Design Awards: 2006: Award

McLaren Technology Centre, Woking

McLaren Technology Centre, Woking

Architect

Foster and Partners

Structural Engineer

Arup

Steelwork Contractor

William Hare Ltd

Main Contractor

Kier Build Ltd

Client

McLaren Group

The McLaren Group is a collection of high-tech companies involved in the design and development of Formula 1 cars, high-performance road cars, electronic systems and composite materials. Since McLaren began competing in Formula 1 in 1966, it has established a global reputation as one of the most successful teams in the history of the sport.

The McLaren Technology Centre provides a headquarters for the majority of the group’s staff. It includes design studios, laboratories and testing and production facilities, electronics development, machine shops, prototyping and production facilities for Formula 1 and road cars including the Mercedes- Benz SLR McLaren, as well as a 145m long wind tunnel. A Visitor Centre is located in a separate building at the entrance to the complex. It houses educational facilities, a temporary exhibition space and presentation theatre and is linked to the main centre by a subterranean building. This two-storey structure is buried underground – like the rest of the Technology Centre it is designed to make a minimal intervention in the landscape – and is visible only by its circular rooflight.

The building posed the challenge of sensitively accommodating a building as large as Stansted Airport on a 50-hectare green belt site. The required 60,000m2 of accommodation had to be contained within a 20,000m2 footprint. The site’s constraints, determined by a 10m datum, surrounding flood plains, public footpaths, a river and restricted land, resulted in the low, deepplan building sunk into the landscape, shielded from view by the planting of 100,000 new trees. Equally, time was an important factor. Steelwork was the most practical solution, as it allowed prefabrication off-site.

A design strategy that would allow for flexibility was an important requirement of the brief. The mix of disciplines and the varying processes involved in each of the specialist industries dictated a structure that could allow for changing needs. Consequently, both the concrete and steel components of the structure have been designed to allow for future additional service penetrations.

High quality finishes are used throughout the complex, while landscape design and sustainability are successfully brought together in the dramatic lake adjacent to the McLaren Technology Centre. The lake is central to the building’s environmental strategy – its 50,000 cubic metres of water form a vital part of the cooling infrastructure for the entire complex. The lake also serves to marry the building to the landscape by making the long, curved, transparent façade look directly onto the lake.

In order to emphasise the close relationship between the lake and the building, a minimal structure was needed. To achieve this the architects worked closely with the glass-systems company Schüco International and with McLaren’s own engineers, combining aerospace and Formula 1 engineering technology to find the strongest and most transparent solution for the façade. Computer-cut aluminium ‘windblades’ absorb the windloads, while the vertical loads are supported by stainlesssteel tie-rods that are the same as those used to support the bodywork of a Team McLaren Mercedes Formula 1 car. Thus the laminated glass is suspended with almost no visible means of support, creating a virtually uninterrupted dialogue between the landscape and the interior of the building, and creating dramatic views of the lake and the surrounding countryside.

Aside from offering a solution to the challenges of time and planning restrictions posed by the project, the extensive use of steel was also key to articulating McLaren’s work. The exposed engineering structure reflects the client’s precision engineering industry, and keen eye for quality. The use of steel is key to the functionality of the building and clearly articulates the values of The McLaren Group itself.

Judges’ Comment

s:

This temple to engineering excellence is approached rather in the style of a great country house, set in its orchestrated Surrey idyll. It is the result of a clear synergy between a strong client and an equally strong architect. Both have been fascinated by, and demanded, perfection in this joint endeavour. Only this standard has been good enough, and this is manifest in the building.

The judges were almost stunned into silence by the calm environment and the quality of the construction, which approaches in relative terms, that of a F1 racing car.

Effective, but reasonably straightforward, steelwork has been raised to a level of precision which stretches the horizon of the possible.

In some ways this is a disturbing building for human occupation, but it fascinates the intellect and is destined to become a timeless classic.

Gatwick Pier 6 Air Bridge, North Terminal, Gatwick Airport

Gatwick Pier 6 Air Bridge, North Terminal, Gatwick Airport

Architect

Wilkinson Eyre Architects

Structural Engineer

Arup

Steelwork Contractor

Watson Steel Structures Ltd

Construction Manager

Mace Ltd

Client

BAA Gatwick Ltd

This unique air bridge is a key component of Pier 6 at London’s Gatwick Airport. The bridge is fully enclosed and provides a permanent link for pedestrians between the North Terminal and the new satellite building. It is the first bridge outside the United States to span an airport taxiway, and caters for much larger aircraft than its predecessor in Denver, Colorado; its scale and construction making it unique in engineering terms.

