Imperial College London researchers have completed a research project, which explores the use of rock engineering techniques for cultural heritage conservation. The findings may enable a dismantled Henry Moore sculpture, The Arch, be re-erected in Kensington Gardens.
The engineers, in collaboration with the International Drawing Institute, Glasgow School of Art and Tate, carried out a detailed analysis of the Arch to see whether computer simulation and analysis techniques could be used to understand and preserve complex artefacts that experience structural problems.
The Arch, a six metre tall sculpture modelled on sheep collar bones joined together, was created in 1980 by Henry Moore and was dismantled into its seven component pieces in 1996 because of structural instabilities which caused it to be unsafe.
The team tested rock samples and used laser-scanning technologies to examine the large dismantled stone blocks and researchers gathered data, which was used to generate 3D computer simulations of the sculpture for analysis. By modelling how the structural stresses exerted pressures on the Arch, they found its unusual shape, the poor location of the structural joints which held the blocks together, and the use of brittle travertine stone all contributed to its unsteadiness.
The new proposed method to stabilise the Arch includes attaching the rock legs and top section together with fibreglass bolts and dowels and placing the structure on a base of speciality reinforced concrete.