Monument reflecting history: Design a public square clock tower using modern technology!


UNI announces the results of the international design competition for the Town Square Clock Tower.

“Time is the most precious thing a man can spend”, this philosophy will remain valid for eternity. Time cannot be stopped or reversed and measuring it is what helps us make sense of the world. Obelisks for shadows, hourglasses with sand, melting candles, all these were the first time-measuring devices. These ingenious methods were used to design the shape of a clock. When the mechanisms appeared, they were integrated into timepieces for precision timekeeping. Pendulum clocks, now obsolete, are still known for their antique aesthetics.

In their day, pendulum clocks significantly reduced the gain and loss of seconds compared to their predecessors, leading to a decline in their use. Although obscure now, these antique watches had charming looks that aroused curiosity and mysticism, compared to today’s clocks. Meanwhile, modern clocks perform their function with ease, precision and efficiency. The intricacies of modern timing devices are as complex as their older counterparts, but since they incorporate technological features such as digitization instead of analog parts. The design is left to the consumer, who can choose from a range of aesthetic features that suit their desire.

The watch market has grown exponentially since its inception. In mass production, a functional, generic version of the clock became popular and the features of the watches were lost. Visual articulation is key to the design in the gaze of its viewer, but particularity and enigma are missed, in the refined versions of the clocks.

The concepts of past and present are derived from time, and each era that has passed has a different story to tell. It is necessary to preserve the essence of old watches in today’s gadgets, to ensure the sustainability of human heritage.

Can we articulate a clock that preserves the essence of past time in a futuristic version?

Any monument, erected in public, must serve a purpose because it is capable of affecting people’s thinking. In any case, the criticism is constant, because a design cannot appease everyone. Instead of focusing on how it is received, we need to design in a way that stimulates… anticipation, conversation and contemplation, etc.

Brief: The challenge is to design a public timepiece that reflects the evolution of man through the millennia.

Basic design principles can be used to play around with, creating a conceptual watch design that uses contextual elements and history, to instill uniqueness. The effect of materials on public spaces is also a major feature that needs to be considered. The goal of the challenge is to understand how the physical device that measures the abstract concept of time can be designed to be a representation of time itself. A public timepiece that presents itself as a philosophical and technological time stamp could become a modern monument of watchmaking, for generations to come.

The competition jury was made up of well-known designers, professionals and academics from around the world. The main jurors for the competitions were:

Yong Ju Lee, Principal, Yong Ju Lee Architecture, South Korea

Zhang Hetian, Founder/Principal, an architect, China

Some of the projects in the Best of competition are:

Winning project: Transcend: the game of the sun

By: Ritu Deshmukh

Description: Transcending the Limits of Time is the attempt to create a public interface that creates the feeling of a public square with the participation of people in that space. The idea behind this design was to connect the historical past of the site to the current generation and to try to link the concept of time through the idea of ​​a pyramid of different proportions.

Jury Comments: The overall design is well developed with concept measurement.

People’s Choice: Transcend Clock Tower, Alexandria

By: Maha Ali, Reem Awad, Sherif Khalil and Mayar Mohamed

Description: This is a clock from Al-Anfoushy district – Alexandria trying to combine all eras in one tower.

Our site is located near Quitbay Citadel, a harbor front fortress built in the 15th century. It is now a museum of the historical battle which attracts many visitors. The site is an artificial platform which currently serves as a viewpoint for the fortress, facing the ocean.

Jury comments: Interesting idea, but too ornamental.

Editors Choice: Transcend Public Square Clock Tower

By: Edalat Sadr & Zahra Babaahmadi

Description: This project is designed to transcend the public square clock tower competition. The tower is designed on a port platform along the beach. The purpose of a clock tower design is to show the time and the clock by rotating the sun around the elements by shading on the scales where the water surface rotates in Roman numerals.

Jury’s comment: The hydraulic idea is unique, but not detailed enough.

Learn more about this competition here.

United brings together the largest number of design challenges in the world organized by the world’s best academicians and architectural professionals. With over 200,000 registered members, UNI connects the academic and professional spheres of architecture through a unique web-based knowledge-sharing platform.

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