The Solar Gate, a public artwork as a sundial, was commissioned to mark Hull’s year as UK City of Culture in 2017, and is now lighting up the city centre’s Queens Park. Light shows will maintain the Solar Gate’s fascination at night, but it is during the day that it’s real magic will be revealed. The Solar Gate is designed so that, on the anniversary of key events in the city’s history, the sun’s rays will fall on steel plates in the grounds commemorating each of them. For instance, on 23rd April in 1642, King Charles I was denied entry to the City, a key event in the English Civil War that led to the fall of the monarchy.
The project is shortlisted in the Structural Artistry category in the Structural Awards, held in London on the 16th November. Oasys are sponsoring the category.
The sculpture is fabricated from thin 4mm steel plates. The design team resisted advice to revert to a skeleton structure that was clad. The biomimetic technique used in its fabrication – shell lace structure – was invented by architects Tonkin Liu and has been developed in collaboration with Arup over the past eight years. Structural lessons from mollusc shells help do away with excess structure where it’s not needed. Arup’s engineers resolved the complicated geometry with Oasys GSA, using curvature, corrugation and distortion to add strength. The base is only 900mm wide. No additional structure is required internally making the artwork completely self-supporting.
Local fabricator Pearlgreen Engineering to deliver the bespoke metalwork.