menu
  • ETFE cushion roof over conference centre
  • ETFE roof with ventilation actuator
  • ETFE cushion at night

As part of the Phase 2 construction at ExCel Conference Centre, Architen Landrell was contracted to design, manufacture and install three ETFE cushion rooflights each covering an area of 25m x 25m (615sqm each) – currently the largest ETFE cushions in the world!

A skylight with integrated venting was the design brief at ExCel Phase 2, so when Grimshaw Architects and contractors Sir Robert McAlpine approached Architen Landrell they had already considered a wide range of options. When asked about the scheme, Grimshaw Architects describe it as intending to look ephemeral and unfinished, commenting that there is an emphasis on internal special relationships and a more playful approach.

In contrast to glass or even traditional tensile fabric structures, ETFE cushions offered an exciting opportunity to integrate an element that was aesthetically different and to create an ultimately modern and clean looking space. The rooflights allow a light and open feeling to be created in the exhibition space below, let in maximum natural light and serve as a surface for internal uplighting.

In addition, Grimshaw Architects had used ETFE in the past and therefore understood the intrinsic benefits of the material, including its light weight, high translucency and flexibility as a material.

As the largest individual ETFE cushions installed in the world the size of the cushions in itself posed a challenge for manufacture and installation. Nearly 2000sqm of material was patterned, cut and welded in our factory before being transported to site for installation.

Extensive research and development was also carried out in order to design and build state of the art air venting actuators concealed in the structures headring. The actuators are self monitoring i.e. they constantly adapt their position and speed of movement to maintain a level headring and avoid twisting. In the event of a fire the conic shape of the ETFE cushions helps to create a chimney effect and draw smoke up and away from the exhibition floor at which point the actuators, even without a power supply, will open and ventilate the fumes.

However, the real complexity of the rooflights at ExCel lay in the design development stage. Not just ETFE cushions, the rooflights are formed as a hybrid between a traditional tensile cone formed by the inside layer of the cushion and a pneumatically supported membrane formed by the upper layer.

This combination of shapes made the cushions particularly difficult to analyse, pattern and build. We worked closely with structural engineers Momentum and fabric engineers Tensys to achieve a system which was both structurally capable of taking the required loads and aesthetically pleasing.

The scheme as a whole has been widely acclaimed by those involved and the wider industry media. Architects Journal describes it as engaging with the limitations of the commercial exhibition centre as a building type . We are intensely proud of our involvement in this project and our achievement of pushing the boundaries of ETFE cushions.

 

Images courtesy of Edmund Sumner (c)

Related Projects

Clear domed ETFE roof
North Swindon School

At a brand new secondary school in Swindon, Architen Landrell were approached to design, manufacture...

ETFE roof for school
Greenhill Drumpark School

North Lanarkshire Council approached Architen Landrell to supply a tender for the regeneration of Greenhill...

Tensile fabric roof covering school atrium
Nottingham High School for Boys, ETFE Roof

A spacious, airy and modern facility was the brief when GF Tomlinson and Maber Architects...

Contact Us

+44 (0) 1291 638 200

mail@architen.com

Architen Landrell, Station Road, Chepstow, NP16 5PF, UK

map

CPD_sessions
CPD Presentations
Find out more
architen_brochure
Product Brochure
Download
Sign Up for the Architen Newsletter
Architen Landrell, Station Road, Chepstow, NP16 5PF, UK t: +44 (0) 1291 638 200 e: mail@architen.com
SCS_Logo_1 CHAS_Logo_2 Logo_3 SMAS_Logo_4 TENSINET Logo_5 iso_1006 constuction_line_logo constuction_line_logo
youtube linkedIn twitter facebook
© 2017 Architen Landrell