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Planning rules bring a halt to Gormley project

Sculptor Antony Gormley's latest project to create a vast 50m-tall sculpture in Dublin's docklands, faces delays of up to a year after hitting problems with the City's planning rules.

Gormley, the man behind Gateshead's famous Angel of the North, won the design competition to create a piece of art for the Dublin docks' redevelopment last August. But his favoured location is outside the development zone so is likely to be contested by locals.

"I want the piece to be in a specific place, but this carries with it planning difficulties," he told NCE. The work will be sited near the iconic Sean O' Casey Bridge.

Gormley told NCE that he had already doubled the Dublin Docklands Development Agency (DDDA) prize money to ú1.4M with EU grants.

He is working with Tristan Simmonds from Arup's advanced geometry unit. Simmonds contributed to Anish Kapoor's work 'Marsayas', which filled London's Tate Modern turbine hall in 2002 and 2003.

"We are just about to go into planning, so we will have a better idea of timelines then. There is a 75%-80% chance that the project will be contested," said Simmonds.

"The DDDA has rights over a specific area, and the site Antony wants is just outside. This means the plans have to go through full planning, and it requires only one person to make an appeal for there to be a delay," he said.

Loretta Lambkin from the DDDA said that the process could have been quicker if the sculpture had been within the development area.

"There are three areas we oversee. In these areas we have allowed for public art and we would effectively be applying to ourselves. This will mean a longer process to go through," she said.

Gormley and Simmonds will take the project to detailed designs in December or January, when the planning application will be submitted, and then designs will be put to tender in February or March.

The sculpture will be a box section "with cast rods," explained Simmonds. "Each is unique. We are currently designing them for digital fabrication."

As with many of Gormley's works, the piece will be based on the human form, but will be influenced by the work of Irish theoretical physicist Professor Denis Weaire, whose work examines bubble matrices, or 'foam' of minimal surface area.

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