Design Thinking

International Asbestos Memorial - For all those known and unknown



KNOW AND UNKOWN is a stainless steel sculpture, designed as an International Asbestos Memorial to remember all those individuals whose lives have been taken by the affects of asbestos. Over time, seven hundred and fifty names of “local” Clydebank people will be etched into the reflective polished surfaces, representing the “known”, while the brushed stainless steel surfaces will be left blank, un-etched, in recognition of the hundreds of thousands of unknown people around the globe who have been killed by asbestos related illnesses but who are either unacknowledged or and unidentified.

To be located in the new public realm space at the junction of Hume Street and Glasgow Road, Clydebank, the memorial takes the form of a perfect cube, segmented into five equal sections, spaced equidistant apart and positioned at forty five degrees to the roadline. The properties of a cube are such that each corner is at 90 degrees and all sides are square, therefor “all is square”; true and correct. A “cube” is used in acknowledgement of Clydebank Asbestos Groups long and ongoing fight for Truth and Justice for victims of asbestos, as well as their families. The public realm space is to be renamed Truth and Justice Square.

When viewed from either end the memorial appears as a single square section, but when viewed from off centre the five sections appear lined up one after the other as if descending into the past or reaching into the future, capturing the facts that the actions of the past are still being felt today, with tragic consequences, and will continue to be felt on an increasing scale well in to the future, with more and more victims of asbestos being identified, as more and more people continue to be exploited in the mining and use of asbestos around the world.


The memorial appears, when viewed from either end, to be relatively small, but when viewed from either side the full size of the memorial is revealed, this is representative of how the asbestos problem is general perceived today, to be small, but how it is in fact a massive and increasing global problem.

The four spaces between the five segments, each representing a decade, collectively represent the forty years it take for asbestos to take a life after it has been inhaled into the lungs.

The positioning of the five segments at forty-five degrees to the road line creates adynamic visual effect where the memorial visually opens and closes when it is viewed from a passing vehicles or when walked around. The opening and closing is symbolic of the opening and closing of the lungs, the inhale and exhale of the breathing process. The memorial is calling for all people to be able to breath clean air and to live, learn, love and work in a healthy environment which is safe for every individual.

The choice of material, stainless steel makes a direct reference and connection to shipbuilding, Clydebank's proud past, and an industry where asbestos was commonly use to lag the pipes and line boilers. The bright and mirror polished finish of the memorial are a statement of Clydebank's commitment of a bright and dynamic future.

Back to Home Page