a Landmark Public Art Concepts for City University
Landmark public sculpture concept Landmark public sculpture concept Stack sculpture, alternating between stone and polished stainless steel boulders

The Clockmaker's College

Location: Northampton Square, London
Client: City University

Project Requirements: As part of a modernisation and refurbishment programme, City University would like to commission a piece of public art to sit outside the front doors to its main Northampton Square campus.

This piece of public art needs to do several things:

  • provide a wayfinding and landmark function
  • provide seating and a communal gathering area
  • become an unofficial symbol of City University and the site for photo opportunities when students graduate

The client met David Harber at Chelsea Flower Show 2012 when it was established that in its early days, City University was a Clockmaking School. The brief quickly took shape: a contemporary looking piece was desirable but it should also hark back to City's clock making roots and engineering prowess.

The Proposed Concepts: the first concept which was explored was a stack of boulders, alternating stone and stainless steel. It was felt that this was too contemporary, not giving enough attention to the clockmaking and engineering components of the brief.

The next two proposed concepts were variations of an elegant, contemporary sundial, one with a nodding top pendulum which also acts as a clock.

Both would provide seating, serve as a landmark and also act as a Gnomon – the central shadow casting stick of a sundial – casting a shadow onto the ground.

The nodding top pendulum also hints at the piece's function as a clock and a clockface could be included in the vertical surfaces of the piece. Visually, the polished sphere at the top will give a beautiful 360° view of the front of both the building and Northampton Square.


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