Discover PlayDecide. Download games, prepare, play. GET STARTED

The Shark House Dilemma

Choose your language

PlayDecide games may be available in multiple languages

Play the game

Download, prepare, discuss & collect results.

SIGN INRegister

“The Headington Shark (proper name Untitled 1986) is a rooftop sculpture located at 2 New High Street, Headington, Oxford, England, depicting a large shark embedded head-first in the roof of a house. The shark first appeared on 9 August 1986.

Author / translator Roberto Rocco

“The Headington Shark (proper name Untitled 1986) is a rooftop sculpture located at 2 New High Street, Headington, Oxford, England, depicting a large shark embedded head-first in the roof of a house. The shark first appeared on 9 August 1986. Bill Heine, a local radio presenter who owned the house until 2016, has said "The shark was to express someone feeling totally impotent and ripping a hole in their roof out of a sense of impotence and anger and desperation... It is saying something about CND, nuclear power, Chernobyl and Nagasaki". The sculpture, which is reported to weigh 200 kg and is 7.6 m long and is made of painted fibreglass, is named Untitled 1986 (written on the gate of the house). The sculpture was erected on the 41st anniversary of the dropping of the atomic bomb on Nagasaki. It was designed by sculptor John Buckley and constructed by Anton Castiau, a local carpenter and friend of John Buckley ”.

The Shark House dilemma is conceived as an exercise of negotiation over a set of societal questions that are relevant for planning and for planners:

1. What are the rights of individuals in face of the rights of the community?
2. Is public art a public good?
3. Who decides what is public art and what is beautiful or not in the public domain?
4. Who has access to urban art?
5. Who are the actors involved in planning decisions?
6. How fair are decision making processes in planning? (procedural justice) Where is POWER located in planning processes?

Created 5 December 2018
Last edited 5 December 2018
Topics Culture, Politics

Policy positions

Policy position 1

The shark will be immediately removed.

Policy position 2

The shark will be moved to a park.

Policy position 3

The shark will be moved to a museum.

Policy position 4

The shark will be put in the back garden of the house and will be accessible to the public

Policy position 5

The shark will remain and be recognise as a symbol of Headington.

Story cards

Story card - no image

Age: 56
Occupation: Shop owner in the area

Deepanshu owns a convenience shop in the same street at the Shark House. He was profoundly distrustful of Bill Heine, the American who one beautiful day decided to plant a shark through the roof of his house in Headington. Deepanhsu started to changed his mind when tourists from London started to arrive in troves to photograph the shark. Deepanshu is a dedicated cricket player and is the captain of the Headington Cricket Team, a team of men in their 40s and 50s who gather every weekend to play cricket at the local Headington Country Club. As captain, Deepanshu is immensely popular. Walter Harrington plays in the same team.

Little Known Fact: Deepanshu was the first Hindu member of the Oxford Country Club in 1986, but now the club is quite diverse, with people from all ethnicities. Many inhabitants of Headington are members of this club and enjoy cricket.

DEEPANSHU DAS
Story card - no image

Age: 63
Occupation: Pub Owner and neighbour of the shark house

Edmund is the owner of the Rising Sun, a traditional pub in Headington, where people use to congregate to celebrate the World Cub and the Cricket World Cup. Edmund is a conservative Tory voter who voted to Leave the European Union, because he wants Britain “take back control” over issues of immigration and defence. Ed is not a fan of foreigners and just about puts up with Deepanshu. Edmund is the father of Elisa Harris (née Elisa Green), a teacher at the local school and activist for women’s rights.

Little Known Fact: Edmund is not a churchgoer, but is a fanatic of cricket.

EDMUND GREEN
Story card - no image

Age: 38

Elisa is a teacher at the local school, The Windmill. She is the daughter of Edmund and Peggy. Edmund is the owner of the Rising Sun, the local pub, where celebrations are held for the city’s many sports teams. Although raised in a conservative household, Elisa became a feminist and an activist early on. She has a friendship with Saida Ben Mansour (a social worker) and with Alvita Powell, the Jamaican matriarch and resident of the Headington Gardens Flats. Elisa teaches small children, but takes an interest in the many vulnerable teenagers living in the Flats. She is a fan of sports and is frequently seen at the Rising Sun, her father’s pub. Elisa wonders if the shark is public art.

LKF: Elisa has a profound dislike of Molly Gump. She is friends with Huazu Chen, who she occasionally helps.