The bridge forms a major landmark for Gatwick, and provides passengers with a dramatic opportunity for viewing aircraft at close proximity as they pass beneath, thereby enhancing their experience of the airport. These key features, in conjunction with minimal impact on airport operations during its construction, realised the client’s design brief.

Architecture and Structural Engineering

The architecture of the bridge has been part of the engineering and vice versa, the form and shape being dictated by the engineering needs of both assembly and completed state. The gentle vertical curve of the structure has been transposed to the cladding and to the interior.

The design of the bridge is elegant yet pragmatic, the main curve of its deck satisfying both airport operational requirements and relating to its structural behaviour. The elegant curved design is integral to the client’s vision both for the unique experience of passengers using it and as a major landmark for the airport. The continuously varying and curved form makes a dynamic and interesting space, with visible lines as elegantly smooth curves, thus giving passengers the feeling that the bridge moves along with them. One of the most striking aspects of this interior is the view out. An expansive vista of the airfield is opened up to passengers, who are able to observe the activity of the airport from a completely new perspective.

Great efforts were made to integrate services within the bridge fabric in an unobtrusive yet accessible manner, with air supplied through a high-level spine plenum incorporating the support structure for the central glazed screen, which separates departing and arriving passengers.

The main superstructure and services are contained entirely within the building envelope to minimise long term maintenance. The controlled environment of the bridge interior limits the extent of corrosion protection required to the support piers only. The bridge elements and materials were carefully selected for quality and type, based upon airport requirements for standardisation and maintenance, aircraft safety and the desire to give passengers an exciting distinctive environment.

Aligned along the route of a major airfield road, the bridge has a main span of 128m, which allows for a future widening of the taxiway. The bridge has a minimum vertical clearance across the taxiway of 22m, accommodating the required clearance of the Boeing 747-400 tailfin.

In creating the passenger tube, the concept of the human spine and ribs was adopted. The central spine beam, with a varying depth from 6.0m to 9.3m on a subtle curve, supports the floor and roof rib beams, and the tube is completed by struts between the roof and floor ribs supporting the fullheight glazed façade. The façade is inclined inwards by 11 degrees from the constant width roof towards the floor, creating a curved floor deck which narrows at mid-span.

The superstructure is supported on two Y-shaped piers, which are symmetrical to the centre of the taxiway and the bridge. The way the bridge works is simple and effective. The deck is simply supported during assembly, and the completed bridge is a continuous frame fixed on piled foundations.

Fabrication and Construction

Airports are extremely busy environments and it was essential that there was minimal disruption to airport operations during prefabricated in a yard on the airport boundary, specially equipped with all necessary infrastructure and located 1.5km away from the bridge final location. The 198m long structure was built in five component parts; the 164m long, 2000 tonne, central deck section; the two support piers; and the two 17m long end deck sections that would connect the bridge with the cores. The challenge was to ensure that these five components would fit perfectly together when brought into their final position, so that the taxiway would become a construction site for only 10 days.

Upon completion of assembly, the central deck section was fitted out with the secondary steel elements, glazing and services equipment before being made ready for the final move. Self-propelled modular transporters were used to manoeuvre each of the components and to place them exactly above the permanent foundations.

Conclusion

On 27 May 2004, exactly 10 days after it closed for the bridge erection, Gatwick’s taxiway Lima successfully reopened, and airline staff and passengers alike witnessed the unique spectacle of aircraft taxiing beneath the new structure, a tribute to the accuracy, ingenuity and skill of the design and delivery team. Much of the bridge success lies in the integration of architecture and engineering and the innovative methods of procurement, assembly and erection employed by the design and construction teams.

Judges’ Comment

s:

A landmark structure in one of the world’s busiest airports, providing a link for passengers between the North Terminal and the new satellite building.

The bridge, with a span of 198m and incorporating over 2,700 tonnes of steel, posed a major challenge, particularly in fabrication and erection. The main girders were originally started in the North of England, and later moved to the final assembly site 1.5kms away within the airport perimeter. The movement of the complete bridge structure, across taxiways to its final position, was a notable achievement.

The flowing, curved shape of the bridge provides a unique experience for passengers as they pass high above moving aircraft.

