The Spike goes up - click for a gallery of photos

" ...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 Monument
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 marble.

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 marble.

Click 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

RTE News reports on the Spike's construction (includes real video)O'Connell Street Integrated Area Plan

Ian Ritchie Architects

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