" ...this is a brave and uncompromising beacon, re-affirming
the status of O'Connell Street as Ireland's principal urban
thoroughfare... It will in effect reinvent the cultural dimension
of the urban space of O'Connell Street."
The Spike, designed by Ian Ritchie Architects of London
chosen from an international field of 205 entries, is a conical spire of rolled stainless steel plate
which tapers from 3 metres in diameter at the base to a 0.1
metre pointed pinnacle at a height of 120 metres. The top 12
metres of the structure will be illuminated from within and
the top 500 mm of the structure will be made of conically cast
optical glass. It is located on O'Connell Street at the
junction with Henry Street and North Earl Street in the position
formerly occupied by Nelson's Pillar.
The structure is founded on reinforced concrete piles.
The structure required a soil excavation of approximately 8
metres diameter by 5 metres depth which involved the
excavation and removal of 750 tonnes of material. The support
piles were installed using specialist-drilling rigs that
drilled down into the underlying rock. A 7-metre diameter
circular base of bronze was laid at the base of the monument
that is flush with the surrounding paved area. There is an underground access and maintenance chamber to accommodate
electrical supplies and drainage equipment.
The Original Design and Technical Summary
During daylight, the light of Ireland's sky over Dublin, the
streetscape and its people will be softly reflected in the stainless
steel surface of the cone monument. From its base up to about
4m, the stainless steel will be polished in an abstract design
to provide a slightly higher reflective surface than the remainder
of the cone. From dusk, the lower two thirds of the monument's
stainless steel surface will be softly lit. The tip of the monument
will also be illuminated.
Height and Elegance
The stainless steel cone will be 120 metres high from ground
level and 3 metres in diameter at its base.
Reflecting the Climate
The upper part of the monument's will gentle sway in direct
response to the wind reflecting the character of its climate,
landscape and people. The monument's tip will sway up to a maximum
of 2.5m under 30 year return extreme wind loading.
The Light Monument is a cone 120 metres high made of rolled
stainless steel sheet. The stainless steel is shot peened to
give a surface that will reflect, softly, the changing light
of the sky, and be maintenance free. (The shot peening is a
two stage process - the first pass with stainless steel beads,
and the second pass with 1mm glass beads).
The Tip of the Monument
The luminous tip of the monument is 12 metres in length. The
material will be a specially patterned perforation of stainless
steel illuminated by a 2kw searchlight within the cone, located
50 metres above ground level. The lamp is accessible for maintenance.
The last 500mm of the tip will be made of optical glass.
The Base of the Monument
The Light Monument cone will pass through a 7 metre diameter
circular base of Kilkenny black marble. The change from white
Wicklow granite to the black marble was made in order to better
present reflections and the pulsed mercury, and to give the
monument a visually stronger base. This will incorporate a raised
Celtic spiral machined into the marble surface. This spiral
will be hand drawn and transferred as a template to the stonemasons.
Mercury will be pulsed onto the surface of the marble from the
perimeter, and will flow towards the cone. There will be five
zones corresponding to the protective glass joints above the
The Synergy between the Tip, the Cone and the Base
The luminous tip, the reflective stainless steel of the cone,
the pulse and reflection of mercury will embrace light as the
essence of the monument.
Human Relationship and Street Landscape
The integration with the surrounding streetscape will be through
the design of its base. The human scale relationship to the
monument will be achieved by people and their reflections, the
fascination of watching pulsed mercury flowing over the black
Here for the Stunned
Gallery of photographs of the completion of the Dublin Spire.
Opens new window
Stunned Weblog archive give a day by day account and photos of the construction of the spike
December 2002 archive
January 2003 archive
News reports on the Spike's construction (includes real
Street Integrated Area Plan
Ian Ritchie Architects