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Quantum Leap

October 2009

A lasting memorial inspired by Darwin's life and ideas ‘Quantum Leap’ was opened in October in Mardol Quay Gardens, near the town's historic heart.

Director of Geological Services, David Hopkins got Aggregate Industries involved with the project an early stage.

“Geology was at the centre of a huge part of Darwin’s life and work. What a wonderful opportunity for us to be able to show our appreciation of Darwin and support this lasting sculpture in his home town – a town where Aggregate Industries is part of the community”

The brief from Shropshire Council for this exciting project was to create the 2nd largest sculpture in the UK, standing an impressive 12 metres tall and weighing in excess of 100 tonnes. A joint effort from the Aggregate Industries business Precast Concrete Solutions, Aggregates and Cement divisions provided support and products to the project as a charity donation. Our aim was to invest in the town of Shrewsbury and offer an impressive reminder of Charles Darwin.

The stone for the project was quarried from Croft and the cement was provided by Paragon Materials. The Precast Solutions team painstakingly supported the design, developed moulding solutions, produced very specific concrete mix designs and developed complex reinforcement designs. The end result being the manufacture and hand finishing of 31 propeller shaped blades, weighing three and half tonnes each, supported through the site erection stage by a complex web of 62 chain hoists and associated support frame work!

Aggregate Industries’ Simon Taylor and Neil Weston were invited to speak at the opening ceremony about why Aggregate Industries chooses to support things like the Quantum Leap, particularly in the current climate, and the challenges that are involved in creating an impressive structure of this scale.

Simon Taylor, Regional Director said “On consideration we have gained a lot of experience working on such a complicated project, but the main gains made were learning about working together in a uniformed approach adding to the understanding that every element contributes to the success”

Andy Dix, Director of our structural business takes up the manufacturing story:

“When we started on this project, we had to consider the obvious advantages of mouldage and the skills deployed to design and create the casting vessels. It was critical to understand the complexity and control required to generate 31 identical units.

“Once the manufacturing department had confirmed that the unit could be made, within very strict dimension parameters, we focused our attention on the concrete, bearing in mind colour, texture, strength, workability, repeatability and aesthetics. Stone supplied from Croft Quarry provided the ideal coloured material whilst our cement division offered the cure and workability required for the project. Early strengths were critical and the mix design offered the benefit of early strip whilst providing the durability of achieving the full strength over a controlled period. Once the formula had been confirmed by the quality control department and the manufacturing and operations team, we were able to produce a controlled repeatable mix.

“Considering the intense detail of the reinforcement cage, it was imperative that a workable slump was achieved. The risk of poker damage to moulds needed to be reduced and the ideal mix would offer minimum manual intervention. A further consideration was air entrapment and reducing the risk of "missing" stone matrix (due to separation or settling) - an even finish was required on all 4 sides of the product (including the trowel face!) Through trials and considerable support from our concrete technologists at Moordale House and the materials supplied, we managed to produce the perfect combination of skills, combination and mouldage.”

The ground around the Quantum Leap structure will be finished off with a Geological Clock path which will make use of some our specialist Asphalt products. Set within the path will be rocks from the twelve geological periods. Five of these rock samples have been supplied from Aggregate Industries’ quarries and collected by geologist Sam Rhodes. For an extra twist - the asphalts will include one using a clear binder and recycled glass chippings that are luminous in the dark.

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Aggregate Industries
Bardon Hall
Copt Oak Road
LE67 9PJ


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