Base Creates World-Class Tensile Fabric Entrance to Heathrow Terminal 5
“Heathrow Terminal 5 was a wonderful experience, not only providing Base with an opportunity to establish ourselves as a leading UK tensile fabric sub-contractor, but also to demonstrate the high quality results that can be achieved with complex and challenging landmark projects.”
Mark Smith, Director, Base Structures
Andy Dearman, Architect, Pascall and Watson Architects
Paul Yates, Laing O’Rourke
Mark Randerson,SH Structures
Mark Smith, Project Manager, Base Structures
Duncan Baird, Site Supervisor, Base Structures
• Terminal 5 is the newest terminal in the world’s busiest airport
• The client, BAA, is part of one of the largest transport companies in the world
• Over 4000sqm of tensile fabric
• Dramatic bespoke lighting scheme
• PTFE coated glass cloth – high translucency, excellent fire rating, superior strength
Base Structures were commissioned to design, manufacture and install the departures tensile canopy scheme, one that would provide a truly stunning entrance to the new Terminal. As one of the first areas of Terminal 5 encountered by passengers, it was absolutely essential that we created a world class structure that made an exceptional first impression.
The project consisted of over 4000sqm of PTFE tensile fabric canopies that extended the whole length of the set down lanes at the terminal entrance. Additional canopies in the package included the car park entrance structures that reflected the main scheme. The eye-catching design utilises several series of a twisted hypar arrangement tensioned on an architectural steel frame, the sweeping undulations of fabric serving not only as shelter for passengers underneath but also as an outstanding architectural flourish to the terminal building.
A major contribution to Base Structures winning this tender was by partnering with a well respected steel fabricator from the beginning of the project. As the value of the steel exceeded the fabric content a more competitive price was achieved by having the steel fabricator as the lead contractor.
PTFE fabric was chosen instead of PVC to bring a number of benefits including increased translucency, higher strength, improved fire rating and a lower susceptibility to dirt. Being far more difficult to manufacture and install than PVC however required specialist skills to ensure the longevity of the structure was not compromised; poorly manufactured and installed PTFE will quickly fail. The accuracy and quality of the design, manufacture and installation are critical to the success of this material; when all these disciplines combine successfully PTFE has an exceptional life span as a tensile fabric.
As well as supply and fit of the fabric membrane Base were also responsible for installing the steelwork, fitting steel cladding to the lighting arms, installing bespoke lighting equipment and co-ordinating all works on site. Our installation team were working on-site continuously for eighteen months, finally culminating in a seventeen man team for the last six months to ensure we could bring the project in on time.
The execution of the manufacture and installation reflected the high quality of the design and the expectations for the gateway to be the country’s new showcase terminal. The project was completed in plenty of time for the official opening of Terminal 5 by the Queen on 14th March 2008, finally opening to the public on 27th March 2008.