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13 November 2014

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You are in: Bradford and West Yorkshire > Features > Latest > Plastic fantastic in Cas!

Wolfgang and Berthold

Wolfgang and Berthold

Plastic fantastic in Cas!

It's yellow, VERY yellow in fact, it's plastic and it's built on the top of two metal containers that would look more at home perched on a lorry or a ship. What is it? It's Castleford's new landmark...the Cratehouse! We've been finding out more...


The Cratehouse is certainly a sunny splash of colour in an otherwise nondescript Castleford Street - Sagar Street to be precise. And that's just from the outside! Once you get inside the 'sculpture' (that's what it really is), you're in a different world. Even on a grey and rainy day (and let's face it we get plenty of those in West Yorkshire!), the curved walls glow warmly and cast ever-changing shapes and colours onto the floor. Not bad for a few hundred plastic crates...

Castleford's Cratehouse

Mellow yellow? Castleford's new landmark

It's the brainchild of two German artists, Wolfgang Winter and Berthold Hörbelt, who were asked to create the Cratehouse as part of an attempt to regenerate Castleford, and it puts Cas in some pretty good company. Since 1992, Wolfgang and Berthold have created Cratehouses in over 25 places across the world including Houston, New York, Hanoi and Obihiro in Japan. Not bad going! Of course, it's quite appropriate that Castleford should end up being listed alongside New York and Hanoi, after all the town has had a real impact on the art world thanks to its most famous son, the sculptor Henry Moore.

The Cratehouse will have its critics, though. You can't just stick a bright yellow circular building on top of a couple of shipping containers at the end of a normal Cas street and expect otherwise. But, Wolfgang explains that a lot of thought has gone into it, and it's certainly not just been thrown together. In fact, he says a great deal of planning and talking with local people always goes into the pair's Cratehouses, wherever they may be. Before the grand opening, the artists had been to Castleford three times and spoke to people in the town while they were working on their ideas for their sculpture/installation/building to find out what they thought about it. Even so, we had to ask why their enthusiasm for yellow plastic crates? Why not something a little more...arty? Wolfgang says the answer's simple: "We wanted to work with materials that are all around us. We don't think art should be shut off from the public!"

Woman sitting in Cratehouse, Castleford

Taking a moment in the Cas Cratehouse!

Even the shipping containers which support the Castleford Cratehouse are there for a reason, with Wolfgang and Berthold claiming they reflect the town's industrial heritage and its important location on the meeting point of the rivers Aire and Calder. Wolfgang says: "During our visits to Castleford we saw the metal shipping containers that people in the town use as meeting points, something like small clubhouses...One of our first ideas was to change a little this kind of architecture to create maybe a functional pavilion with sculptural and architectural qualities as a semi-public space where people can stay together in a pleasant way and have fun together!"

And what did Wolfgang and Berthold think of Castleford itself? It's a far cry from Houston or Hanoi after all: "We got to really like the town. We liked the lifestyle, sitting in the pub and looking at the Cratehouse!" 

"We got to really like the town. We liked the lifestyle, sitting in the pub and looking at the Cratehouse!"

Wolfgang Winter

Whatever their intention, they've certainly managed to create something that's likely to cause comment from people in Castleford - whether positive or negative. On its opening day, the Cratehouse caused people to literally stop and stare. it does, in the best possible way, stand out from the rest of Sagar Street and from the rest of Castleford town centre! And this is just the start. One of the most important Cuban artists of his generation, Carlos Garaicoa has also been invited to work in Castleford and he's already expressed an interest in the town's heritage and regeneration plans. No doubt we'll be hearing - and seeing - more from him before too long!

As for those plans, it seems there's a lot to look forward to. The Castleford Project, as it's known, is a collaboration between a terrestrial TV channel, a number of national regeneration organisations and, of course, people in the town and the surrounding area. Things are already moving, with a total of eleven improvement schemes underway including the creation of a new village green at New Fryston, community park improvements, and a children's playforest at Cutsyke.

Castleford's Cratehouse

Plastic fantastic!: Cas's new Cratehouse

For now, though, the Cratehouse is the most obvious sign that something's changing in Castleford. Its creators, Wolfgang and Berthold are now heading off for Egypt and possibly China, leaving behind them a real landmark! Wolfgang says he'll remember the Cas Cratehouse for a long time to come, and has one particular memory of it which he'll cherish: "Looking at it when it's closed at night, it looks like a big yellow Christmas tree!"

The Cratehouse on Sagar Street in Castleford is open on market days (Monday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday) between 10am and 4pm. No more than 10 people at a time. Admission is free!

last updated: 28/08/2008 at 15:55
created: 02/10/2006

Have Your Say

Have you been to the Cratehouse in Castleford? What do you think of it from the pictures you can see here? Is it art? Tell us what YOU think here!

The BBC reserves the right to edit comments submitted.

Diana Hardy
Looking at the web site and seeing the Crate House I know exactly where it is !I was born in Castleford 68 yrs ago and lived there during the war years .I dont know what to say about it but as I now live in Greece and have for the last 38yrs I can only hope that it will still be there next year when my nephew has made me promise to visit this particular area.The business my grandfather started used to be on this site I think if it is at the Aire St end,that was Keyzers,he was of Dutch descent although a lot of ignorant people thought the name was German! Iwish you all a lot of luck Castleford is not an easy place.Good Luck.

and people question me why we left cas and i never admit im from there

michael mccluskey
what a waste of money seems we are good at that in castleford wake up open your eyes and spend the mony (our money) on things we need like schools hospitals and roads etc

Wat a total waste of money

Steve, Normy.
Garbage, litterally.

Andy from Ossett
Interesting concept but in wrong place maybe outside the tate modern

jade lacy castleford
i think the cratehouse is good and must have taken up a lot of time..... but is ther really any point to it nowa days teenagers will go out of their way to cause trouble and havoc so really was there any point building that for it just to get trashed???

The money should have been spent on mending potholes, policing the streets and the space should be left for parking, instead of the bright yellow eyesore that serves no purpose!!!!

the woorld has gone mad!!!

Lisa-Marie North
It looks pretty stupid! It's just plonked there and it looks like a tacky bit of plastic!(which is what it is!) Waste of time and money.....

Claire, Wakefield
Another waste of money to blot the Castleford sky line

dawn castleford
Saw the Cratehouse and thought it looked really out of place. Maybe if it was outside Leeds Art Gallery?

Cheryl Norton
Waht the ****? Why are we wasting time on stupid things like the above when we should be spending our time converting Castleford into a better toen for future generations?!!

chris in little germany
it looks good but how's it going to help people in castleford? not sure whether stuff like this can really help somehow.maybe the money could be better spent???

Sarah from Bradford
It;ll get slagged off but I think its cool!

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