ELISA HARRIS
Story card - no image

Age: 75
Occupation: Housewife and social activist

Alvita came from Jamaica in 1948 with the ‘Windrush Generation’. “The group comprises British citizens who came to the UK from the Commonwealth as children following the Second World War, and whose rights were guaranteed in the Immigration Act of 1971. Named the Windrush generation after British ship the Empire Windrush, which arrived at Tilbury Docks in Essex with 492 Caribbean passengers in 1948, “many have made the UK their home for their entire lives”, says the Channel 4 News website. Despite her age, Alvita is incredibly active in the council flats she has lived with her husband David since 1971. Despite being socially conservative and disapproving of “alternative life styles”, Alvita has got involved with domestic violence after a neighbour sought refuge in her flat following a vicious attack from her husband (that neighbour turned out to be Huazu Chen, the owner of the Peking Duck). She often works with Saida Ben Mansour (a local social worker) and Elisa Harries (a local teacher). She has resolutely fought the c

ALVITA POWELL
Story card - no image

Age: 78
Occupation: retired plumber

David came from Jamaica in 1960 and is married to Alvita, the Jamaican matriarch who reigns over the Headington Garden Flats, the flats run by the council where the most vulnerable citizens of Headington live. David was a fervent Labour voter, but went disillusioned with politics after the Leave Vote. He is part of the Headington Country Club and helps with the Headington Cricket Club, but feels that he is too old to play. He used to be a Rastafarian, but decided to join the Quakers after a car accident in which he and Alvita almost lost their lives. Adele Sekula, the mayor of Headington, is also part of the same circle of Quaker friends, having given up Catholicism. Although David and Adele have known each other for many years, they are not close because, as Quakers, they mostly sit down in silence and contemplate. David thinks every man should be able to decide what to do with their property. He is also concerned about too much media attention.

LKF: David and Molly Gump had a secret romance in the 1980s.

DAVID POWELL
Story card - no image

Age: 25
Occupation: Social worker at Headington Council

Saida is a social worker at Headington, and her main responsibility is towards the women of the neighbourhood where the shark house is located. Although this is a relatively affluent neighbourhood, the Headington Council Flats are located there and has been facing the prospect of eviction for some years. While Headington and the neighbourhood are generally safe, Saida and a group of women at the council got together to raise awareness on domestic abuse at the local council schools. Saida works with community leaders, including Elisa Harries (a local school teacher) and Alvita Powell, the matriarch of a Jamaican family living in one of the council flats around the corner from the shark house.

When Saida saw the shark for the first time, she rolled her eyes and thought “Oh, no, another boy’s phallic symbol!” , but has grown to like the shark after she met the rebellious owner of the shark house, Bill Heine, for whom "The shark [expresses] someone feeling totally impotent and ripping a hole in their roof out of

SAIDA BEN MANSOUR
Story card - no image

Age: 75
Occupation: retired school teacher and member of the Headington Heritage Society

After 40 years as a teacher at the Windmill Primary School in Headington, Molly welcomed her retirement as an opportunity to enjoy all the things that she and her husband, Ted Gump, didn’t have the time to enjoy while they were working. Ted had been a plumber for as long as he could remember and they have 3 kids, all living in different parts of the UK. Upon retirement, Ted and Molly bought a time share apartment in Malaga, Spain, but the 2008 Spanish Real Estate Crisis hit the developer hard and the apartments were never delivered. Ted and Molly got into a long and seemingly never-ending legal battle and hoped to get their money back one day. Meanwhile, Molly had befriended Lady Arabella Combs-Lyon, the eccentric heiress of Headington Manor, and big landowner in Headington. Molly helps give guided tours to the manor, which has fallen in disrepair after Lady Arabella’s father, Sir Archibald, suddenly died of a heart attack in 1986. Molly is also part of the Headington Heritage Society

MOLLY GUMP
Story card - no image

Age: 67
Occupation: Heiress of a large estate in Oxfordshire.

Half of Headington sits on land that belongs to the Combs-Lyons. The land is leased to developers for 100 years and developers get rent from tenants. This includes the school, the pub (The Rising Sun), the Headington Garden Flats and even the shark house itself. The lease to the land where the Headington Garden Flats is located is about to be renewed and Lady Arabella intends to raise it substantially. Headington Council intends to appeal against raises, in order to keep rent at the Headington Flats affordable for the citizens who live there, but the future is uncertain.

