Appointed by Mace, the global consultancy and construction business, BakerHicks designed the highly complex cable tension structure that suspends the 300 umbrellas above the Heathrow Terminal 5 Arrivals forecourt. Spanning a 70m x 40m area, the engineered web comprises an impressive 3.5km of cable and weighs approximately one tonne. Working closely with the cable suppliers, Ormiston Wire Limited, BakerHicks were also responsible for the design of all cable connections. Computer analysis modelling was used to predict deflections and elongations in the cables, and thorough tests on scale models were also carried out to assess how the structure would react in various weather conditions, ensuring the safety of all passers-by.
With the project needing to be designed and constructed in a tight timeframe, BakerHicks worked closely with the contractor, Meads Construction Limited, to develop the construction sequence and tensioning requirements. All of the structural elements in the design were developed in conjunction with ongoing discussions with the contractor and suppliers to ensure the design was practical and all materials could be procured at short notice. The BakerHicks team also assessed the structural capacity of the existing ground floor structure and superstructure to enable the cables to be connected to the protruding steels of the Terminal 5 building, over 40m above ground level.
The installation, which will be in place until October, celebrates the gifts, talents and employability of those with neuro-developmental disorders. The project’s name stems from the use of ADHD and autism as ‘umbrella’ terms for many neurological conditions, reframing them for children as ‘Super Powers’ with the umbrellas celebrating the unique gifts of every child. This is the first time the ‘Umbrella Project’ artwork has been available to view in London or at an airport.