Peak viewing opportunity at London’s O2 Arena – thanks to innovative Bath engineers

May 29, 2012

Bath-based engineering design consultants Buro Happold are helping create a unique walkway across the rooftop of London’s 02 Arena which will give visitors spectacular views across the capital.

The ‘Up at The O2 experience’, due to open by June 21, features a tensile cable and fabric walkway over the Thameside venue’s roof.

The only one of its kind in the world, the attraction begins on the south side of the O2 where lead contractors ISG have constructed a staircase and glass lift to the fabric walkway, which starts from a platform 7.5m above the ground.

It then rises to reach a 12m diameter viewing platform at the arena's apex – at 53m above ground level, it will be higher than the tip of Nelson’s Column – before descending the north side of the O2 where visitors return to ground level.

The project is the latest at the iconic building for Buro Happold which was lead consultant on the original Millennium Dome and its subsequent adaptation to become the O2 Arena.

Buro Happold’s Matthew Birchall, director for structures and the overall design team leader, said: “We were delighted to be invited to design this latest addition to the London skyline. The roof walk is a combination of architecture, engineering and extreme visitor experience, and represents the only installation of its kind anywhere in the world.”

The walkway is being installed by Bristol tensile construction specialists Base Structures to a design by London architects bblur.

02 Arena owner AEG's executive director for real estate Alistair Wood said: “This has been a highly-challenging project due to the unique nature of the structure and the immense time pressures.

“It’s times like these when you’re glad to be working with some of the most experienced contractors in this field. With completion around the corner, we’re really excited about the launch – it’s an attraction that promises ‘climbers’ an entirely unique and breathtaking experience on one of the world’s most iconic venues.”

Facts and figures

    * The walkway is 350m in length – 170m on the up-side and 180m on the down-side. (The down-side is longer because it goes down to the ground whereas the up-side begins from a raised platform.)

    * The walkway will be suspended 60m above the ground at its highest point.

    * A total of 1,175 sq m of bespoke, embossed PVC-coated polyester fabric will be used for the walkway.

    * More than 6,000 sq m of fabric will be used in total – including the walkway, under walkway mesh support and the full-length ‘wings’.

    * More than 3.2km of cable will run through the edges of the fabric walkway.

    * More than 7.6km of cable, weighing approximately 10 tonnes, will be used to suspend the walkway from the masts.

    * 3,800 metal clamps will attach the fabric walkway to the supporting cables.

    * Crossing the walkway will also be possible by wheelchair.

Photo: Base Structures Ltd


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