Design Awards: 2002: Commendation

The Magna Project, Rotherham

The Magna Project, Rotherham

Architect

Wilkinson Eyre Architects

Structural Engineer

Connell Mott MacDonald

Steelwork Contractor

Billington Structrues Ltd

Main Contractor

Schai International Management Ltd

Client

The Magna Trust

Magna is a Millennium Commission funded building that re-uses the redundant steelworks at Templeborough, Rotherham to create a hands-on science adventure centre organised around the Aristotelian elements _ Earth, Air, Fire and Water.

The enormous main sheds at the steelworks have been stripped of extraneous ancillary buildings, the existing profiled metal skin has been repaired and
the whole has been painted black to protect and unify the exterior.

The interior of the shed is an awe-inspiring space with a scale and grandeur only hinted at by the exterior. Four new pavilions house the exhibits and provide environmentally controlled conditions. The form, location and construction of these pavilions relate to the respective elements and together with the existing artefacts, retained from the steel making processes, combine to make a new composition.
Visitors may explore these pavilions and the main shed with the horizontal walkway links and vertical circulation elements located at the refurbished Transformer house in the centre of the space.

The new elements are steel-framed structures supported from the massive stanchions that previously supported the crane gantry rails.

The Air Pavilion is clad in three layers EFTE cushion clipped to aluminium extrusions held in position with a cable net tension structure. Air inflation maintains the form and insulation value of the envelope.

The Water Pavilion is clad in stainless steel sheeting pre-curved to follow the spiral form. A pre-filled metal stressed skin provides the substrate and lateral restraint to fabricate steel ribs at 3m centres.

The Fire Pavilion is suspended across the two main aisles with a three-dimensional latice floor structure. A proprietary black composite cladding provides the enclosure.

The Earth Pavilion is supported from existing and new columns at basement level that support both the floor and roof structure. The roof is clad in pre-rusted steel sheeting supported by profiled metal decking.

Wilkinson Eyre Architects were appointed in July 1998, enabling works comprising site remediation, demolitions and strip-out packages commenced in April 1999. New construction commenced from January 2000 and was complete in March 2001.

The project opened to the public in April 2001, and has proved a popular success with over 100,000 visitors in the first six weeks.

Judges’ Comments:

The Templeborough Steel Works once reverberated to the roar and hammer of steel making. By an intelligent use of the existing fabric, combined with the use of light to create atmosphere and excitement, the interior has been transformed into Magna. This Exhibition and Education centre has a variety of steel pavilions reflecting the themes of the exhibition.

National Space Centre, Leicester

National Space Centre, Leiceste

Architect

Nicholas Grimshaw & Partners Ltd

Structural Engineer

Arup

Steelwork Contractor

S H Structures Ltd

Main Contractor

Sir Robert McAlpine Ltd

Client

The National Space Centre

The National Space Centre is the UK’s only attraction dedicated to space science and astronomy.

The design comprises three principal elements: a main podium, an annexed rocket tower and a prefabricated Challenger Learning Centre. Together, these elements form an exhibition venue of international standing and a new centre of excellence for education and research affiliated to the University of Leicester.

The podium is a double-height space (6m high) built on a lightweight 14m-grid steel frame. It is capable of accommodating a flexible arrangement of exhibition display systems as well as the full integration of structure and service zones. It has been created as a 5,000m2 square-plan structure in the renovated shell of the disused storm-water tank.

The podium is ‘wrapped’ in a double skin, comprising an inner wall of fenestration and silver sinusoidal steel cladding with a homogenous outer screen of perforated stainless steel panels. In practical terms, this affords privacy to offices and facilitates the optimum environment for the safe display of sensitive artefacts.

The podium contains administrative and research facilities affiliated to the University of Leicester in addition to the public Visitor Experience, a 2.5-hour interactive exhibition. Organised in a ‘hub and spoke’ arrangement, the Visitor Experience is designed to facilitate visitor flows for the Space Theatre, a state-of-the-art planetarium. This huge geodesic dome (20.5m) perforates the roof slab at the centre of the exhibition space, acting as a foil to the soaring vertical form of the Rocket Tower.

The tower has been designed as a showcase for high-profile international exhibits, most notably the ‘Blue Streak’ F16 and Thor Abel rockets. Its volume has been defined by the dimensions of these exhibits, with its highest point (42m) proportionate to that of the largest rocket installed (26m).

The volumetric requirements of the tower are expressed in its structural skeleton. The primary curving structure is composed of a series of simple steel arcs of varying radii – attached end-to-end and rotated one to the other, braced by a vertical concrete stair core. The geometric configuration of the tower structure, with its combinations of curves and in-line twists, represented an interesting challenge for the structural steel subcontractor, S H Structures. They commenced their detailed design work using a 3-D model (developed by the architects in collaboration with the engineers) as a starting point. With the use of current CAD technology, this could be relatively easily manipulated, allowing the team to work efficiently on the basic skeletal structure, despite its obvious geometric complexity.

The principal benefit of such a considered design is that it can be precisely translated to the workshop floor, in terms of simplicity of both explanation and assembly.

Horizontal radiused CHSs support an EFTE skin at 3000mm vertical intervals, approaching the maximum achievable span of the latter material.

EFTE foil is a modified co-polymer that poses no threat to the ozone layer. Weighing less than 1% of the dead weight of equivalent glass but with greater insulation properties than even double-glazing, its sustainable benefit is that it greatly reduces the energy requirements to heat the space that it covers.

The resulting envelope is an exemplar of efficiency – the enclosure of a complex 3-Dimensional space with minimal secondary support mechanisms and troublesome joints and junctions.

