Star of Calendonia / Cecil Balmond and Charles Jencks

Star of Calendonia / Cecil Balmond and Charles Jencks
Courtesy of Balmond Studio

Cecil Balmond of Balmond Studio and Charles Jencks have developed the winning design, Star of Caledonia, for the border crossing between England and Scotland at Gretna. Aiming for a 2014 completion date (just in time for the Commonwealth Games hosted in Glasgow) the design of this contemporary landmark sculpture will draw inspiration from Scotland’s scientific heritage and will feature a series of S-curves marking the cross of St. Andrew.

Balmond has been chosen to work with internationally renowned architectural critic, land artist and designer Charles Jencks to realise an ambitious large scale project of integrated sculptural form and landscape that celebrates and explores the border crossing into Scotland at Gretna. The form of the Star was born out of an idea by Balmond to capture the powerful energy and magnetic pull of Scotland. Balmond’s design pays particular homage to Scottish innovation and its ground breaking contribution to modern life, from the invention of TV, telephone and penicillin, to the discovery of electromagnetism by Maxwell.

Courtesy of Balmond Studio

Cecil Balmond explains: “The Star of Caledonia is a Welcome; its kinetic form and light paths a constant trace of Scotland’s power of invention. And I am delighted to be collaborating with Charles Jencks to create an integrated idea of this concept in both landscape and form.”

Creative director Charles Jencks describes the work: “Crossing the border to Scotland, across the River Sark, is now a passage obscured under a bridge by cars travelling at speed. Instead of marking this with motorway signs we are using a landform and sculpture that pulls together the adjacent site, the distant hills and the Solway.

Nestled into the curving mound and springing from it is Cecil Balmond’s whirling creation. In one sense, it is a scintillating piece of calligraphy seen against the sky which will signify various meanings as you approach – starburst, energy, St. Andrew’s Cross, thistle, Highland Dancing, etc – or, if you look at the right place, the ‘map of Scotland’. It all depends from where you see it in the landscape. These meanings emerge dramatically as you walk the site, but they are also taken up by the landform and embedded in its curves.

Over the next several months Cecil and I will work to make these aspects more resolved, we respect each other, and are both inspired by the challenge of coming up with a set of dynamic elements fitting for Scotland – we hope!”

Regional Impact

Courtesy of Balmond Studio

The Gretna Landmark is an important flagship project for the Gretna area and has the potential to be a powerful catalyst for the development of Gretna-Lockerbie-Annan as a national gateway to Scotland. More than five million vehicles travel north and south each year, yielding a potential audience of ten million people who will be able to experience the England-Scotland Border Crossing.

The initiative is supported by Dumfries & Galloway Arts, the community of Gretna, Gretna Green and Springfield, Alasdair Houston of the Gretna Green Group, Dumfries & Galloway Council, Scottish Enterprise, Creative Scotland and the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority.

The project is being developed and produced by Wide Open (South Scotland) Ltd for The Gretna Landmark Trust. The next step for The Gretna Landmark is to secure funding for the further design and implementation of the Star of Caledonia, hopefully in time for the Commonwealth Games in 2014.

About this author
Cite: Kelly Minner. "Star of Calendonia / Cecil Balmond and Charles Jencks" 23 Jul 2011. ArchDaily. Accessed . <> ISSN 0719-8884

You've started following your first account!

Did you know?

You'll now receive updates based on what you follow! Personalize your stream and start following your favorite authors, offices and users.