London & South East Premier Construction RIBA Awards

Emirates Air Line

Premier Construction Hospitality Rail- No Photo
Written by Roma Publications

One of the newest links in London’s transport network opened up for public use in June last year lifting passenger s up to 90 meters above the River Thames for a 1.1km journey between the Greenwich Peninsula and the Royal Docks. 

The Wilkinson Eyre-designed scheme included a number of distinct elements, the design of which was given the opportunity to create a highly recognisable piece of infrastructure. The cable car is an important feature to the area on which it lands on either side of the River Thames, both in functional and in visual terms.

Wilkinson Eyre was commissioned, along with Expedition Engineering, as architects of the scheme after winning a design competition. The team had to fit the crossing in to a ‘corridor ’with numerous constraints, which included a minimum 54-metre clearance for Tall Ships above the Thames; constraints in plan and section relating to City Airport multiple landholdings; and existing infrastructure.

The sculptural form of the Emirates Air Line’s three towers makes an exciting addition to the London skyline. The open, spiraling structure merges engineering and aesthetics to provide a visually light construction that minimises perceived mass.

Wilkinson Eyre’s design for the terminals of the Emirates Air Line include a pair of visually light, stand alone glazed pavilions. The plan of the terminals reflect the paths of the cabins as they pass around the drive wheels at either end of the system, engaging with the machine aesthetic inherent to the buildings.

The lightweight, glazed upper storey of the design houses the boarding platforms, which cantilever outwards above the ticket office and other services, located in the core at ground level. The Emirates Royal Docks terminal houses the electric motor which drives the Emirates Air Line, while a garage for servicing the cabins occupies an adjoining building at the Emirates Greenwich Peninsula terminal.

Oliver Tyler, Wilkinson Eyre Architect’s Director for the project said;

“The Emirates Air Line makes a dramatic architectural statement and defines the emerging character of the Greenwich Peninsula and Royal Docks. The towers are a clearly identifiable symbol for the area and Emirates Air Line adds a dash of excitement to the experience which becomes a ‘must do’ experience for visitors.”

The Emirates Air Line is fully accessible to wheelchair users and the mobility impaired, with step free access in both terminals. Wilkinson Eyre developed plans for the Emirates Air Line with Expedition Engineering and Mott Macdonald for Transport for London.

The practice was instrumental in assisting TFL to win planning permission for the project from the London Boroughs of Newham and Greenwich as well as the approval of the Mayor’s office in 2011. The plans were taken to completion through a Design & Build contract run by Mace, with Aedas as delivery architect.

Advanced Glass Technology

Advanced Glass Technology is a bespoke window film specialist supplying and installing a full range of solar and security films for buildings across the globe.

Advanced Glass Technology has been operating since 2008, and they have provided their bespoke project services for numerous Government, Corporate and NGO’s in the UK , Jordan, Nigeria, Mauritania, Kosovo and Iraq.

In 2012 AGT was commissioned to solve a unique problem with the glass on the docking stations at the Emirates Air Line in London.

Commenting on his company’s involvement with the project, Managing Director, Martin Westney, said:

“We became involved in the project because the client had an issue concerning the application of safety film to the U Glass – a very unique type of glass being installed at both docking stations – so we were asked to come and review the project from a specialist point of view to find a solution.

“It was a prestigious project for us to be involved with (being part of the Olympic development) and set unique challenges, but our expert team completed the work on time and on budget.”

Martin added:

“At AGT we pride ourselves on the levels of service and professionalism we offer our clients, each job is bespoke and therefore has its own unique approach.”

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Roma Publications

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