Head Above Water: PEFC-certified timber helps to challenge mental health stigma

Visitors to London’s South Bank last month saw a dramatic change to the city’s skyline, all in support of the UK mental health and the anti-stigma campaign, Time to Change.

Head Above Water: PEFC-certified timber helps to challenge mental health stigma

10 October 2018 Sustainable construction

As part of the annual London Design Festival, and designjunction, Head Above Water was a breath-taking, 9 metre high sculpture by British designer, Steuart Padwick. This piece of public art sought to stimulate the discussion to eradicate mental health-related stigma and discrimination.

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Head Above Water

A model of sustainable design

The Head Above Water in London

The project used precision engineered, renewable and sustainable PEFC-certified cross-laminated timber (CLT) panels supplied by StoraEnso. Installation was carried out by structural engineering experts Ramboll, making Head Above Water a model of sustainable, smart design and build.

“Head Above Water highlights the importance of recognizing mental health issues and also demonstrates the versatility of CLT as a construction material,” said Alun Watkins, National Secretary of PEFC UK, one of the sponsors of the installation.

“I am delighted that PEFC UK was able to lend its support to such an imaginative project. By using PEFC-certified CLT, the project team could build this fantastic sculpture with timber from sustainably managed forests.”

A symbol of hope

The Head Above Water by night

The ‘Head’ was designed deliberately gender, ethnicity and age neutral and stood as a symbol of hope, bravery, compassion, positivity and change, for those who have come through or are still confronting mental health issues and the people who support them.

At night, the sculpture was lit and people could engage with it by changing its colour to reflect how they were feeling in real time, by tweeting #HeadAboveWaterLondon followed by one of the Head’s 14 emotions, which included love, hope, hate and fear.

After the London Design Festival, the Head will be re-homed at Northfleet Transhipment Centre, where it will stand as a symbol of recycling and rejuvenation, as well as mental health awareness.

Photos credits: Luke Walker


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