Sousse and Bardo Memorial
The Sousse and Bardo Memorial – an outstanding monument dedicated to the 31 British nationals who lost their lives and all those affected by the two terrorist attacks in Tunisia in 2015 – has been completed.
The project, designed by George King Architects, and carried out by main contractors Blakedown Landscapes, was commissioned by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and sits within Birmingham’s Grade II listed Cannon Hill Park.
The memorial, entitled ‘Infinite Wave’ was opened in March 2019 by Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex, during an unveiling ceremony attended by approximately 300 guests.
George King Principal of George King Architects said: “The design brief was quite open and loose and was developed in conjunction with the families of those who lost their lives. The basic themes were those of water and the continuity of life. We were also influenced by the topography of the memorial’s tranquil location within the park and the fact that we wanted a sculpture which could be viewed through 360 degrees. Great attention to every detail of the design was integral to the quality of the piece.”
The design was inspired by the fluid geometry of flowing water, frozen in place, as if time has stood still at the moment of the attacks. At the centre of the memorial is the ‘Infinite Wave’ sculpture, which recreates a single wave formed from 31 individual streams, one for each British national who lost their lives in the attacks.
Each stream is formed from a graceful twisting and turning stainless steel tube.
What at first appear to be 31 individual threads are all in fact part of a single, much longer continuous stream, eventually looping back in on itself and beginning again. The form of the overall wave has been carefully designed to be appreciated from many angles.
In plan it is a pure circular form, a symbol of continuity. When approached from the front, the sculpture forms a simple arch which welcomes visitors inside. When viewed diagonally, the form shifts to create the mathematical symbol of infinity, ∞.
As visitors move further around to view the sculpture from the side, the form shifts again to create a pair of wings, a symbol of peace and hope. The names of the 31 people who died have been engraved onto each tube. Placed within the tubes are metal capsules containing written messages from families to their loved ones.
The landscape surrounding the sculpture continues the theme of water. It is conceived as a series of granite ripples that flow in concentric circles from the centre of the sculpture.
These ripples continue beyond the memorial in the form of planted borders containing wildflowers and bulbs specifically chosen to bloom each year to coincide with the anniversary of the attacks.
George King said: “We are incredibly honoured to have been chosen to create this memorial. Throughout the design and construction process, we have been acutely aware of the significance that this memorial has for the families who have lost loved ones, the survivors and the wider community. We put them and their experiences very much at the heart of the design concept.
“Together with our team of expert consultants, fabricators and contractors, we have focused on translating our unique design into reality with a focus on craftsmanship, quality and fine detailing in order to create a meaningful place of reflection and contemplation within the beautiful setting of Cannon Hill Park.”
The sculpture was made in Darwen, Lancashire by specialist architectural metalwork fabricator m-tec. m-tec’s Senior Design Engineer, Jeff Kinsley describes the process:
“The sculpture was manufactured in three sections – two end sections that were fabricated and polished as a complete assembly and a middle section that was a series of individual polished tubes that connected the ends – we used this method due to the physical size of the sculpture and the practicalities of delivery and installation.
“Challenges included maintaining the structural integrity of the fabrication, the need to transport and install the sections without causing any damage to the sculpture because of the irregular shape of each section, the positioning on site so that the middle sections fitted correctly, and also the polishing of the sculpture both in the workshop and on site to a mirror finish.”
George King Architect’s design was chosen by an independent panel following an open competition and in consultation with family members of those affected by the two attacks.