"Menger Pyramid" 2011 Coláiste Choilm, Tullamore, Co Offaly

"Menger Pyramid" 2011

Coláiste Choilm, Tullamore, Co Offaly. Cast concrete & stainless steel, varying dimensions, 2.4m/7'11'' tall

"Menger Pyramid" 2011 is a large eye-catching contemporary concrete sculpture at the front of the new school buildings of Coláiste Choilm in Tullamore. It is located outside the secondary entrance, as this is the "main entrance" for the majority of students and staff.

The large artwork is constructed from fifty-nine individual components of cast concrete, securely attached together with stainless steel dowels, and a welded stainless steel structure built in two sections that are invisibly bolted together.

Concrete was chosen as the main material to complement the design of the new buildings. Concrete is also very robust, an ideal material for outdoor sculpture and in particular ideal for the daily interaction with the students. From a cost perspective the use of concrete has allowed the development of a very large-scale artwork that would not have been possible using other materials within the available budget. Three large portions of the concrete are polished to a smooth and reflective finish. Six concrete seating cubes with polished upper surfaces accompany the sculpture. The stainless steel section provides a bright pinnacle to the artwork.

The sculpture is based on a 3D fractal called the Menger Sponge, described by Karl Menger in 1926. The sculpture is the shape of the negative spaces removed to create Menger's Sponge, its opposite form, an "anti-sponge" or perhaps "coral". I have tilted it at 45 degrees in two different axes, to reveal a pyramidal form, creating a dynamic between the sculpture and the vertical lines of the new building.

One aspect of the sculpture that immediately appeals to the students is that the pattern created is directly and easily comprehensible. It is visually obvious that the reverse shape, the Menger Sponge, follows the same rules. Patterns of a Sierpinski Carpet, the 2 dimensional pattern from which the Menger Sponge is developed, decorate the seating cubes around the sculpture. As far as my research can reveal this is the first public sculpture to be based on the Menger "Anti-Sponge"!

Image Details

  • "Menger Pyramid" on a wet day
  • A closer view
  • One of the seating cubes with polished top
  • Artist with the sculpture