RIBA acknowledges the importance of 'The Integration of Time'

For architects, it makes it so much more than just a clock. . .

Posted on 04 February, 2015


Architectural integration might not be the first phrase that people think springs to mind at a clockmakers, yet it’s an ever more important consideration at the design and concept stage.

Another one is public realm; providing a legacy piece that people can enjoy for generations, a piece not just telling the time but something that in its own right adds benefit and value to what is being created.

The beauty of an integrated clock is that it is specifically created not only to tell the time but to reflect its surroundings, to provide a central or focal point - something to meet under, talk about, be proud of. Or in one case, shoot past at 100mph.

In a previous RIBA blog post we ask the reader to consider a world without time: how life could function from the very minimal (waking and getting up for work) to the very running of nations; along with the extraordinary concept that someone could look at the stars and sun and tell the time, before creating a physical clock that revolutionised the world.

Continuing to capture that sense of awe remains central to what we do at Smith of Derby, and recent projects have shown how designers and architects have looked at integrating clocks into their projects. That doesn’t necessarily mean contemporary – it can just as effectively be conservation and restoration.

When Bremont, the world famous British watch brand, was named Official Time Partner to Donington Park, Smith of Derby was commissioned to create a large projecting clock to sit over the pit lane, to be seen by millions of race enthusiasts all over the world, and so provide a permanent reminder of its partnership with the race track.

Clockmakers created aircraft style fixers around the drum and bezels to reflect Bremont’s aviation DNA, and the support bracket of the clock was designed to emulate the wishbone suspension of formula racing cars, to reflect its location.

Whilst the Bremont clock was a creation from scratch, just as effective is taking an old clock and making it new again. These sorts of jobs are fascinating because the clocks, being part of the local area’s heritage, already have a story to tell yet for various reasons have fallen into a state of disrepair or even, in the case of the iconic clocks on the former Co-op building in Newcastle-Upon-Tyne, a Grade II listed building and one of the city’s most famous landmarks, stolen by scrap metal thieves.

Clockmakers had to intricately create a complete replica, containing the most modern technology, based on old photographs.
Recently, Smith of Derby rebuilt a magnificent projecting clock for the jewellers Chisholm Hunter to mark the opening of their new store in Bromley, Kent.

The clock had stood on the High Street since the 1920s and had become a famous spot for marriage proposals but had been removed by a previous owner, and when Chisholm Hunter bought the shop felt that it was an integral part of the building.

The challenge was to recreate the clock, which was heavily corroded, to its original glory for future generations to enjoy.

Restoration work included stripping and shotblasting the entire frame and caseworks, and replacing the corroded framework and mounting. The clock casing and dials were gilded in 23.5 carat gold leaf, new LED lighting was installed along with a new movement system.

And it is not only clocks that architects require – as part of the redevelopment of Jackson Tower at Brighton College recently, Smith of Derby built a stunning sundial for the south side of the tower, to compliment a new clock it created for the north side.

Architects are thinking more and more about the importance of a central piece to their design, and in particular how time can help convey their vision.

Central to all these jobs is architectural integration; working closely with architects from the outset to put their concept at the heart of the time piece design, so that it lies at the heart of their creation.

For architects, it makes it so much more than just a clock.

Contact us here to hear how a bespoke timepiece can set your next project apart.

To view the full article on RIBA's website, please click here.

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