Head above Water, London

Head above Water, London

London United Kingdom Head above Water Time to change Induline GW-310

For the eighth edition of designjunction, part of the London Design Festival, Steuard Padwick constructed a nine-meter-tall head made from renewable, sustainable, cross-laminated timber panels. It was displayed on the riverside walkway, directly on the River Thames in London. The head is age- and gender-neutral and is a symbol of hope, bravery and compassion. It also represents positivity for those confronting mental health issues, and the people who support them. The head was adorned with some 48 metres of LED lighting, whose colour could be changed in real time with the aid of a Twitter hashtag. Depending on how people engaged with the project, the head would light up in a specific colour. A total of 14 moods could be represented in colour. For instance, the hashtag “love” lit up the head in blue, red and pink, while “angry” was reflected in dark blue and purple. The statue was designed in collaboration with the “Time to Change” campaign, which aims to eradicate mental health-related stigma.

Reference identification data
Construction project:
Wood preservation Wood preservation - preventive / controlling
Building type:
Furniture / art objects
Other public buildings
Short description
This wooden sculpture of a human head floated above the Thames, where it was exposed to the ravages of the weather. Since it was only on display for the two-week run of the design festival, long-term wood preservation was not necessary. Moisture protection was applied, and the decision was taken to dispense with a finishing coat. In addition to the protective properties, sustainability was also vitally important.
9 m Höhe
Site address:
Data sheet:
Report_37_Head above Water_121297.pdf
Date / completion:
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Sample of products or systems used


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Further references

The structure showed cracks in some places, for which there were different causes. Improved statics and higher load capacity were achieved by stiffening the structures, frictional connection of the disturbed foundation and decoupling the components gate, passage hall and gate houses components. Particularly on the western side, intense blackening of the rock surface had built up, which was strongly interlocked with the ground. The deposits were composed of a mixture of soot and plaster. The cleaning process carried out in 1990 with the help of water could only result in a superficial cleaning. In 2002, the newly developed method of particle beam cleaning and cleaning by laser made it possible to remove soot and plaster without destroying the original surface.
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On the façade surfaces of Kaispeicher A, there was a lot of efflorescence and lime aging, both signs of penetrating moisture. The damage patterns indicated a lack of frost resistance as well as no protection against driving rain. The listed façade required extensive frost and moisture protection, but was not allowed to undergo any visual changes.
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