Small But Perfectly Formed: Engineering Solutions

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Tuesday, September 10th, 2013
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Strand East Tower
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Whether because of challenging budgets or difficult sites, it can be just as difficult to engineer a small project as it is to engineer a large one. The results, however, can also be equally stunning to behold.

The success of the Castle Green Bridge at Taunton Castle by Flint & Neill Ltd is a combination of a careful choice of form and materials combined with a sensitive use of feature lighting, which together produce a high-quality end result that sits in perfect harmony with its historic surroundings.

The brief to provide a foot-way linking Castle Green and Goodland Gardens across the Castle moat was challenging as the area is Taunton’s historic heart and boasts a wealth of important listed buildings, not least of which is the Grade I listed Castle, which serves as home to the museum.

Castle Green Bridge Taunton

Castle Green Bridge Taunton

The bridge has been carefully designed to incorporate specially formulated slip resistant material. It does not lose its slip resistant properties when wet, unlike other hard surfaces such as concrete or natural stone. The foundations are designed as flexible ‘piles within piles’ with a Bentonite seal, allowing limited lateral movement.

The bridge provides a fully disabled access compliant link to replace the previous convoluted and restricted pathway.  The glass-sided bridge is a spectacular engineering feat as it seemingly floats across the Castle’s grass moat.

NCC Rideau Canal Skateway Chalets

NCC Rideau Canal Skateway Chalets

At almost eight kilometres in length, the Rideau Canal Skateway in Ottawa is the world’s longest naturally frozen skating rink, and attracts some one million visitors annually. The popularity of this leisure asset encouraged the National Capital Commission to upgrade the original aging access and changing facilities by providing a series of new attractive, seasonally removable chalets to comply with current DDA requirements and meet stringent energy consumption limits.

The structures, by Halsall Associates, present an exciting and impressive architectural statement that fits with the skating experience in the capital and blends with the architectural features of the canal – the bridges, the black metal railings on the staircases and the curved shape of the canal itself.

They’re also environmentally friendly, with a radiant heating system, increased insulation, integrated waste and recycling stations and durable, low-maintenance materials, including a lightweight skeletal steel frame, timber decking and sheathing and high-durability zinc roof cladding, that increase the lifetime of the buildings.

Strand East Tower at night

Strand East Tower at night

The Strand East Tower, part of the regeneration of the Sugar House Lane Island just south of the London 2012 Olympic Park, was designed by engineers eHRW and Wood Beton and completed from start to finish in under six months at a cost of just £700,000.

Standing 40 metres tall, the torch-like project is part sculpture, part structure. Made of a grid of crossed timber laths and 16 horizontal rings made of galvanised steel, the tower is narrower at its centre to create a hyperboloid shape. This generates a self-supporting viewing platform structure without any further internal support so the resulting sculpture is transparent.

The sculpture is visible from many points around Stratford. During the day, it has its natural colour, while at night it is lit by over 600 LED lights which are fully controllable both in terms of intensity and colour and which can be programmed to obtain a variety of light effects.

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