The Statue of Unity, designed by Indian sculptor Ram V Suta, is now the world’s tallest statue. It stands at 182-metres and 50 storeys tall, the structure is four times the size of the Statue of Liberty. Taking four years to build, the statue encompassed 210,000 cubic metres of cement, 25,000 tonnes of steel and 1,700 tonnes of bronze and cost 29.8 billion rupees (£314 million).
Recently, it was officially inaugurated in Gujarat state, India, by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Modi stated that the statue challenges those “who question the existence of India.” Also, it symbolises the country’s “engineering and technical prowess”. Made from scrap metal and clad in bronze, the statue is in the image of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel. A founding father of the Republic of India, Patel was born in Gujarat state. He was a nationalist that helped India gain independence from British colonial rule in 1947.
His monument weighs incredibly, its “skin” almost over 2,000 tonnes. Also, a steel space frame attaches to the core, while 22,000 square metres of distinct bronze panels form the shape. Two reinforced concrete cores containing the lifts form the centre of the statue. Mass dampeners are installed, protecting the statue from high winds and earthquakes. The vast use of metals is fitting, considering Patel’s nickname as India’s “Iron Man”.
“As you can imagine with a project of this scale and level of complexity, there were several challenges to overcome,” James Wisniewski, project leader and principal of Michael Graves Architecture & Design.
“One of the challenges was to create the statue in the walking pose while balancing the programmatic layout and function of the building’s core and structure. Luckily, Sardar Patel wore a traditional Indian dhoti of draped fabric, which allowed our team to design the elevator towers in a staggered fashion while giving the proper external appearance,” he added.
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The statue’s opening ceremony was elaborate and colourful. Helicopters dropping petals and flotillas of balloons in the tricolour of the Indian flag. However, not everyone is happy. Before the opening, protests broke out. Local families claimed the government displaced their homes for the monument with no compensation. Consequently, the Indian government has denied claims, arresting community leaders ahead of the opening.
Despite this unrest, The Statue of Unity will likely attract floods of tourists. When visits open on 3 November 2018, tourist can take lifts up to a 153-metre-high viewing platform. These lifts will handle around 15,000 tourists per day.