London-based practice George King Architects recently won a competition for a major sculptural project in the Welsh countryside. The precise location is Flint, in the county of Flintshire. The sculpture is in the form of an iron ring, incorporating a circular steel walkway, with a diameter of 30 metres and a maximum height of seven metres.
The iron ring will be located above the River Dee, near Flint Castle, which was built in the late 12th century and was the first in a series of castles forming an ‘Iron Ring’ of fortifications raised by the English king Edward I in his attempts to subjugate the Welsh. Today, the castle is a national monument. ‘The sculpture will take a balanced form, with one part buried in the ground and the rest projecting into the air, to demonstrate the unstable nature of the Crown.’ notes George King.
The large, rusted ring is intended to express the relationship between medieval monarchies and the castles they built. Not all local inhabitants are happy with the idea, however, and a petition opposing the sculpture is now circulating. In the view of its opponents, the iron ring symbolises the oppression of the Welsh people at the hands of Edward I, king of England from 1272 to 1307.
But it was the impact and creativity of the sculpture that won the favour of the competition jury. George King has an impressive CV, including work with firms of the calibre of Zaha Hadid Architects.
His practice has been awarded a budget of 705,726 euros to create the monument. It will be made of weathering steel, an alloy which rapidly forms a layer of oxidation which protects it against further corrosion by atmospheric agents, making it much more resistant than other steels exposed to fresh or salt water. And with its high copper, nickel and chromium content, weathering steel acquires a distinctive orangey patina with reddish nuances.
Image: Arquitectura Viva