The National Salt Satyagraha Memorial’s centerpiece, a stainless steel A-frame the casts a pyramid of light of the state of Mahatma Gandhi.

Honoring Indian independence with stainless steel

Stainless steel is often chosen by architects around the world for its durability and aesthetic qualities. In India, the National Salt Satyagraha Memorial, a major public works project recently dedicated by PM Narendra Modi, prominently features stainless steel in its design.
^ The National Salt Satyagraha Memorial’s centerpiece, a stainless steel A-frame the casts a pyramid of light of the state of Mahatma Gandhi.

Article by Daniel Sweet

Spanning 15 acres near the coast at Dandi in Gujarat, the National Salt Satyagraha Memorial honors the legacy of India’s founding father, Mahatma Gandhi, and his Dandi March of 1930. The march, known officially as the Salt Satyagraha March, was an important moment in the Indian independence movement: after a 241-mile trek from Sabarmati Ashram, Ahmedabad to the coastal village of Dandi, Gandhi and his supporters ceremoniously broke the Salt Law imposed by the colonial British government. The event inspired millions of Indians to join the cause and brought international attention to the Indian struggle for independence. The Dandi March also demonstrated the effectiveness of non-violent civil disobedience, a form of protest that would go on to inspire the Civil Rights Movement in the United States.

In commemoration of the 150th anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi’s birth, Prime Minister Narendra Modi dedicated the National Salt Satyagraha Memorial on January 30, 2019. The site consists of a large, illuminated monument to Gandhi, erected next to an artificial lake and powered by 40 solar trees. The lake is encircled by a walking path with murals depicting events leading up to the salt march. The site also features a museum with salt-making facilities. The project began in 2005 and was overseen by the High Level Dandi Memorial Committee (HLDMC), led by Gopal Krishna Gandhi, grandson of Mahatma Gandhi. IIT Bombay was tasked with creating a conceptual design and, once approved, coordinating and implementing the construction of the project. Out of the many materials available to IIT Bombay, the group settled on stainless steel for its superior durability and aesthetic. 

The Gandhi memorial

The centerpiece of the National Salt Satyagraha Memorial is a statue of Gandhi, carefully aligned under the center of a 40-meter-tall, duplex steel A-frame. At the top of the A-frame is a 2.5 ton glass crystal, placed inside a SS316-frame and cladded with glass sheets. The crystal is framed in two stainless steel arms, stylized as human hands, which appear to be raising the crystal to the sky. At night, the crystal is illuminated by lasers to cast a pyramid of light around the Gandhi statue. Because of the coastal conditions of the memorial, designers chose duplex stainless steel both for its beauty, strength, and resilience. Blending in with the artistry of the memorial, the shining stainless steel compliments the aesthetic while protecting the memorial from corrosion. To the south of the A-frame are 81 bronze statues representing the marchers who joined Gandhi on his mission to Dandi.

Solar Trees

To reflect Gandhi’s ethos of self-sufficiency, a decision was made to construct the memorial in such a way that no extra energy would be required to power the site. As a result, 40 “solar trees,” or tree-shaped solar panel installations were specially developed and installed at the memorial. The goal of a net zero-energy project was achieved, as the solar trees store energy during the day and feed back into the electricity grid. At night, this energy is used to power the lighting above the Gandhi sculpture.

Just as the A-frame structure needed to be durable, so too did the solar trees need to withstand the costal conditions of the memorial site. The trunks of the trees are made of mild steel sheets with multiple protective layers, comprising of hot dip galvanization, priming coats, epoxy paint, and PU paint. The tree branches are made from 114 mm, SS316-grade OD steel piping. Each leaf is supported by SS316-grade frames.


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