A London Crossrail station clearly demonstrates the qualities of glulam timber and its structural design capabilities
The new Foster + Partners designed Crossrail station at Canary Wharf in London has been built in the North Dock of West India Quay with four of the six station levels, forming a new retail destination. The roof level of the station includes a pavilion restaurant and a landscaped roof garden covered by an elegant, semi open-air lattice roof.
The design of the lattice roof itself is a fusion of architecture and engineering. Remarkably, despite the smooth curve of the enclosure, there are only four curved timber beams in the whole structure. To seamlessly connect the straight beams, which rotate successively along the diagonals, the design team developed an innovative system of steel nodes, which resolve the twist. The visual simplicity of the smooth curving timber lattice belies the geometric complexity of the structure, which is made up of 1,418 beams and 564 nodes, 364 of which are unique. Foster + Partners’ specialist modelling group helped to develop an innovative system to enable the roof components to be rapidly fabricated and accurately assembled on site. At night the structure is illuminated, creating a welcoming civic gateway to London’s growing commercial district.
Austrian glulam specialist WIEHAG have been working on site to assemble the glulam structure of the station roof. "The production started in June and the installation began in August," says Project Manager Daniel Nieberle.
The landscaped park on the roof of the shops and cafés will use native plant species and water features to help expand the ecological biodiversity of the Canary Wharf Estate and surrounding areas. The dramatic cantilevers at the East and West ends and the four “dog ears” forming the facade elegantly join the roof to the gallery.
“Only a relatively small part of the budget will be used for the glulam roof - but it’s still probably by far the biggest glulam contract in the UK to date” says Johannes Rebhahn, Head of International Project’s at WIEHAG.
WIEHAG deliver’s the glulam frame in a joint venture with the Austrian company Seele who include translucent ETFE pillows and weather louvre‘s. The client benefits from having less interface issues and having one contact for warranties for the whole envelope. WIEHAG / Seele developed a solution in close collaboration with Arup, CWCL and Fosters which fulfils Fosters design intent and CWCL’s budget.
Johannes Rebhahn said “Even in times of recession we are seeing an increased demand for ecological timber projects in the UK, which means timber wins an increased market share from the steel structure business.
After working successfully eight years in the UK market mainly from abroad we felt that it is time to react to the increased demand and to engage a local Sales Director. With John Spittle on board we have an experienced expert who can give an improved pre contract service in England & Wales”.
“Iconic landmark buildings like the Canary Wharf Crossrail station are an important reference for the whole UK timber industry. A picture tells more than a thousand words and clearly demonstrates the ability of glulam timber in combination with cutting edge structural design capabilities”, says John Spittle of WIEHAG.