Southern Stand Memorial
The New Zealand memorial commemorates the enduring bonds between New Zealand and the United Kingdom, our shared sacrifice during times of war and our continued path together in times of peace. Situated on a corner of Hyde Park in London, the memorial is also a tribute to our cultural heritage and proclaims our distinct national identity.
Initial plans for a significant memorial began in 2003, and conceptual designs began to be compiled by an expert panel the following year. Sculptor Paul Dibble was commissioned to create the monumental bronzes, in close conjunction with Athfield Architects in Wellington and London.
Consisting of sixteen bronze monoliths of varying heights, ‘Southern Stand’ is set out across a grassy slope and evokes an image of soldiers in procession. Of these bronze standards, six facing due south are separated from the rest, and crowned with crosses of fibre-optic light to emulate the Southern Cross constellation.
To design and provide a visually stunning lighting system to top the selected bronze standards and be clearly discernible at night-time; that would accentuate the significance of the memorial and create necessary illumination but in the spirit of remembrance; that would offer acceptable light levels in a non-obtrusive and sensitive way while allowing for practicality.
Several obstacles presented themselves immediately that had to be overcome:
- Lighting needed to be integrated within the physical constraints of the sculptural design
- The lighting design needed to operate according to London bylaws on pedestrian public areas
- Power access was from a remote supply
- Providing a sufficiently bright light effect while adhering to the client’s wish for an energy-efficient power source
- Designing and sourcing a suitable light concept without the benefit of viewing the site of the memorial
To work within the overall design, lighting had to play a bigger part than providing mere illumination. It had to emphasize the solemnity of the monument while simultaneously addressing the need for practical area lighting.
The lighting design was therefore two-fold: use LED or similar light sources to achieve the visual effect of star-like crosses atop the selected standards, while spreading a uniform light across the whole memorial area at ground level. This two-pronged approach allowed for some artistic flair while providing for the requisite requirements of a well-used public space.
By using lighting strategically, both goals could be achieved and would enhance the functionality of the monument while enforcing the symbolism and sanctity of the whole design.
Initial experiments showed that a standard LED light source would not be able to provide an even light distribution as required for the sculptures, therefore a search was undertaken for an alternative.
A custom-built system of fibre-optic lighting run by LED was considered appropriate and a prototype was quickly commissioned for testing. The subsequent results were better than expected and convinced the design team that a solution had been found.
The Dibble Art Company and Athfield Architects designed a separate bronze shallow casting that was screwed to the top of each selected standard, removing any installation issues at the outset. Within this was laid 4 x LED 1w diodes in fibre-optic strands and sealed in UV-resistant (non-yellowing) silicone. At each end, the power feed wrapped under the star-shaped casting and conjoined in the centre to descend down a bronze conduit to one side of the cross.
Given the extremely low voltage (5V), it was possible to provide power to all six sculptures in series using just one LED power supply situated remotely from the memorial. By drawing a mere 80 milliamps, each system was an innovative blend of technologies that not only produced a seamless radiating glow, but also satisfied the requirement for an energy-efficient light source.
To reinforce this effect, LED was also used to provide an uplight effect from recessed luminaires offset from the sculptures. Twelve high-quality 1w bronze in-ground fittings were sourced locally and positioned to not only allow the sculptures to be visible from the pathway, but also to provide a different visual perspective from each angle.
As both a memorial to our fallen and a tribute to a lasting relationship, the Southern Stand is an intelligently and sensitively designed structure that balances a reverence for the past with an assertion of our cultural individuality.
By employing a unique lighting design based on hybrid technology, the dual approach of creating visual impression within the confines of low energy consumption was successfully achieved drawing minimal power and satisfying the requirements for the memorial while adhering to lighting requirements for a public area.
In addition the 50,000 hour longevity of the fibre-optic lamp type and the LED uplights ensures associated maintenance costs are extremely low and comparably rare.
The Southern Stand will endure as a lasting iconic testament and will remain well illuminated for many years to come, appropriately lit with selected energy-efficient luminaires and harmoniously positioned to ensure a truly dramatic effect.