Lady Arabella lives in Headington Manor, a large manor built in 1770, surrounded by a green estate. The Manor felt in disrepair after Lady Arabella’s father, Sir Archibald, suddenly died of a heart attack in 1986 and Arabella was sent to London to complete her education. She also the president of the Headington Heritage Society and wants to preserve the Britishness of Headington”. She is a

THE LADY ARABELLA COMBS-LYON, OBE (Order of the British Empire)
Story card - no image

Age: 65
Occupation: radio broadcaster and writer

Bill started working for BBC Radio Oxford in 1983, and is considered by many to be very opinionated and perhaps somewhat controversial in the field of radio presenting. He is not afraid to speak his mind and allowed his listeners to do the same during his former afternoon phone-in show.
American-born, Heine has lived in Oxford since studying for a postgraduate degree at Balliol College in the late 1960s. In the 1970s and 1980s, he ran both the Penultimate Picture Palace cinema in East Oxford and the Moulin Rouge Cinema (which he later renamed Not The Moulin Rouge) in Headington and is the owner and commissioner of the Shark House. According to Bill, "The shark was to express someone feeling totally impotent and ripping a hole in their roof out of a sense of impotence and anger and desperation... It is saying something about CND, nuclear power, Chernobyl and Nagasaki"

LKF: Bill is a fan of the Oxford County Cricket Club.

BILL HEINE
Story card - no image

Age: 50
Occupation: Mayor of Headington Council

Adele came from Poland in 2005, just after the country’s ascension to the European Union in order to do her PhD in political sciences at Oxford University. Her thesis on the ‘Economics of the Welfare State’ gathered much attention. She then embarked on a meteoric political career, first as a councilwoman representing the area where the Shark House is located and then secretary for social affairs for Headington Council. Under her administration, poverty levels have sunk, thanks to a pioneering poverty alleviation programme coupled with on-the job training. Adele is a Labour mayor, and was disappointed when many of her friends voted to leave the EU. She is troubled by the prospect of having to let the Headington Gardens Flats be redeveloped, due to the renewal in the land’s lease by Lady Arabella Combs-Lyon, the local aristocrat, for whom she has a personal dislike.

LKF: Adele is married to Johanna Levison and they have three adopted children together.

ADELE SEKULA
Story card - no image

Age: 52
Occupation: Dean of a College in Oxford

Professor Varma is a 3rd generation Indian whose family came to the UK in 1947, when India obtained independence. He is the dean of a college where the mayor, Adele Sekula, obtained her PhD. He is socially conservative and has voted Tory since obtaining his naturalization. He also voted leave in the Brexit referendum, because he believes Britain is better alone than “the being patronized by France and Germany”. He is a strong believer of rules and regulations, because he says they make life together easier. His wife, Preetika, is also a scholar, but disagrees with him about pretty much everything. Professor Varma is friends with Edmund Green and is a pub goer.

LKF: Professor Varma dated Lady Arabella when they were younger. He secretly hates Molly Gump, the gossiper. He is Deepanshu Das' second cousin.

PROFESSOR ADVAIT VARMA, PhD
Story card - no image

Age: 45
Occupation: Chief planner of Headington

Walter is a sportive jovial planner married to Desiree, a florist in town. They have two daughters, 10 and 12, who love the Shark House and are delighted when they pass in front of it. He admires Bill Heines, the owner of the shark house for his audacity. He wants to concentrate on the real problems at hand, namely the removal of the Headington Garden Flats, thanks to an enormous increase in the lease of the land owned by the Combs-Lyon family. He is a pub goer and is part of the Headington Cricket Club.

LKF: Walter is the nephew of Molly Gump.

WALTER HARRINGTON
Story card - no image

Age: 46
Occupation: Flower shop owner

Desiree is the niece of Lady Arabella, the local aristocrat, owner of Headington Manor and much of the land where Headington is located. Some say she is actually bound to inherit the land, since Lady Arabella never had children. Contrary to her aunt, Desiree is a free spirit and campaigns for the legalization of cannabis. She is married to Walter Harrington, the chief planner of Headington, and is friends with Saida Ben Mansour and Elisa Harris. Desiree has an unhappy marriage, but is not bound to break free because “it is just too much fuss!”. Her relationship with her aunt, Lady Arabella, is not the easiest, since Arabella finds Desiree too “wild” and would love to see her behave like a lady. Desiree rolls her eyes more than usual when this subject comes up. She voted “remain’ and is a firm supporter of the Green Party.

LKF: Desiree and Bill Heine, the owner of the shark house, are friends and intellectual partners.

DESIREE HARRINGTON
Story card - no image

Age: 35
Occupation: owner of the Peking Duck, a traditional Chinese restaurant in the area

Huazu is a single mother, owner of the Peking Duck restaurant in the area of the shark house, where many people get their food to take-away, including the Harrigtons, Professor Varma, Edmund Green and Bill Heine. Her former husband Huang Li Chen is in prison for domestic violence. Huazu is friends with Alvita Powell, the Jamaican matriarch who reigns over the Headington Garden Flats and has been helped by Saida Ben Mansour, the social worker, as well as Elisa Harris. Elisa has become Huazu’s best friend in the last years. Huazu likes the shark, and can’t understand what the fuss is all about.

