Long-standing Desktop Engineering client Price & Myers was instrumental in making Terminal 2’s new sculpture Slipstream, an iconic piece of art that is intended to bring to life the glamour and excitement of air travel to Heathrow’s recently refurbished terminal.
Slipstream, designed by Richard Wilson, combines precision engineering with the sense of velocity and movement of a stunt plane. The sculpture fills the length of Terminal 2’s Covered Court, twisting through the atrium and physically integrating with the architecture. At over 70m long and weighing 77 tonnes, it is the longest permanent sculpture in Europe. Structural engineers Price & Myers and specialist fabricators Commercial Systems International (CSI) were tasked with making the sculpture. Slipstream cost £2.5m to build.
Price & Myers has developed a reputation for engineering geometrically and structurally complex projects. For many of its projects, including this one, it uses Digital Project – a software platform that supports the life-cycle of construction projects in a common digital environment, which over the years has revolutionised the aerospace, automotive and manufacturing industries. Digital Project supports the development of a comprehensive project database (Building Information Model – BIM) in a contractually controlled fashion, allowing teams to realise the full benefits of building information modelling.
In the case of Slipstream, each part was digitally modelled (30,000 unique parts). This ensured the artist’s design intent was retained during development. The use of the software meant that engineering issues, such as structural integrity, exact fit and alignment and centre of gravity, were fully understood and resolved digitally before the physical form, comprising 23 separate sections, was made, delivered and installed.
Richard Wilson said:
“I’m not a fan of airports. They can be spectacularly dreary places. There’s usually nothing to do, except shuffle around looking at ties. I thought this might make the journey a bit more exciting.”
Europe’s longest permanent sculpture; Slipstream, by Richard Wilson RA. It measures 80 meters in length, weighs 77 tonnes, and is suspended from 4 of the elegant buildings’ slim columns. Watch the video and see how the concept was turned into the reality.
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