Slate Work East

Ackroyd & Harvey

Slate Work East

David Attenborough Building, Cambridge, 2016
Corn Exchange Entrance

Commissioned as part of the development of the David Attenborough Building itself, Ackroyd and Harvey were awarded a major public art commission in response to the refurbishment and redevelopment of this iconic brutalist building, originally designed by Arup Associates in the 1960’s. The work is one of two large-scale exterior works composed of intensively layered slate.

This work is inspired by the architectural and mathematical principles found within myriad forms in nature that grow with the inherent numerical order observed in the 13thcentury and called the Fibonacci sequence. The numbers from this sequence are manifested throughout nature in the forms and designs of many animals and plants and have also been reproduced in various manners in art and architecture.

Architecturally, the line of the design references the ‘golden mean’ or ‘golden section’, a simple ratio theorized as symmetry, proportion and harmony.

The artists have reinterpreted this iconic form in their chosen material of slate, capturing an exquisitely crafted complexity of line that creates a spiral.

Constructed from over thousands of layers of slate and built up to create an intense stratum visual effect, Welsh slate is acknowledged as the finest of its type worldwide; light grey in colour with a subtle reflective surface, the riven cut edge lends a chalky white slant to the grey, and the material used in the artwork is a waste product from the roof tiling industry, enhancing the sustainable ethos of the artwork.