The WI Product System gives traditional masonry construction incredible engineering and architectural versatility
Gold Medal Blockwork System: The Manta Ray roof to the London Aquatics Centre is a triumph in architectural and engineering terms. However, the success of the design will be judged by the users, the swimmers and spectators during the games and those visiting the facility in its legacy mode. Their judgement will be based as much on the environmental conditions as on the visual appeal.
The means of achieving good conditions are understood, but the construction of extensive internal blockwork walls with large openings for air conditioning ducting and other services is complex. The use of WI beams and columns by Pyramid Builders to subdivide the large spans and to withstand the internal design pressures is a world first. Bond beams have been understood for some time and used e.g. as lintels.
Similarly reinforced hollow blockwork is known to resist wind or earth loads. The WI system has taken this to another level. Innovative designs of the critical cleats and connectors transform standard techniques into a system that enables large walls with large openings to be designed and built retaining clean architecturally desired outcomes. There is no longer the need to interrupt large spans with intermediate columns, piers or reinforced concrete beams.
The design of the WI beams and columns is based upon an extensive programme of full scale testing. This led to the refinement of the shear connectors, cleats and restraints and the confirmation of the specification of the materials. Acceptance of the system has been helped by the publication of all of the research at international conferences and of independently produced Design Guides. The quality of this information has provided engineers with the confidence to design walls using the system and enables architects to achieve the anticipated performance at the Aquatics Centre and elsewhere. Blockwork completed February 2011.