LKF: Once a year, the Oxford Cricket Club holds a huge dinner at the Peking Duck. Lady Arabella is also a client, as she often promotes fundraising dinners at her manor.

HUAZU CHEN
Story card - no image

You can invent any character here, including a character that represents you. Your position about the shark should be clearly defined beforehand.

THE JOKER

INFO CARDSISSUE CARDS

Negative Rights

The owner of the shark house has the right to express himself. Nobody can interfere with his right of expression.

Positive rights

The inhabitants of Headington have the right to enjoy their built environment, the beauty of the place and its history, without having this rights interfered by private interests.

Artistic expression

The shark is a work of art, and as such must be protected.

Negative externalities

The shark is ugly and interferes with the aesthetic of a historical street.

Positive externalities

The shark attracts a large number of tourists and is good for business around the area.

Planning permission and legality

The shark had no planning permission and was built against the law, therefore it must be removed.

Historical heritage

The shark interferes with the historical heritage of the area, which is a traditional Victorian street.

Traffic and mobility

The shark produces traffic jams in the area, because of the large number of visitors, and interferes with the quality of life of inhabitants.

Identity

Headington has benefitted from the shark, as it is now known worldwide. The shark is a landmark.

Land value

Because of the new economic activity generated by the shark and the great number of visitors, land value has increased and some inhabitants find it difficult to pay rent.

Pleasure and joy

Headington children are delighted by the shark and find it makes their city more fun. Children are the biggest fans of the shark.

The shark

The Headington Shark (proper name Untitled 1986) is a rooftop sculpture located at 2 New High Street, Headington, Oxford, England, depicting a large shark embedded head-first in the roof of a house.. Bill Heine, a local radio presenter who owned the house until 2016, has said "The shark was to express someone feeling totally impotent and ripping a hole in their roof out of a sense of impotence and anger in face of the system".

The city

Headington is a suburb of Oxford, England. The life of the large residential area is centred upon London Road, the main road between London and Oxford. Headington has a large and growing population. Headington's main employment sectors are medicine, education, and research. In the centre of Headington are a number of shops, pubs, cafés, restaurants, and other services, as well as two university campuses. POP: 17.400 (2018)

UK National Planning Policy Framework (1)

56. The government attaches great importance to the design of the built environment. Good design is a key aspect of sustainable development, is indivisible from good planning, and should contribute positively to making places better for people.

UK National Planning Policy Framework (2)

57. It is important to plan positively for the achievement of high quality and inclusive design for all development, including individual buildings, public and private spaces and wider area development schemes.

UK National Planning Policy Framework (3)

58. Local and neighbourhood plans should develop robust and comprehensive policies that set out the quality of development that will be expected for the area. Such policies should be based on stated objectives for the future of the area and an understanding and evaluation of its defining characteristics.

UK National Planning Policy Framework (4)

Planning policies and decisions should aim to ensure that developments establish a strong sense of place, using streetscapes and buildings to create attractive and comfortable places to live, work and visit.

UK National Planning Policy Framework (5)

Planning policies and decisions should aim to ensure that developments respond to local character and history, and reflect the identity of local surroundings and materials, while not preventing or discouraging appropriate innovation.

UK National Planning Policy Framework (6)

Planning policies and decisions should aim to ensure that developments are visually attractive as a result of good architecture and appropriate landscaping.

UK National Planning Policy Framework (7)

Local planning authorities should consider using design codes where they could help deliver high quality outcomes. However, design policies should avoid unnecessary prescription or detail and should concentrate on guiding the overall scale, density, massing, height, landscape, layout, materials and access of new development in relation to neighbouring buildings and the local area more generally.

UK National Planning Policy Framework (8)

60. Planning policies and decisions should not attempt to impose architectural styles or particular tastes and they should not stifle innovation, originality or initiative through unsubstantiated requirements to conform to certain development forms or styles. It is, however, proper to seek to promote or reinforce local distinctiveness.

UK National Planning Policy Framework (9)

63. In determining applications, great weight should be given to outstanding or innovative designs which help raise the standard of design more generally in the area.

UK National Planning Policy Framework (10)

61. Although visual appearance and the architecture of individual buildings are very important factors, securing high quality and inclusive design goes beyond aesthetic considerations. Therefore, planning policies and decisions should address the connections between people and places and the integration of new development into the natural, built and historic environment.

UK National Planning Policy Framework (11)

64. Permission should be refused for development of poor design that fails to take the opportunities available for improving the character and quality of an area and the way it functions.

Register to download vote results of this PlayDecide game.Register