A semi-permanent project in the London Borough of Newham by Studio Egret West has now been completed ready to welcome hordes of visitors to the Olympic Village this coming summer. Located adjacent to the 1970s Stratford Centre, ‘The Stratford Shoal’ is a quivering architectural installation by an exciting young practice that this week was awarded the title of ‘Commended’ in WAN’s 21 for 21 Award.
Stratford town centre has undergone a series of changes since it was selected as the location for the London 2012 Olympic Park, with a new bus interchange (visitors will be encouraged to access the Park via public transport during the Games), the introduction of the immense Westfield Centre, and plans to revitalise Stratford Station. Working with engineers Packman Lucas, Studio Egret West has inserted a series of semi-permanent trees to enliven the visual aspect of this aging urban area.
Formed from titanium-clad glass-reinforced plastic (GRP), the 73 leaves have been formulated by a complex process of BIM technology and physical prototyping to test the reaction of the leaves to varied environmental conditions. The anodised titanium cladding will change hue as it reflects the weather and bi-directional damping mechanisms at the back of the installation allow the leaves to flutter in the breeze to a certain extent.
David West of Studio Egret West details: “The Shoal was born of a desire to turn a negative into a positive. Instead of screening the back of house of the Stratford shopping centre, which now finds itself in the foreground, we have created a playful and dynamic edge that brings a moment of delight to those arriving in Newham.”
The leaves float freely from one another and are gathered together by steel trunks set in repeatable components, welded together where they touch for structural stability. Composite steel I-beams and flats hold the entire installation in place and provide a sense of permanence that was difficult to achieve given the mass of underground activity and henceforth the inability to place foundations in their desired locations.