Leisure projects dominate 2016 Structural Awards

The winners of The Structural Awards 2016 were announced on 11 November during a ceremony held at The Brewery in London, with several leisure projects celebrated for their design and engineering excellence.

The Grandview Heights Aquatic Centre in Surrey, Canada was honoured with The Supreme Award for Structural Engineering Excellence – one of the highest accolades in world engineering – for featuring the world’s most slender, long span timber catenary roof.

The aim of the awards, which are organised by The Institution of Structural Engineers in the UK, is to recognise the world’s most talented structural designers, showcase the projects that lead industry development, “and raise awareness of structural engineers’ role as the guardians of public safety and as creative, innovative design professionals.”

Previous winners include the Singapore Sports Hub, Taizhou Bridge in China and the London 2012 velodrome.

The Structural Awards 2016: The Leisure Winners

Supreme Award for Structural Engineering Excellence:

The Grandview Heights Aquatic Centre

The Grandview Heights Aquatic Centre

The project, envisioned by HCMA Architecture + Design and engineered by Fast + Epp, was constructed to meet the needs of a diverse population in Surrey, one of Canada’s fastest growing cities.

The undulating roof shape reduces the amount of air to be heated and de-humidified, cutting operational costs, while steel tube columns in the façade serve a double function, resisting wind loads and acting as ventilator ducts.

The Awards judges said: “We were struck by the undulating roof, which elegantly balances structural form with building use and celebrates the expressed materials. The adoption of timber in catenary permitted a structural depth of just 300mm for a 55m span - a design which defies convention and demanded design excellence.”

Award for Arts or Entertainment Structures:

Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center

Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center

Designed by Renzo Piano Building Workshop, with structural design by Expedition Engineering and OMETE, the centre is a new home for the Greek National Library and National Opera. It features a super-slender, lightweight ferrocement canopy roof raised on slender columns over the whole building, and carries a huge solar panel array.

The judges said: “This outstanding project stood with its courageous implementation of unusual construction materials and techniques. This building draws attention to its structurally expressive Acropolis-like photovoltaic-clad slender canopy.

“We were particularly captivated by the engineering solutions required to solve challenging seismic requirements, whilst also aiming for high socio-cultural ambitions and achieving exemplary sustainability credentials.”

Award for Pedestrian Bridges:

The Elizabeth Quay Bridge

The Elizabeth Quay Bridge

The prize for excellence in the structural design of pedestrian, cycle, equestrian or similar light bridge structures has gone to this project led by Arup. The 22m high cable-stayed bridge is the centrepiece of a wider scheme to revitalise central Perth, Australia by returning the city’s focus to the Swan River and providing a world-class waterfront destination.

The design benefited from the use of a range of digital tools. The analysis of the bridge’s dynamic response to footfall-induced vibrations was successfully confirmed by physical tests of the completed structure.

The judges said: “We were impressed by the contribution made by this elegant structure to the enhancement of central Perth. Successfully overcoming a number of technical challenges, the bridge will serve as a landmark for the community.”

Regional Groups Award Winner:

Information Age Gallery, Science Museum, London

Information Age Gallery, Science Museum

This prize, for projects that have a demonstrable benefit to the community and a positive impact on individual lives, was awarded to The Science Museum’s newest gallery, ‘Information Age: Six Networks That Changed Our World’, designed by Universal Design Studio with structural design by Heyne Tillet Steel.

The gallery explores the impact of communication technologies throughout 2,500sq m of new exhibition space. A new raised elliptical walkway, known as the ‘Whispering Gallery’, surrounds the double height space.

Award For Small Practices:

Expo2015 Hive


Wolfgang Buttress and BDP’s Hive pavilion from the 2015 Milan Expo was recognised for excellence in structural design executed by a small practice employing up to 10 staff.

Using geometry inspired by the honey bee, the Hive underwent four complete redesigns and 21 design iterations in five months, yet was delivered on time. Now on display in Kensington Gardens, the structure contains 60,000 unique aluminium parts, formed in a structural system of 31 stacked layers of alternating radial and circumferential trusses.

The judges said: “The structure provides a striking demonstration of the way in which the onward development of digital technology can take integrated structural analysis, design and fabrication.

“We were highly impressed by the way in which specialist material knowledge of glass and aluminium, combined with the digital coding expertise of a minimally-sized structural design consultancy enabled a dramatic aesthetic vision to be converted into reality. This was made possible through the development of an optimised 'kit of parts' structure that involves the use of over 169,000 component elements.

“We noted that this futuristic approach enabled the structure to be built not once but twice over, and with the prospect of being re-used repeatedly into the future.”

Award for Sports or Leisure Structures:

Etihad Stadium Expansion, Manchester

Etihad Stadium Expansion

A project to expand Manchester City Football Club’s stadium with a new South Stand, visualised by sports architects Populous with structural design from BuroHappold Engineering triumphed in the sports category.

After all phases of the expansion project have been completed the stadium will have a capacity of approximately 61,000, making it the second largest in the UK.

Engineers were required to modify an existing cable-net roof with complex geometry and load-paths while providing continued rain protection to fans. As many as 85 per cent of materials used for the expansion were locally procured.

The judges said: “A most impressive response to tricky engineering challenges that resulted in a stadium expansion with minimal spectator disruption and a complementary architectural form. A clever and seamless intervention in a geometrically complex cable net structure.”

2016 Structural Awards  structural engineering  architecture  design  The Institution of Structural Engineers in the UK 
The winners of The Structural Awards 2016 were announced on 11 November during a ceremony held at The Brewery in London, with several leisure projects celebrated for their design and engineering excellence. The Grandview Heights Aquatic Centre in Surrey, Canada was honoured with The Supreme Award for Structural Engineering Excellence – one of the highest accolades in world engineering – for featuring the world’s most slender, long span timber catenary
The Supreme Award for Structural Engineering Excellence went to The Grandview Heights Aquatic Centre in Surrey, Canada / HCMA Architecture + Design
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