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What’s Hot? Silvertown Tunnel, Pooley Bridge and 1 Undershaft

Here’s our pick of what’s hot right now and under the spotlight in the Architecture, Engineering & Construction arena!

Silvertown Tunnel – the solution to traffic congestion in East London?

Last November, the contract to build Silvertown Tunnel was awarded by Transport for London. The tunnel will be built under the River Thames in East London, connecting the Greenwich Peninsula with West Silvertown. The winning bidder – the RiverLinx consortium – will be responsible for the design, build, finance and contract maintenance. The RiverLinx consortium is formed by Ferrovial subsidiary Cintra, Bam PPP PGGM, Macquarie Capital and SK E&C.

The main objective of this project is to relieve congestion in the Blackwall Tunnel. The plan is that once Silvertown Tunnel is opened in 2025, both tunnels will be tolled. The new Silvertown Tunnel will link the A102 road on the South of the Thames with the A1020 Silvertown Way to the North.

As part of the DCO process, TfL has committed to deliver a wide range of improvements and measures to reduce the impact of the new tunnel and support the wider local area. The £1bn project includes a 1.4km twin-bore tunnel under the Thames together with 600m of access roads. The approved design includes two 11.45m internal diameter bores, each 1km long, with two lanes per tunnel. The cut and covers on the approaches will be 200m long. If everything goes to plan, we should be able to drive through this tunnel somewhere in 2025.

Pooley Bridge – the first of its kind in the UK

Storm Desmond damaged more than 700 bridges when it hit Cumbria back in December 2015. The storm was described as a 1 in 700 years storm – a real catastrophe. And one of the most affected bridges was Pooley bridge, which collapsed completely. The original Victorian bridge was built in 1764 and had piers in the river to support its three arches.

But catastrophes and challenging times can also be seen as opportunities. In this case, it was an opportunity for innovation. The new bridge will be a composite bridge, with stainless steel and concrete. This will be the first stainless steel road bridge in the UK. It’s currently being constructed with a budget of £5M for nothing less than 450-ton of steel and concrete. The new single span bridge will consist of a concrete top slab, a duplex stainless-steel structure in the middle, and a concrete bottom slab connected to the steelwork. Thanks to the innovative shape of the steel structure, it will be flood-proof.

The bridge was designed by Knight Architects. The main driver behind the innovative design was to eliminate the risk of scour associated to having piers in the river. This way, a single span solution was the winner to reduce maintenance and make it flood-proof. But the real highlight of the structure is that it’s made with stainless steel. The material’s light weight will allow the installation of the bridge in one single lift, thus minimising disruption to the local community. Also, the longer durability of the stainless steel justifies its higher price.

1 Undershaft – the Shard’s little brother?

The 1 Undershaft tower will become the second highest building in London. In fact, it will be only 2.1m shorter than the Shard, hence why some call it ‘the Shard’s little brother.’ It’s also commonly known as the ‘Trellis Tower’ because of its external cross bracing. With 305m of height and 74 floors, the tower will be built in the City of London financial district.

The 1 Undershaft will accommodate 6,500m2 of office space. Architects Eric Parry are responsible for the design, with WSP providing structural support. The proposal was approved in November last year. The chief architect said: ‘This building will set new standards for the City in terms of comfort, quality, environmental sustainability and putting the public at the heart of the tower. Most tall buildings are used Monday to Friday but 1 Undershaft will be used seven days a week, with the public able to enjoy the new public square, viewing platform and restaurant every day.’

Although the original plan was for the tower to be higher, the Civil Aviation Authority limited the height to avoid intruding on flight paths. Also, the initial design included a crown to resemble Cleopatra’s Needle, but it was rejected by City planners. One of the main selling points of the skyscraper is that it will provide a significant amount of public space to be enjoyed by everyone. Because of this, the core of the building had to be located to one side. And this is the main reason why the bronze diamond shaped cross bracing is required. Even if it’s not as tall as the Shard, the 1 Undershaft will have an undeniable impact on London’s skyline.

What other architectural, engineering and construction projects do you think are trending this month? Leave a comment below!


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