. It’s an opportunity to literally go back to a time older than humankind and experience a space that existed long before any of the challenges we face in society today. A space that can help give us some perspective; maybe even remind us that we’re only here for a short while, because in this space there is physical evidence of what has been millions of years before us, and what is likely still to be here millions of years after us.”
On a sneak preview visit, Mayoral Committee Member for Economic Growth, Alderman James Vos, said , “EARTHBOX is a completely unique attraction and world first that takes visitors into another layer of Cape Town’s ancient past. It’s yet another way that Cape Town innovates in the telling of our story as a destination and it provides an opportunity for people to find a quiet space for reflection and wonder.”
The planning for EARTHBOX started in 2021 and has been a phenomenal undertaking involving engineers, environmentalists, geologists, artists and designers. Along with Geotechnical Engineer, Patrick Beales from AECOM, The Dream Commission brought engineer Henry Fagan in to consult on the structure. Fagan’s eye for built projects that resonate, and even integrate, with their natural surroundings was a perfect fit for EARTHBOX. His previous projects include the ‘Boomslang’ Walkway at Kirstenbosch and Bosjes Chapel in Ceres. Breaking ground and bringing the project to life has been an all-consuming process. The creators’ stringent attitude to both safety and quality has meant that the project has been executed by top professionals with exhaustive preparation of the environment and structure.
EARTHBOX will launch with an exclusive curated event in association with renowned visual artist, Trevor Stuurman and KRAAK. The installation will also host a number of special events, experiences and activations in collaboration with local creatives throughout its duration. It is also available for private hire.
Tickets for EARTHBOX start at R100.
Pre-sale ticket purchases opened on 1 October 2023 on Webtickets. The installation opens to the public on 1 November 2023.
Each ticket gives visitors access to the EARTHBOX chamber and time to enjoy the tranquil landscaped spaces above ground.
Children under the age of 5 are not permitted in the chamber.
Please note that the experience is technology free and the use of mobile phones is not permitted inside EARTHBOX.
The EARTHBOX experience is wheelchair accessible.
For more information visit https://earthbox.co.za