Invisible Heroes

How to raise awareness to show invisible care work by nursing relatives? We designed a sculpture to be installed at Vienna’s central Heldenplatz (Heroes’ Square) for our client, the Austrian Red Cross Society.

A vast majority of care-dependent people are supported by their relatives, mostly women. They are an important societal factor, mainly financed out of private capital. Their work is physically and mentally onerous and barely compatible with an employment or personal interests. The risk of permanent stress is high while social recognition and visibility are low.

We designed a temporary and mobile sculpture to give voice to today’s invisible heroes. Which place would better fit than the historically eventful Heroes’ Square in Vienna for setting a monument for these invisible heroes against those of war heroes from the 19th century?
Formally the sculpture works as an anti-monument: More than 350 customary crutches made of light metal and synthetic material are building a network of a self-supporting space frame truss, giving the impression of an open upwards dissolved cuboid. The sculptures’ basis is formed by a mirrored cube reflecting and fragmenting the symmetrical square and its surroundings, involving the passer-by’s. From the inside of the sculpture, neon writings controlled by computers are sending different messages to the urban space.
It was planned to collect used crutches to display also the history of their former users and nursing relatives on the mirrored surface.
On the long term the monument should have been exhibited in all Austrian state capitals over the period of two years and finally being installed at the Austrian Red Cross’ centre of disaster relive in Vienna.

Hight: 11 m
Framework: approx. 350 customary crutches made of light metal and synthetic material, metal joints, two steel frames braced with steel cable
Basis/cube: 2,2 m, steel framework, water containers, mirror; punctual foundations

Project lead and design: Fabian Dembski Studio for Architecture and Urban Design, Vienna
Structural design: Oliver Englhardt, &structures, Munich
Permit design and project management: Alexander Laber Architekten ZT GmbH, Vienna






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