Project Description


Public Space Memorial
April 2014

Memorial redesign proposal for Public Spaces class with Prof. Howard Davies

Inspired from Copernicus’ model of the “Revolution of the Celestial Spheres”, this memorial is an artistic rendition of the 6 planets in his revolutionary heliocentric model of the universe. It is a redesign of the Copernicus Monument at the entrance of Montreal’s Planetarium, originally placed in Chaboillez Square.

In his publication, On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres in 1543, he described the movement of these 6 planets around the sun in the following way: “[The sphere of the fixed stars] is followed by the first of the planets, Saturn, which completes its circuit in 30 years. After Saturn, Jupiter accomplishes its revolution in 12 years. The Mars revolves in 2 years. The annual revolution takes the series’ fourth place, which contains the earth…together with the lunar sphere as an epicycle. In the fifth place Venus returns in 9 months. Lastly, the sixth place is held by Mercury, which revolves in a period of 80 days.”

Inspired by this passage, my memorial is an artistic rendition (rather than a scientifically accurate one) of the revolution of spheres as he saw it. I thus focus on translating the motion and revolution duration of the six planets of his model. Those orbits are not nested into one another but rather disposed around a sphere, in the fashion of the armillary sphere and with strips of fixed stars revolving in different inclinations.


Accessible Inner Space

The spherical limit of the memorial has a 10 feet diameter, which is large enough to allows people to walk into the inner space and even use the rings as sitting arrangements. It’s thus a memorial that people are encouraged to touch and interact with, as opposed to a statue that is only meant to be looked at and thereby becomes invisible to the regular visitor. As such, people get to interact with tangible elements that refer to Copernicus’ work and memory, which accomplishes the purpose of a memorial in a more engaging way.

Bronze Structure

Just like the original Copernicus memorial, this redesign is also made of cast bronze. The rings representing the revolution of planets are made of brushed bronze whereas the surrounding strips representing the cosmos are made of the textured bronze. The ground is made of stone to be integrated with the site on which the structure is placed.

Walking Into a Bubble

The spherical shape of the memorial is not truncated by the flat ground. Rather, the ground curves in to accommodate the sphere and create an unusual space to walk in and attract people to come experience being in a “cosmic bubble”.

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