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A Spire – Laidlaw Library

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We were approached by Simon Fujiwara to create his newest work ‘A Spire’, for Leeds University.

The Laidlaw Library is a new site for the University of Leeds, and as part of the project a new piece of public artwork was commission to sit outside the library. Simon Fujiwara’s design was chosen by local members of the arts communities and representatives of the University.

Simon came to talk to us about the project, and we began work on designing the structure and advised him on ways he could achieve his vision within the timescale and budget allowed.


After some initial small-scale samples, which showed Simon the effects we could achieve, he chose the combination of colours and textures required to create the chimney.

We created wooden formers for the 9 panels which make up the structure, then lined them with clay and pressed bricks into this to make the pattern required.

Then we added in combinations of gravel, coal, steel dust and copper to make the bands of colour and sprayed Jesmonite into the moulds, adding in an aluminium frame which gave strength to the panels and provided us with a system to hang each panel from the steelwork.

Once demoulded and with the clay cleaned off the Jesmonite we then treated the surfaces to further colour the steel and copper and patinate it.

The steelwork was welded up and galvanised, and finally we went on site in Leeds to install the work.

We used a spider crane to lift each piece and put it into place, erecting the steelwork first and then hanging and setting each panel into place. An elevated work platform was used to reach the upper levels and allow us to bolt each panel into place, and finally to add the green roof which caps the chimney.