Following the success of an international architectural competition the design concept moved away from the anachronistic line of formal gates across the important avenue to Buckingham Palace known as Constitution Hill and towards a more inclusive concept revolving around a more dynamic space for visitors to gather whilst respecting the pageantry and ceremony of the route of HM The Queen, the royal family and military events such as The Changing of the Guard. The design includes four tall Portland stone piers topped with bronze urns that are lit on ceremonial occasions. Located close by in the park is an open stone pavilion, in the form of an Indian ‘Chattri’. The monument recognises the sacrifice of 5 million men and women of the commonwealth who served in the two world wars of the twentieth century.
‘‘...Memorial Gates on Constitution Hill to recognise the enormous contributions and sacrifices made in both World Wars by the peoples of the Indian Sub-Continent, Africa and the Caribbean...’’
Early Day motion, Parliament,
Tabled 17th July 2001
COMMONWEALTH MEMORIAL GATES,
CONSTITUTION HILL, LONDON
The Commonwealth memorial gates piers are set our in a square grid formation forming a perfect square in plan. The addition of the open stone pavilion, set out using Islamic geometry principles together forms a golden rectangle in plan. The project includes the bench plinths that lists the campaigns, the bronze street lights and bollards as well as the highway design as well, set out in the form of a gothic fan vault and laid in large cubes of Indian Granite. The quotation ‘Our future is greater than our past’ by Ben Okri is carved into the northeast pier and visible to passers-by.
‘‘We are guardians of a precious flame, and it is our duty not only to keep it burning brightly but to keep it replenished for the decades ahead.’’
HM The Queen,
at the formal inauguration of the Memorial Gates, 2002
The memorial is not just a commemorative structure but an important focal point in ceremonial London. It is a finely crafter work of architecture with elements in Portland Stone, bronze and granite with railings, lamps, inscriptions and all fitted to precise highway requirements and in a deeply historic landscape setting.
The Stone Federation of Great Britain: Craftsmanship Award 2002
The Worshipful Company of masons of London, 2003, Commendation