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Engineers highlight sculpture safety risks

Safety fears over the lack of engineering input into large public works of art were raised by structural engineers this week. 

The latest report by Confidential Reporting on Structural Safety  has highlighted concerns about the growing trend towards placing public art near city highways.       

Building regulations do not apply to such structures even though they are big enough to warrant significant engineering input. Promoters may also lack technical knowledge.        

Examples include a city centre lighting scheme, which included unusually shaped steel columns which needed a foundation redesign, a giant animal which originally had no structural frame and a tall landmark feature which swayed to a much greater degree than originally intended.       

The report follows the prosecution of an artist earlier this year after his inflatable sculpture broke free of its moorings and killed two people in 2006 (NCE27 July 2006). 

Readers' comments (1)

  • In late 90's I decided on a career change and took a fine art degree and now create contmporary sculpture. My final degree essay (2004) focussed on the potential stuctural failure of major works of public art. It was not well received (not enought 'art' content I suppose!) . Subsequently I wrote to the university suggesting any student interested in public art work should be made aware of the structural implications but there was no response.It is not surprising that structural failures occur, if art courses contain no reference to the structural implications of public sculpture. Peter Lardi FISTRUCE.

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