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The time zone clock

A monument dedicated to TIME and the Time Zone System

27 November 2020
Year :
Location :
Millennium Plaza, Coventry

TIME zero is located at Greenwich where the Time Zone system was invented.

In 1998, Françoise Schein was commissioned by the Coventry City Council to create a public artwork for the Central Millennium. The project, called the Phoenix Initiative, was part of a large-scale project to restructure the entire city center, which was destroyed by the Germans during World War II.

Several artists were commissioned to create various art pieces located next to the project area. The urbanist-architect was Richard Mc Cormac and the art project curator and manager was Vivien Lovell of Modus Operandi. Françoise Schein worked closely with Richard Mc Cormac and assisted in several London workshops to draft the global artistic city project and her artwork on Millenium Plaza.

It is important to know that the design and the concept evolved during the architect and the artist dialogues and discussions. Such opportunities for dialogue are rarely given to artists. It was also during these meetings that Mc Cormac and Schein designed two large arches framing the Time Zone Clock, while the design of the plaza was slightly inclined, like Campo in Siena, Italy.

Once the location was settled, the Time Zone Clock was designed and then built with the french company LEC in Lyon, France.

These lines are puzzles made of 1367 cast aluminum and inlaid with LEDs. They are mounted on a black slate ground. The 1367 LED-aluminum items form the 24-time zone lines, which light up one after another, marking the passage of the hour. All connected to a computer system, unlimited possibilities of lighting movements are imaginable. Throughout the entire sculpture (70 x 12 meters), 26 bronze rounds are embedded into the slates, marking the 26 Coventry twin cities in the world. Over time, the lights light up to form a visible schematic, similar to ocean tides’ marks on the sand of the beaches.

This public artwork, with its electronic components, acts as the effect of the moon on tidal motion of the ocean and the earth’s motion around the sun. It is a map of geography and time.

The other artists of the Phoenix Initiative:
Jochen Gertz
Alexander Beleschenko
Chris Browne
David Ward
Kate Whiteford
Susanna Heron


The project was shortlisted RIBA Stirling Prize in 2004


Françoise Schein, artist
Richard Mc Cormac, architect
Vivien Lovell, project manager


LEC, design and construction of electronic devices
Michael Popper, construction consultant
Robert Rummey, construction manager
Ashgate, development consultant
Thyssen, builder
Whitby Birds & Partners, engineering


Coventry City Council
The lottery


Françoise Schein
Vivien Lovell Modus Operandi