Royal Army Flying Museum


The client:

The Museum of Army Flying in Stockbridge, Hampshire, tells the story of British Army Flying from the inception of the very first units in 1878 through the World Wars right up to the modern day.

Located on the edge of an active airfield, it is an attraction that immerses the visitor in history, aviation and the role British Army aviators have played in defending our nation.

The Museum Project Board set about creating the British Army Flying Memorial to act both as a way to commemorate the 5,127 heroes that died in active service and of giving visitors a humbling place to reflect on the sacrifices made.

Having appointed Hampshire County Council Architects Service to design a memorial, the committee approached us with the challenge of using printed precast concrete panels to create an imprinted concrete commemoration.

The brief:

The team at GCHQ was briefed with the creation of a cenotaph to commemorate 5,127 British heroes making this brief one of national significance.

The resulting memorial needed to be impressive, sensitive, thought provoking, a place of reflection and to draw visitors in to pay respects to each and every one of the brave heroes.

The brief for us was to use printed precast concrete as a method of accurately etching the names of each service man or woman into the surface of the concrete.

Technically, given the sheer levels of intricacy and accuracy required to etch so many words and letters into a surface at one time, we knew this represented the biggest ever test to our casting process.

Indeed, it represents the most demanding printed precast concrete manufacturing challenge in the UK to date.

The installation:

The architectural vision for the memorial was to create a circular cenotaph that draws the visitor in, surrounds them with the scale of the sacrifice, and makes an equally impressive feature from the sky above where the Army air crew loved to be.

We were tasked with the creating of 39 curved 2.5m by 0.8m imprinted concrete panels with a requirement for crystal clear clarity on every name. The designs were brought to life through the use of a patented membrane supplied by Chryso UK. It was then chemically etched onto the curved concrete panels. Believe it or not – that wasn’t even the hard bit!

In order to deliver on the architectural vision, we faced the additional challenge of executing our printed concrete process while creating the large curved panels at the same time.

The results:

Following a formal unveiling led by Field Marshall Michael Walker, Baron Walker of Aldringham – the memorial is now open.

With a huge amount of planning, the production was executed to vision. We're delighted that the panels look absolutely perfect and that the installation is a fine tribute to previously un-commemorated British heroes.

Printed precast concrete panels allowed for boundaries to be pushed and offered a cutting-edge way to engrave the names of many war heroes into a cenotaph, simultaneously and cost-effectively.

This pioneering project is thought to be the first of its kind in the UK and it is believed that printed concrete has never previously being used to display so much text.

Its completion challenges the perception that concrete is bland, uninspiring and unimaginative.

Most importantly of all, the result is a fitting tribute to some of our nation’s heroes and we are delighted with the finished installation.

The insight:

With names being etched into the concrete during the printing process, printed precast concrete represented a way of listing numerous names without the lengthy lead time associated with professional engraving.

This project is testament to the fact that concrete is functional, versatile and can be utilised highly accurately.

With the potential to cast virtuallyany design and any amount of text into printed precast concrete at varying depths, the technology is ideal for memorials, commemorative openings, celebratory concrete art walls or heritage projects.

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