Tower Wharf, UK


Wirral Waters is said to be the largest regeneration project in the UK and will eventually transform more than 500 acres of Birkenhead’s former docks into a new business and leisure destination. It is also set to become one of the most sustainable enterprise zones in the country as well as an exciting place to live, work and spend time. Design plans envisage an area that is not over reliant on the car and to achieve this aim the construction of a tram network to link into the existing Mersey rail system has been mooted.

One of the scheme’s first office developments is known as Tower Wharf. It is a four-storey building aiming for a BREEAM ‘Excellent’ rating and will offer 4,450m² of flexible Grade, an open plan office space. The building includes a top floor roof terrace affording views over the adjacent former dockside waterfront and the extensive landscaping that will eventually surround the structure. This project will deliver much needed accommodation and employment opportunities for a scheme which will boost business and generate investment into the area, as per Eric Wright Construction Operations Director Jonathon Rayner. Working on behalf of the main contractor Eric Wright Construction, Leach Structural Steelwork has fabricated, supplied and erected 375t of steel for Tower Wharf. Using one 35t-capacity mobile crane for the entire steel erection programme, Leach also installed 6,000m² of metal decking and two precast staircases during its eight-week onsite programme. A steel construction solution was chosen for this building as it was the most economical. The steel frame is founded on piled foundations and has been designed and erected around an irregular grid pattern to suit the architect’s layout. However, the majority of the grid is based around columns set at 7.5m centres, which suits the curtain walling mullions across the building. The structure is approximately 98m long × 16.5m wide and internally it has a predominantly open plan design, while externally it will be fully clad with glass.

The structure references the materials and proportions of the surrounding buildings, with its recessed ground floor and the stepped back roof profile creating a shape reminiscent of the trade vessels that once would have stood in the nearby docks. Structural stability is achieved by the use of moment frames, and bracing located in lift and stair cores. Additional stability is derived from feature architectural Macalloy cross bracing that has been installed at both end elevations. This will remain visible within the completed scheme, while internally further Macalloy bracing, around staircases, will also be left exposed. This is of huge importance, given that it kick starts the regeneration of Wirral Waters. It is a significant step in Council’s vision to regenerate Wirral, and demonstrates that even at a time of such economic difficulties it continues to make significant progress towards the delivery of their ambitious investment strategy. The challenge is to ensure this exciting vision delivers real benefits for residents and businesses of Wirral and the Liverpool City region.

Taoyuan International Airport Terminal 1


Constructed in 1979 by the highly respected Taiwanese structural engineer T. Y. Lin and influenced by Eero Saarinen’s Washington Dulles International Airport, Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport Terminal 1 featured a pre-stressed structure that was state-of-the-art at the time. However, after thirty years of use, Terminal 1 was operating over capacity and had become outdated well before its time.

The regeneration aimed not only to re-establish a new main gate for the country, but, also to expand the terminal to said requirements without tearing down the existing structure. This enabled the project to retain continuity with the past. Thus, it was a rejuvenation plan to amalgamate the old and the new. Old Terminal 1 had been handling an estimated five million passengers annually. However, due to the subsequent rapid growth of passengers, a plan to allow fifteen million annually was required.

In this project, a method was designed to frame the large roof – which contained the outdoor terrace that the visitors could not access – on both wings to widen the space without constructing any new floors, while simultaneously providing a seismic reinforcement to the structure of the existing Terminal 1. That is how the terminal’s characteristic diagonal pillars, which used to line the exterior walls of the former building, were assimilated to its interior. Hence, these pillars were converted to the main element of interior space from that of the exterior.

The rows of roof girders utilize catenary curves and sunshade louver tiles are placed atop to mutually clamp the girders together. This method of ‘clamping’ provides stability against seismic forces and wind pressure while also presenting the tiled roof of traditional East Asian architecture through modern architectural construction.

Since the former terminal exhibited a state of chaos with an intermixing of cars, buses, and taxis, this project made use of a dual layer of traffic lanes, which doubled the capability of traffic processing. Because these improvements were made in quick response to new circumstances while also utilizing the existing structure, the building cost as well as the construction waste was reduced to one-twentieth when compared to a case that requires demolition and new construction.



Herzog & de Meuron has completed a monumental new stadium in Bordeaux framed by 900 slim white columns, one of the key venues for next year’s Euro football championship. The 42,000-seat Nouveau Stade de Bordeaux will host five matches during the UEFA Euro 2016 competition, and will become the home stadium of French team FC Girondins de Bordeaux. Despite its size, Swiss firm Herzog & de Meuron wanted the arena to feel light and elegant, so it developed a design inspired by the slender pine trees of the Landes Forest, south of the city.

Slender columns support a sharp-edged rectangular roof, which steps down to create the curved bowl of the stadium. This shape appears from certain angles to be mirrored by the grand staircase below, which provides the entrance for spectators. The building’s purity and geometrical clarity inspires a sense of monumentality and gracefulness. One might be tempted to draw a comparison with a classical temple, but, unlike the elevated plinth of a temple, the grand stairs of the stadium blur the boundaries between inside and outside.

The building is located on the northern outskirts of Bordeaux, next door to the 1980s-built Stadium Vélodrome. This prompted the decision to create a building with geometries derived from the surrounding landscape rather than the historic city center. Special attention was paid to the integration of the structure into the grand landscape. The meticulous geometrical arrangement of the bowl structure and columns reflects the pattern created by trees and paths. Much of what is perceived as elegance in Bordeaux, results from its unity and homogeneity of scale and materiality and from its precision and purity of form.

