Home Sculptor News bicameral by conrad shawcross unveiled at chelsea barracks

bicameral by conrad shawcross unveiled at chelsea barracks


‘bicameral’, a public sculpture by british artist conrad shawcross, has been unveiled at chelsea barracks — a major real estate development in central london. the piece is the first artwork to be installed as part of a program of public commissions for the new neighborhood. located in close proximity to london’s oldest botanical garden, bicameral seeks to reflect the area’s rich botanical history, while paying homage to the materials and craftsmanship at the heart of the new masterplan.

bicameral conrad shawcross
image by dominic james (also main image)



now home to a collection of luxury residences and townhouses, the former army barracks has been transformed into a residential development complete with restaurants and traditional garden squares. developed by qatari diar, chelsea barracks spans 12.8 acres and is arranged around seven garden squares designed by gustafson porter + bowman (more images of the landscaping can be seen in the gallery at the bottom of this page). the first residents moved into the development in the autumn of 2019.

bicameral conrad shawcross
image by dominic james



made of anodized aluminum, bicameral has been created entirely without welding. to construct the 8 meter-tall (26ft) structure, which comprises 693 component parts, conrad shawcross used techniques drawn from japanese wood joinery. visitors are invited to stop and contemplate under the complex arching canopy of the sculpture’s branching forms — suggestive both of a wooded arbor and the neural network of the human brain.

image by dominic james



‘the name bicameral came from ‘the origin of consciousness in the breakdown of the bicameral mind’, by julian jaynes; jaynes’ book theorizes that consciousness evolved out of the use of language, particularly metaphors,’ shawcross explains. ‘the sculpture is a progression of bifurcating and trifurcating elements that fan out from a stem loosely forming two hemispheres or sides. the work is in some ways an arcadian symbol for reason, humanity, rationalism, progress, whilst the abstract modular structure oscillates between recognizable natural systems such as neural pathways, a set of lungs, or even a schematized tree itself, but in the end it remains elusive to definition.’

image by dominic james

image by dominic james

image by richard ivey

image by richard ivey

image by richard ivey



project info:


name: bicameral
design: conrad shawcross
location: chelsea barracks (london, UK)
landscape design: gustafson porter + bowman
developer: qatari diar europe

philip stevens I designboom

nov 16, 2019

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