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AIA UK Building Tour - Crossrail, Canary Wharf

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AIA UK Building Tour - Crossrail, Canary Wharf

Fiona Mckay

The tour was led by Jonathan Rabagliati of Foster + Partners who worked on the project for over eight years since its inception. Foster + Partners were asked by Canary Wharf Group to create something different from the steel and glass buildings which define Canary Wharf. The architects developed the project around a park – elevated over the dock and partially sheltered from the harsh surroundings. The use of heavy timber and ETFE inflatable cushions for the roof structure brings a sense of nature and lightness to the park.
 
Jonathan explained how the arched ends of the roof structure reference the nearby Canary Wharf tube station also by Foster + Partners which features two similarly shaped canopies (of glass) and a park on top. The form of the new roof structure was originally designed with a more expressive shape, but was simplified through value engineering during the 2008 world financial crisis.
 
Parametric modelling was essential to the design and fabrication of the complex roof structure, even with the simplified form. Scripting was used to document and validate the thousands of unique steel nodes which were fabricated through an automated welding process. The laminated timber members were fabricated using a scanning technique to ensure structural and visual consistency through each member. ETFE cushions and aluminium copings were detailed to protect the timber structure from exposure to UV and moisture.
 
Beneath the roof are housed three levels of retail and restaurants, and four levels of train station below grade. Several architects worked on different areas of the project including Adamson Associates on retail, and Tony Meadows Associates on the below ground station which was under construction, and is due to open in 2018.
 
The tour concluded with drinks (and dinner for some) beneath the arched roof at the Big Easy.

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