Victoria canopy

An engineered piece of public realm artwork.

We worked alongside the cladding contractor, architect and artist Sophie Smallhorn to deliver an 800 square meter public realm canopy for Victoria, London. The canopy sits 10 meters above street level supported on one side by 62 Buckingham Gate and on the other by columns within a green wall alongside Westminster City Hall. The panes are hung underneath a steel structure and secured with a bolt and spider system. The movement, fabrication and cleaning/maintenance of the large canopy required careful coordination for an attractive solution.

We deduced an exceptional snow drift due to the two high buildings flanking each side of the canopy. A systematic approach was adopted using finite element analysis to ensure 10mm maximum heat strengthened laminated glass, a limit enforced for both visual quality and post breakage behaviour, could be used throughout the canopy. Each pane had different strength capacities and stresses due to the different potential gradient of snow load, varying spans and a portion of them being coloured through silk screening. We succeeded through the use of both PVB and SGP interlayers, bolt arrangements and relocation of frit position. The verification of the design was carried out during Stage E of the project.

The dynamic organisation of around forty different transparent colours of glass panes was created by artist Sophie Smallhorn. Regular factory trips scheduled in line with our sampling methodology for the bespoke colour manufacture were made to oversee the colour sampling. The application of ink onto the panes and the subsequent ‘baking’ of the glass in BGT’s furnaces was critical, since the translucency and consistency of some colours was difficult to achieve in the high temperatures required to heat strengthen the glass.

Our client: Ramboll | Client: Land Securities | Main contractor: Sir Robert McAlpine | Architects: Pelli Clarke Pelli with Swanke Hayden Connell Architects  | Artist: Sophie Smallhorn | Cladding contractor: Lindner Group | Glass processor: Bischoff Glass Technik (BGT) | Transparent ceramic frit: Rüger & Gunzel GmbH