Neil Dawson's Fanfare Sculpture

Neil Dawson's Fanfare Sculpture

How do you extend the design life of a system from 15 days to 15 years? That was the challenge put to our team for the Fanfare project. Originally designed for a 15 day design life the Fanfare sculpture has been revitalised and will become an enduring public art piece with a design life of 15 years. We re-engineered the fan hub and put it to the test – including wind testing at speeds of up to 180km/h. 

Neil Dawson's Fanfare Sculpture

The Fanfare sculpture was initially designed for the Sydney 2004/2005 New Year celebrations. Created by New Zealand's artist Neil Dawson, the sculpture hung off the Sydney Harbour Bridge for 15 days, prior to being gifted to Christchurch, New Zealand in 2005.   

Now destined to be an enduring public art piece the challenge arose to extend the original 15 day design life to 15 years!  Being 20 metres in diameter, 24 metres high, weighing 25 tonnes and has 360 separate 1.5-metre-wide wind-powered “pinwheels” covering its surface, it was no small feat.  The SCAPE Public Art Trust engaged Holmes Solutions to review, develop and implement a refined fan design that would be compliant with the New Zealand loading standard (AS/NZS 1170) and withstand winds up to 180 km/h.  

The existing fan hub and support shaft were proven unsuitable for the new challenge and fan noise was considered to be a serious concern. Our team redesigned the fan hub and support shaft, incorporating an eddy current brake to limit the fan’s rotational speed. Extensive wind testing was carried out in our laboratory and the new design was proven to be up to the task. Solving this challenge means the wonder of the Fanfare will now (safely) delight visitors to Christchurch for years to come.


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Did you know?

  • Neil Dawson has produced many public sculptures throughout New Zealand, Australia, Asia and the UK. These include representing NZ at the Sydney Biennale in 1988, and at Magiciens de la Terre, Georges Pompidou Centre, Paris in 1989. Within NZ his major public works include Chalice in Cathedral Square, Christchurch, and Ferns in Civic Square, Wellington.
  • The highest wind speed ever recorded in New Zealand of 250km/h (155mph) was recorded on top of Mt John.
  • Fanfare is a bold, contemporary, large-scale sculpture with 360 rotating fans that will become Canterbury's iconic visual connection to Christchurch city, located at Chaney’s Corner on Christchurch's Northern Motorway.