National Assembly for Wales, Cardiff Bay

National Assembly for Wales, Cardiff Bay

Architect

Richard Rogers Partnership

Structural Engineer

Arup

Steelwork Contractor (Roof)

S H Structures Ltd

Steelwork Contractor (Ancilliary)

Rowecord Engineering Ltd

Main Contractors

Taylor Woodrow Construction Ltd

Client

Welsh Assembly Government

“It’s almost impossible to find anyone with a bad word to say about the Senedd,” reported the BBC when the new building opened on 7 February 2006 for business. “Almost everyone I’ve spoken to is gushing with praise.”

The NAW’s Senedd (“Senate” in English) houses the Members’ debating chamber and committee rooms. The building’s three levels also provide open and inviting public space, with a café and galleries overlooking the formal business areas and Cardiff Bay.

The brief was to:

  • create a landmark building
  • signal a new style of government and a turning point in Wales’ history
  • reflect the democratic values of openness and participation

The response is a building whose undulating floating roof, held up with minimal visible effort, is suspended over a transparent enclosure atop a solid plinth. The plinth rises in terraces from the water’s edge, encouraging people in.

The plinth is a simple exposed concrete frame, wrapped in slate. Above the tall façades is the sculpted roof, its shape derived from the flow of forces within. This unique roof, with its beautiful cedar-clad soffit and the minimal tie-bars anchoring it to the plinth, will define the National Assembly for Wales for its users and electors.

As well as triumphantly meeting the client’s basic brief, the project has achieved:

  • delivery on time – £41M fixed-price Design and Build contract
  • unique architecture – “a great example of inspired and intelligent design”
  • maximum durability and flexibility for its minimum 100 year life
  • exemplary integrated and sustainable design, driven by low energy systems
  • a showcase for steel construction
  • a model for constructor/designer dialogue in maximizing economy and buildability
  • elegant steelwork detailing combined with fine workmanship

Steel showcase

Apart from the roof, exposed structural steelwork is used to exciting effect throughout: in the Members’ Gallery, stairs, internal bridges, glazed lift towers, bridge links to the adjacent office building, internal and external canopies and in the main façade’s mullions and transoms, in which steel’s strength and ductility ensure blast resistance, as they do in the roof, which could not sensibly have been built with any other material.

Fine detailing and workmanship is evident in connections such as the column end castings and tie bar anchorages.

Value and buildability

The roof is divided into six repeating domed bays. An early meeting between client, contractor and designers led to refinements which reduced structural weight and improved buildability and services runs without compromising the architect’s vision. Kalzip roofing sits directly on the structure, eliminating secondary steelwork.

The steelwork contractor pre-assembled the roof in the shop, minimizing space-take by building one bay at a time and using the common valley beams to ensure fit between bays. The roof comprises mostly short members, enabling the steelwork contractor to optimize sizes of prefabricatedsections for transport and then to combine these on site at ground level into the heaviest assemblies suitable for craneage, keeping lifts to a minimum.

Isometric drawings were created from the CAD model in order to illustrate the erection sequence and convey it to the site staff. Temporary works consisted only of sets of Tirfors. Access from MEWPS for erection was simple because the roof is a single layer structure. Despite apparently complex geometry, careful design and planning resulted in a roof which went together easily.

Durability and adaptability

The minimal internal vertical structure and loose fit design ensured future adaptability. The columns supporting the debating chamber are set back to enable expansion. Natural finishes including timber and slate were chosen for their low life cycle cost, durability and maintenance simplicity. The main enclosure is single glazed, avoiding double glazing systems’ short lives.

Structural steel is used at all levels from the undercroft to the roof, with virtually no applied fire protection.

Sustainability and integration

The building, designed to achieve a BREEAM “Excellent” rating, lies on a brownfield site. Natural ventilation is the default mode. Cooling and heating is supplied by earth heat exchangers. Additional heating is provided by a woodchip boiler. The exposed concrete frame moderates the environment, eliminating applied finishes. The rotating wind cowl ventilates the chamber via the funnel hung from the roof and admits daylight, reflected into the chamber by a conical mirror. The bulk of services are distributed in an undercroft which is roofed over with bespoke steel framed floors.

These systems will reduce running costs by up to 50%.

Conclusion

This building has raised the benchmark for public building procurement and for best practice in environmental design. At its formal opening on 1 March 2006, Her Majesty the Queen said to the Assembly Members: “The skill and imagination of those who’ve designed and constructed this remarkable example of modern architecture have given you a dramatic setting in which to work.”

Judges’ Comment

s:

Located in a prime position overlooking Cardiff Bay, this impressive building attains the quality and grandeur that is to be expected of a National Assembly. Yet it is the transparency and lightness that bring the local public closer to their elected delegates.

