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Sousse and Bardo
Russell Rd, Birmingham, B13 8RD
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
George King Architects and Fira
The Sousse and Bardo Memorial, designed by George King Architects, is dedicated to the 31 British nationals who lost their lives in two terrorist attacks in Tunisia in 2015.
At the centre of the memorial is the stainless steel ‘Infinite Wave’ sculpture, formed from 31 individual streams, one for each British national who lost their lives in the attacks. The mirror finish stainless steel is inspired by the fluidity of geometry of flowing water frozen in place.
The landscaping surrounding the sculpture continues the theme of flowing water with a series of Marshalls Callisto granite concentric circles that flow from the centre of the sculpture.
The understated elegance of the paving relied on the skill and experience of the Marshalls Design Team. Graduating into the hillside, the radius design meant that each of the 200 granite blocks were unique and had to be sized specifically to form the flowing arch.
Marshalls’ design team re-modelled the initial concept a number of times to overcome issues with the faces of the concentric circles leaning as the blocks graduated up the ascent. The first solution was to draw the circles from the lowest point, on the outside, to the highest point in the middle, with an equal gradient. This created a peak in the middle where the two halves of the circle met, which did not follow the design intent set out by the architects. The final remodelling saw complex mathematics used to place each unit precisely to soften the shape and create the graceful design that was ultimately installed.
Although each individual piece plays its part in the slowly sweeping top line curve of the units and is what the structure is ultimately judged on visually by visitors; it is the foundation levels which played as much a key part in achieving this. Each individual piece had to be designed to drop at differing rates but give a flat base for ease of installation at foundation level meaning every piece on the structure is unique. Foundation levels were also a crucial part of project delivery. The positioning of the base of each stone had to be just as precise as the visible surface for it to form the clean sweeping curves of the arrangement. This in turn resulted in the production of an easily understood foundation design to assist the contractor’s installation of each stone.
Graduating into the hillside, the radius design meant that each of the 200 granite seating blocks were unique and had to be sized specifically to form the flowing arch. As well as this the 70 different sizes of paving had to be individually designed to create the desired ripple effect.
This project utilised the full extent of the design team’s capabilities, being involved at an early design stage allowed Marshalls to aid both the specifier and the contractor to deliver the client’s vision.