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Silica is a landmark sculpture in the main shopping area of Weston-super-Mare, a seaside town in southwest England. Designed by Wolfgang and Heron, Silica is an ovoid form on a circular base, and it tapers dramatically to form a spire. By day, glass prisms glint in the sunlight; by night, there are LED displays.

Remarkably, Silica houses within its base a retail kiosk, a bus shelter, and a public information display.

Silica was commissioned by Mark Luck on behalf of North Somerset Council (NSC) as part of the Weston Civic Pride Initiative. It is one of a number of projects that form part of plans for the regeneration of the town. Lesley Greene and Diane Hatton were Art Consultants for the project.

The brief called for ‘fully configured’ artist-led design teams. Wolfgang and Heron appointed architects Conran & Partners, structural engineers Price and Myers and lighting designers Gravity Design to work with them. This approach – in which the artists chose their own team of architects and structural engineers, and also later appointed their own choice of contractors – is unusual.

Weston-super-Mare has little arts activity and a wary public, and Silica has had a bumpy ride. However, there is now growing acceptance of the sculpture.