Colorado native Calvin Seibert grew up on a construction site, wandering out after-hours to play with the large mounds of sand left behind. His experimentation with sandcastles began hundreds and hundreds of miles away from an ocean but the love of the craft stuck with him. Now he travels to various beaches to create impermanent sculptures that capture the imagination – inspired by the shapes and forms of Brutalist architecture, they bend the mind with their sharp edges and gravity defying arrangements. Seibert works with a simple toolkit of pails and putty knives, but the results hint at the complexity of fully realized buildings.
Many of the sculptures are a composite of simple forms, much like the Brutalist style of buildings that inspired them. Here, rectangles seem to defy gravity despite the heavy-looking forms.
Seibert makes sure to point out that his whimsical sandcastles aren’t built the same way as some of the competition-grade sandcastles. While competition entries are often carved from solid forms, his are packed and shaped by hand.
The artist doesn’t actually start with a solid plan in mind. Sketches and studies help to influence each sculpture but only in an abstract way: when Seibert hits the sand, the sand gets all the attention.
Building castles like these is a race against time. High tides, wind, seagulls, and beach going children are just a few of the potential obstacles the artist has to consider.
Of course, with over 30 years of sandcastle-building under his belt, Calvin Seibert likely has a good intuition when it comes to picking the perfect spot for his creations.
Unfortunately, the Brutalist structures that helped inform this style turned out to be just as transient as the sandcastles themselves. Multiple organizations work to preserve the historical style that finds itself frequently under attack.
Forms range from rigid to organic. As the sun passes overhead, the structures tend to change and evolve.
Building up from one plane to the next, the artist is able to create compositions that look like surreal landscapes of sorts. Courtyards and architectural features are common themes.
Some of them look like fully realized cities, with whimsical pathways that give a clue to the daily lives of whatever residents the imagination can conjure.
Castles like these look gravity defying and immovably sturdy all at once.
Creative angles and curves contribute to a sense of weightlessness in some sculptures. Onlookers expect sand to be heavy and dense, making the visual experience even more interesting.
Some of the sculptures are so architecturally inspired they could almost be mistaken for a conceptual model. Here, textural details allude to different building materials.
Dystopian structure or just an intricate geometric form? Each piece leaves enough ambiguity for the imagination to take hold.
The color and texture of sand makes it a brilliant material for sculptures inspired by Brutalism, a movement that always emphasized concrete construction.
Seibert grew up near the Eero Saarinen TWA Terminal. The building’s dramatic curves and swooping shapes remains an important part of the artist’s repertoire. See if you can identify this inspiration in the rest of the images from the series: