JMS untangles the complexities of a towering new London landmark

February 28, 2020 News

It takes more than a little engineering skill to turn a cardboard model into a towering 8-metre high sculpture without getting tied up in knots. In fact, when we were commissioned to do this recently for a major London housing development company, the team proved their skill and expertise yet again, even when the project threw up some unusual challenges.

When Art Fabrications approached us to help with the construction of a sculpture for the new Swann Housing 1500 property development in Blackwall Reach, London, they were looking for a reliable team to turn some ambitious and artistic designs into practical reality. They needed JMS to ensure the exciting ideas of the artist, Jo Chapman, could be translated into a significant landmark that would underline the sense of community, history and ambition that their new development represented.

Jo’s sculpture was inspired by the industrial heritage of the area, and Blackwall’s reputation in the shipping industry as the place where ‘unkinkable’ rope was made, which was vital for the safe deployment of lifeboats. The ‘Blackwall Hitch,’ which was a knot used to set up rigging when a lanyard was short, was chosen as the inspiration for the sculpture.

Getting the job done

JMS don’t see challenges, they find solutions. So whilst the challenges of limitations on possible building materials, issues with the location, and time constraints might have tied some engineer’s stomachs in knots, we were excited at the opportunity to create a memorable and unique structure that would stand proudly for many years to come.

Our first task was to scale up all the elements into the final design, and then carefully plan how the steel structure would be designed so it would be safe in windy conditions. We also had to think carefully about the foundation base, which was to be positioned over a storm water attenuation tank.

Another limitation was that we could not use standard steel sections, as they compromised the artistic vision of the project. However, we stretched our imaginations, and applied our skills to find an optimum solution that met both the artist’s requirements, and the rigorous safety standards required of such a structure.

And thanks to Art Fabrications for fabricating this project, everything came to pass.

Needless to say, we are very proud to have been involved in creating a new landmark in London, and think it will last for many years to come.

Are you getting tied up with a civil or structural engineering project? The JMS team are here to help.


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