Judges’ Comment

s:

A slightly incongruous match between the rocket housing and the general exhibition space does not ultimately detract from the sense of wonderment, excitement and pure pleasure that this design gives to its many visitors.

Tattersalls Grandstand, Nebury Racecourse

Tattersalls Grandstand, Nebury Racecourse

Architects

Foster and Partners

Structural Engineer

Whitby Bird & Partners

Steelwork Contractor

Watson Steel Ltd

Constructor Manager

Heery International Ltd

Client

Newbury Racecourse plc

The new Tattersall Stand at Newbury Racecourse in Berkshire provides upgraded betting, viewing and catering facilities whilst also offering a new venue for exhibitions and conferences during non-race days.

The structural form was driven by the architect’s intent for a clear, bold, expressive X-frame. Primarily this differs from conventional stadium design in that the roof was not designed to cantilever forward but rather to be propped by the primary structure at its tip. The geometry of the X-frame was developed to provide efficiency within the structure whilst satisfying the client’s brief for clear floor plates. By ensuring that the horizontal, vertical and diagonal elements of the frame connected at discrete node points, forces were resolved into axial loads thus minimising bending stresses.

The structure consists of six X-frames spanning 36m on a 12m grid with service cores attached to the back. Steppings, to the front, rise to a bar level at the central node point of the X, above which is a restaurant level with projecting balconies.

The client required that the old stand be demolished and the new stand be in place between the dates of the annual November Hennessy Gold Cup race meetings. With under a year to construct the stadium the design and fabrication maximised off site fabrication in order to deliver a ‘kit of parts’ that could be readily assembled on site.

Structural stability is inherent in the plane of the X-frames, whilst bracing within the cores provides stability to imposed lateral loads in the orthogonal direction. Within the mechanism of the X-frame, vertical ties resolved the structure from out of balance loading thus preventing the central node point acting as a fulcrum about which the upper structure could pivot. A horizontal tie between the feet of the X-frame ensured that the structure resolved itself into a discrete element whereby only vertical and applied lateral wind loads are transmitted to the piled foundations.

An assessment of the sensitivity of the steel frame to dynamic loading was carried out using a finite element model. Due to the angle of rake, the primary X-frame elements do not behave like simple columns but have a complex beam-column characteristic in which the structure has a tendency to combine vertical deformation with sway. The analysis studied the global type mode shapes and the largest conceivable energy input of a capacity crowd jumping in time.

The relatively short spans and large number of openings in the service cores favoured a concrete filled metal decking that could be simply trimmed to suit the irregular floor plate. The bar and restaurant clear floor plates were constructed using pre-cast concrete planks with a structural topping spanning 6m.

To meet the architect’s specification for a high finish to the concrete steppings the units were fabricated off site and sequenced in delivery to be lifted straight into position so as to minimise handling and the possibility of damage.

Judges’ Comment

s:

This grandstand has a transparently open feel that displays the primary “X-frame” structural form to its best advantage. It is clearly a winner with the client, fulfilling the project brief by providing excellent usable space and sight lines throughout. The designers are to be congratulated on a splendid team effort.

Premier Place, Devonshire Square, London EC2

Premier Place, Devonshire Square, London EC2

Architect

Bennetts Associates Architects

Structural Engineer

Waterman Partnership

Steelwork Contractor

Wescol Glosford plc

Main Contractor

Carillion

Client

AXA Sun Life Properties Ltd

Following a limited competition in 1996, Bennetts Associates were appointed by BT Properties to design an office building on the site of its redundant Houndsditch Telephone Exchange.

Having gained planning permission, the site was bought by AXA Sun Life who commissioned Bennetts Associates to develop the project to completion, which was achieved within its £45 million budget in October 2001. The building has been pre-let to the Royal Bank of Scotland.

In sympathy with the industrial Victorian warehouses nearby, 2 1/2 Devonshire Square expresses its structure within a rugged, load-bearing steel and glass façade. The design orientates the building away from Houndsditch and places the main entrance on the corner of Devonshire Square.

Incorporating the client’s floor space requirements, respecting the proximity of a conservation area and rights of light limitations, the building steps back from Devonshire Square on the sixth floor, rising up to nine storeys along the Houndsditch elevation.

Lifts and staircases in the glazed service cores animate the exterior of the building and provide a series of minor landmarks at critical points in the townscape. These vertical elements, accentuated by towers of meeting rooms framed by shear walls clad in granite, act as “bookends” for the principal steel elevations. Solar shading adds to the textural qualities of the southern façade.

The decision to expose the structural steel frame of the Devonshire Square building created a number of inherent technical challenges:

  • Developing an appropriate language of steelwork detailing and finishes
  • Addressing potential cold bridging problems
  • Vapour and condensation control
  • Fire engineering issues
  • Understanding the movements, deflections and tolerances of exposed steelwork
  • Corrosion protection issues

Standard rolled sections are manufactured as general purpose members with a relatively wide dimensional tolerance for length, depth, straightness and surface quality. While, in normal use, this is not a problem, when the steelwork is exposed on the façade, these tolerances may not achieve an appropriate visual standard commensurate with the cladding of a city office building. The façade steelwork was therefore ordered direct from the manufacturer with a more precise dimensional tolerance, and to the highest surface quality to minimise laminations, rolling marks, surface pitting and handling damage.

Judges’ Comment

s:

The special feature of this steel framed office building is its façade. Exposed steel has been used to provide both its structural form and architectural expression. Clearly articulated detailing and careful attention to tolerances has produced a building with a fine presence.