A graduate of Cardiff University has had the design for a new national prayer landmark given the greenlight.
Paul Bulkeley, who studied for a degree in architecture, won a global competition run between 2016-2019 by the Royal Institute of British Architects, to design the Eternal Wall of Answered Prayer.
His concept of a gigantic, never-ending Möbius strip; a surface which seemingly has no beginning or end, gained him the top spot in an international field of 133 entries from 28 countries.
Built of one million bricks on a site near Birmingham, Eternal Wall of Answered Prayer will be one of the biggest crowd-created collaborative projects in the world, digitally linking every single brick in its structure to a personal story of answered prayer submitted from individuals all across the UK.
Using interactive technology and a bespoke app, visitors will be able to use their smart device, holding it against any brick to read the specific answered prayer story behind each one.
The structure will be more than double the size of the Angel of the North, eclipsing the northern landmark to stand at 169ft. it is expected to attract 300,000 visitors each year, contributing approximately £9.3m to the Warwickshire economy.
Mr Bulkeley lived in Roath, Cardiff for seven years between 1993 and 2001 while studying architecture at the university. Following his time in the city, he founded his own architectural practice, Snug Architects, in 2003 in Winchester before moving his business to Totton near Southampton.
Mr Bulklely said: “As I’ve been part of the journey, I’ve realised that this monument will not only be awe-inspiring as a piece of public art, but I’m also convinced it will be loved as an iconic landmark of hope communicating the value of prayer to the visual and interactive age in the 21st century.
“I am delighted to be part of such a ground-breaking Christian venture and look forward to seeing the design now become a reality.”
After North Warwickshire Borough Council granted planning permission, the Secretary of State ratified the decision, giving Eternal Wall of Answered Prayer CEO Richard Gamble and the team the green light to start the build.
The former chaplain of Leicester City Football Club, who also previously worked as event manager at All Nations Church, Cardiff, is the visionary behind the monumental project.
Mr Gamble says: “It’s been 16 years since the idea was first born. To finally receive the official consent is incredible. We are building a very special landmark and it is an amazing opportunity for the British people to leave a legacy of hope for future generations.
“Eternal Wall of Answered Prayer will make hope visible to the UK. The unique thing about the project is that it’s all about the community: it’s crowdfunded and a million people will come together to crowd-create this incredible piece of art with their stories of hope. What we’re doing is historic.”
It is anticipated that Eternal Wall of Answered Prayer will create 60 new jobs during its two year construction phase from 2021, thereafter providing 20 full-time positions for employees to work for the charity in the visitor centre, café, bookstore and a 24 hour on-site chaplaincy support service. It is also estimated that the monument will generate an additional gross social value of £1.4bn, including £430m in charitable donations.
Construction is expected to begin in Spring 2021 with completion in Autumn 2022.