The columns surround all four sides of the structure. A large ribbon-like structure weaves back and forth among them to create a series of food stalls and toilet facilities around the perimeter of the arena. The bowl itself comprises two tiers of seating, divided up into four sections. Like most modern stadiums, these seating areas are sheltered beneath the roof, while the pitch is entirely exposed to the elements.

The building’s structure is not visible from inside the bowl as the intention was to avoid distracting the spectators’ attention. Instead, a layer of acoustic panels help to improve the quality of sound. Other facilities, including VIP rooms, media areas and team changing rooms, are contained with a plinth set directly below the bowl. There is also a 200-seat restaurant and a team merchandise shop. The architectural simplicity and pure lines of the bowl and its base ensure smooth spectator flows and ease of orientation.

UBER’S Headquarters, San Francisco


Architecture studio SHoP and interior design firm Studio O+A have unveiled plans for a glassy new mini-campus for the firm behind the Uber taxi app. The two studios were selected by Uber to design its new home in the Mission Bay neighborhood of San Francisco – the city that has become the unofficial capital of America’s tech industry.

The 423,000-square-foot project (39,300 square metres) includes an 11-storey tower, connected to an adjoining six-storey building with an almost fully transparent facade. Both will occupy currently empty plots on Third Street, divided by a smaller side road. “At a time when many tech companies are creating campuses far from city centers, Uber has made a commitment in its new home to support the continued vitality of the urban environment and to help complete a thriving mixed‐use neighborhood,” said a statement from New York-based SHoP Architects.

A network of circulation and gathering spaces – dubbed “The Commons” by the architects – will serve a wide variety of functions and is designed to help connect the buildings to the street. The multi‐storey Commons will front both buildings on Third Street, creating a kinetic experience that SHoP principal Chris Sharples and O+A principal Denise Cherry liken to the experience of San Francisco itself. The two structures are connected by three double-level bridges that span over the road that divides the site, called Pierpoint Lane.

The Commons continues to form the essential circulation of the 11‐storey structure, crossing above Pierpoint Lane as three angling glass and steel bridges – an homage to the neighborhood’s history as a center for shipping and commerce. This new workplace also marks a departure from the growing trend of an entirely open-plan office. Instead, work stations are arranged in a series of smaller neighborhoods, each with access to shared support and collaborative work zones. Both buildings will also have shops integrated at ground level, and a nearby park will also be overhauled to include a daycare centre.

Amsterdam Steel Bridge 3D Printed


To complete the bridge, multi-axis industrial robots will be fitted with 3D printing tools and controlled using custom software that enables the robots to print metals, plastics, and combinations of materials. Dutch construction company Heijmans will be completing a steel bridge in the center of Amsterdam using what on paper seems like a futuristic method: with a 3D printer, robots, and steel. The project was initiated by Dutch startup MX3D using a design by Joris Laarman, the company said in a statement. The bridge project, in partnership with Autodesk and a number of other supporters, is possible thanks to MX3D’s earlier efforts to 3D print using six-axis robotic arms.

These computer-guided robotic arms tipped with welders to 3D print a steel bridge in midair over a canal in Amsterdam. The robots print using steel, stainless steel, aluminum, bronze, or copper. They make lines in the air, without the need for support structures, by sequentially building welds in any direction in space. And eventually they’ll even print tracks to move along as their creation materializes below. The new technique is cost-effective and scalable, more than current 3D printing methods, and offers creative robot production solutions for art, construction, and more. The future of digital production and local production is in the new craft. This bridge will show how 3D printing finally enters the world of large-scale, functional objects and sustainable materials while allowing unprecedented freedom of form.

Opening in September 2015 is a visitor center that will give the public access to the project’s progress. MX3D and the city of Amsterdam will announce the exact location soon. In fall of 2017, they’ll set up robots on opposite banks of a canal in Amsterdam (final design and location TBD) and hit the print button. Over the course of two months, the robots will simultaneously print the bridge from each bank, eventually meeting in the middle to join the halves. This being the Netherlands, MX3D decided that a bridge over an old city canal was a pretty good choice. Not only is it good for publicity, but, if MX3D can construct a bridge out of thin air, it can construct anything. The finished bridge will measure 24 feet long. Constructed using a steel composite specially developed at the University of Delft, it will be as strong as any other bridge and able to handle regular foot traffic for years to come.



The three Rotterdam bus shelters were designed by Dutch studio Maxwan with concave and convex razor-thin rooftops reminiscent of billowing fabric. According to Maxwan, the three 5-by-10-metre canopies, which measure just 9.5 millimetres in thickness, are the world’s thinnest steel roofs. The pastel-pink Bus Station Canopies are located on a patch of tarmac outside a new bus terminus in Rotterdam Central District, providing seated shelters for 40 waiting passengers. The canopies are raised up on four flat-steel columns. One arches upwards in the centre, while another bows downward – both are intended to look like fabric moving in the wind. The caving helps makes the canopies structurally sound, allows for a thinner roof, and is beautiful, and the studio nicknamed the shelters Pillow and Hammock after these forms.

Produced by Dutch firm Studio Metalix, the curving surfaces are finished with glossy pastel-pink paintwork. The tables, treated with a skin-tone finish, are warped silk-gloss surfaces that conjure up images of suspended cloth and wind-blown sails, despite weighing five tonnes each. According to studio founder Rients Dijkstra, the pink paintwork was a purely emotional choice. Pillow and Hammock are part of a major overhaul of the Dutch railway system, including upgrading stations in Amsterdam, The Hague, Utrecht and Rotterdam. An original brief from the City of Rotterdam outlined the need for 16 standard-issue bus shelters to serve a newly opened bus station. Maxwan instead created just two that fitted the same brief to shelter 40 people sitting and more standing for the same budget. The efforts at creating quality environments related to public transport should not be limited to the station building itself.