It is 2012 and every year a different car company sponsors a centrepiece sculpture for the Goodwood Festival of Speed. This is the sixteenth in a row that Gerry Judah has designed and produced, and this year it is bigger, more daring and beautiful, and more spectacular than ever before.
The sponsor this year is Lotus Cars. The sculpture itself is six historic Lotus Formula 1 cars driving on a winding road that has been tied into the shape of a half-hitch, or trefoil, knot. The road length is 150 metres, and the whole installation weighs 60 tonnes. There are six classic Formula 1 cars: the Lotus 32B (Jim Clark 1965), Lotus 49B (Graham Hill 1968), Lotus 72E (Emerson Fittipaldi 1973), Lotus 79 (Mario Andretti 1978), Lotus 99T (Ayrton Senna 1987) and the latest Lotus F1 Team challenger.
The sculpture is a triangular section, each of the three sides is what we call a continuously variable curve developable surface. This means that we start with flat sheet metal curves that can be rolled up and joined into three dimensional luxurious shapes. The result is a lightweight, extremely strong and rigid thin-shell structure, with no internal framework or core. Inside it is all empty space and what you see is the structure itself. The sculpture is 98% empty space. In automobile terms this would be a monocoque body, a tribute to the legendary designer and Lotus founder Colin Chapman’s introduction of monocoque chassis construction to automobile racing.
What we have here is a technique for building freeform shapes. In the future we expect that lots of structures will be built like this, from bridges and large span buildings, to roller coasters, but before that we will be building some even more spectacular sculptures.