The roof appears to hover over the chamber, in an impressive display of steel structure and cedar cladding. These create a feeling of generous soaring space, with a sense of minimum structural effort.

Through the combination of excellent design, local materials and high construction skills, this landmark building is something of which the Welsh people can be justly proud.

Air Traffic Control Tower, Heathrow Airport

Air Traffic Control Tower, Heathrow Airport

Architect

Richard Rogers Partnership

Structural Engineer

Arup

Steelwork Contractor

Watson Steel Structures Ltd

Main Contractor

Mace Ltd

Client

BAA

This new state-of-the-art control tower was designed from the outset to combine functionality with style. At 87m it is more than twice the height of the existing control tower and will become the new ‘icon’ for Heathrow Airport. The slender mast supports the 18m diameter, 34m high control tower cab which provides the best possible vantage point for the air traffic controllers to manage operations once the new Terminal 5 is complete. Three pairs of 150mm diameter cables are fixed just below the cab level and are anchored at ground level to restrain the mast.

Construction strategy

The logistical challenge facing the project team was to design and construct the control tower on an island site surrounded by live runways in the centre of one of the world’s busiest airports. The solution was to pre-assemble as much of the tower away from the site as possible and then to ensure that the actual onsite installation was as quick as possible by minimising site welding using pre-engineered connections. This construction strategy allowed all the construction to take place at low level and the use of high crane jibs, which would have interfered with the radar operation in the airport, was minimised.

Mast details

The steel mast has a triangular cross section with a 1.4m radius to each corner and incorporates an internal and external lift, an escape stair and service risers all of which, other than the external lift, are squeezed into a cross section just 4.6m across. One of the drivers in the mast design was to keep the cross section within transportable limits to reduce the site assembly work.

Fabrication

The mast sections were fabricated in the Watson factory in Bolton. The decision was made at the outset to avoid site welding wherever possible and the mast joints were designed with internal flanges to be fully site bolted. The complete mast involves eight sections up to 15m long with a maximum individual weight of 85 tonnes. There were very strict tolerances upon straightness, rotational deviation and skin and vertical stiffener alignments which required the flanges on each section to be parallel to within a tolerance of +/- 0.5 across the entire width.

Pre-assembly

A pre-assembly area within the airport but some 1.4km away from the final location was chosen which, whilst still classed as ‘airside’, had far less operational restrictions than the final location at Terminal 3. The complete Control Tower Cab weighing some 860 tonnes along with the necessary temporary works to maintain stability was assembled here and then moved into position during a night-time closure of the runways

Moving into position

The move took place on the night 29 October 2004 after the last aircraft movements. Three computer-controlled hydraulically-powered flat bed units, each with 48 pneumatic wheels, were used to move the assembly a distance of 1,400m to the final location. The move, which was planned down to the smallest detail, was completed in just two hours.

The next day the assembly was lowered and connected to the first mast section which had already been positioned and was supported upon a series of jacks forming an hydraulic pin for use during the mast erection. Another set of hydraulic jacks, this time positioned to act horizontally, was used to align the mast sections and also provided lateral restraint to the structure during erection.

Jacking to full height

The jacking operation was one of the most complex ever carried out in the UK. A set of three strand jacks on 20m high temporary towers was used to lift the cab structure into the air while a section of mast was installed below. The jacks were reset and the operation repeated five times until the cab was at its final height of 87m.

During the lifting process three temporary guy cables were required to stabilize the top of the tower. There was a critical relationship between the strand jack lifting cables and the paying out of the temporary guy wires which was complicated by the constantly changing angle of the guy wires as they were paid out.

The temporary guys were then replaced by six permanent 150mm diameter cables and finally the entire 1,150 tonne structure was made secure by tightening the holding down bolts to a predetermined tension to obviate any fatigue loading on the bolts.

Judges’ Comment

This is an iconic project, planned and executed in an exceptionally demanding environment. The enormous, and growing, scale of operations at Heathrow (the busiest international traffic in the world) required an enlarged and improved control system, involving one of the tallest towers to date.

Steelwork was the material of choice, in terms of space requirement, construction and cost. The tubular plated main core is shaped to accommodate lifts, stairs, services and electronics, and the three stays ensure the rigidity criteria for the radar systems.

The logistics of fabricating the steel off site, and then transporting the elements (particularly the large lantern control pod) to the site across one of the main runways, were daunting. The sequential jacking of the modules into position was innovative and effective.

The challenges for the planning, engineering concept, design, fabrication and erection were exceptional.