BREAKING NEWS: Plans for proposed dome to cover Stonehenge from 2021

31 03 2020

Stonehenge is one of the countries most beloved sites, the Neolithic monument becoming a UNESCO world heritage site in 1986. Although many measures have been taken since to protect the ancient stones, the current climate crisis is beginning to take its toll; increased carbon dioxide levels and acid rain have both contributed to the stones’ deterioration.  On top of that, vandalism and even the threat of terrorism has led English Heritage, in partnership with UNESCO, to seek drastic measures for the preservation of the prehistoric wonder:  namely covering the stones with a glass dome.

STONEHENGE GLASS DOME

Stonehenge Dome Architectural Illustration. Copyright Thor Design

The dome is the simplest way to preserve the monument, both protecting the stones from any external threat whilst allowing a nitrogen rich atmosphere to be maintained within the dome, preserving the delicate lichen which grows on the surface of the stones – slowing the rate of decay inexorably. An English Heritage representative excitingly described the project as an attempt to create “the world’s first climate-controlled stone circle”

Proposed Glass Specifications: UV resistant | Water resistant | Wind resistant |EN 1090- 1:2009+A1:2011 Compliant | Polyethylene 140 g/m2 

At this stage various firms are bidding for the project and their exact specifications
differ. An Exeter based architectural firm has proposed ‘a polycarbonate titan arch’, whilst another unnamed bidder has put forward a ‘louvre style pyramid’. The most likely option seems to be the idea put forward by the London based architectural engineering firm PCMR, who specify an ‘Igloo style dome’, designed with a PVC weatherproof cover. PCMR’s patented scratch resistant glass is reportedly ‘perfect’ for the project.

Sources at PCMR say the dome will take nothing away from the viewers experience whilst its “…magnifying properties would also make the stones look bigger from the outside as many tourists are disappointed by the size of the stones”.

However, with conservative estimates of the project getting into the millions, cheaper alternatives may have to be considered. Local councils have suggested more of a ‘gazebo’ style design or even a giant poly tunnel.

The plans have been labelled ‘project snowglobe’- and have summer Solstice organisers are excited by the technological prospects the project could bring to the celebrations. The dome allows for advanced lighting and sound systems to be installed; the Chemical Brothers are already rumoured to be interested in playing the maiden show and tickets could retail from upwards of £100.

Some plans even include adding additional features within the globe. One proposal plans to utilise the climate-controlled environment and plant an elegant orange grove, adding some continental beauty to Neolithic stones as well as the prospect of Wiltshire’s first orange juice vintage. Although the orange grove idea has been met with enthusiasm by residents, suggestions that the giant globe design could also be used for growing herbs has been called a waste of thyme.

However, the glass isn’t all rose tinted.  Representatives of the World Greenhouse Federation (WGF) have registered concerns as to the magnifying capabilities of the proposed dome, releasing a statement that nearby villages such as Amesbury and perhaps even parts of Salisbury could ignite if the sun was to shine on the globe from particular angles. Furthermore, local window cleaning firms have been fervently bidding for the job of cleaning the proposed dome, it being called the biggest job in the industry since the Shard. But things have turned nasty and there have been reports of threats and even of violent clashes between rival firms in the build up to the announcement. On top of that, Salisbury window company, Curt & Rod are disappointed local companies were not contacted and one preeminent Archaeologist claimed the greenhouse idea would be a costly and a real pain.

However, setbacks haven’t stopped the tide of incoming ideas. British Company Vision Express submitted plans for a grand ‘Crystal Palace’ design, however UNESCO dismissed the design and said, ‘we should have gone to Specsavers.’

Let’s hope whoever lands the contract, goes out there and absolutely smashes it.

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