The creation of a major new extension to the check-in concourse of Terminal 4 at Heathrow Airport, London presented many major challenges for the project M&E engineers, Morgan Sindall Professional Services.
A very early and key consideration for the team was how to deliver project architect, 3D Reid's, vision for a striking building façade, taking into account the clients' commitment to energy efficiency, and the unique security challenges posed by an airport terminal building.
Acknowledging that the façade is the point of entry for most passengers into the terminal, and that a terminal building can be a potentially confusing environment to unfamiliar passengers, the aspiration was for a solution that was fully glazed for the entire 180 metre length of the extension. As well as providing an attractive ‘shop window' for the terminal, the transparency helps to promote intuitive wayfinding to the passengers, speeding their passage through the check-in process.
To respond to the challenge, the team undertook a comprehensive façade and canopy modelling exercise to ensure that the overall solution maximised the building energy performance, whilst creating maximum daylight contribution from the South-East facing aspect. Materials were tested against these criteria and additionally against the requirement for the façade to resist a bomb or projectile attack.
The security considerations resulted in the design solution adopting inflated ETFE as the primary material for the main canopy solution - to mitigate the potential effects of shrapnel. The energy modelling of the canopy resulted in a polka dot obscuration being screen printed onto the ETFE sheets to precisely control the thermal performance of the building, whilst adding some visual interest.
The completed building benefits greatly from the early façade modelling work, providing a striking welcome to Terminal 4 and providing client and operator, BAA with a concourse which, despite being 2,700m2 larger than before, actually uses less energy than previously and provides a more comfortable environment for the travelling public than previous users of Terminal 4 would have thought possible.