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London Rebuilt

Jan 12 2007 13:49
Andrew Kosinski
How civil engineering 1st and 2nd years rebuilt London on the Queen's Lawn.
The Queen?s Lawn fills for the main event

Seventeen of Central London?s most well-known structures descended on the Queen?s Lawn on the afternoon of the 10th November. Not in a literal sense of course ? but as the climax to this year?s buddy event. The first and second years presented the fruits of six weeks labour to the judging panel and the general public, in the style of a walkable, 3D quasi-scale map of London.

Dr Sunday Popo-Ola, co-ordinator of creative design in the department, was certainly impressed, hailing the "amazing quality" of the majority of the projects. He said that most of the groups had understood and represented the inherent structure of the subjects in their models, a key marking criteria for the models.

The Millenium Dome

Each group consisted of five first years and five second years. The first years in each team were tasked with building a scale model of the full structure, primarily capturing the aesthetics and appearance. The second years were to focus in detail on a key structural component and create a working representation of it. The aim was for a healthy exchange of ideas between the year groups. Doug White of the first year worked on the Hungerford Bridge model and commented, ?The second years seem wise, and have certainly passed on their wisdom?. However, it appeared that in some groups, minimal contact was made between the year groups.

Previous buddy events have included building 0.5m bridge spans out of paper to support a Thomas the tank Engine train filled with a cargo of sugar, the construction of a huge Buckminster-Fuller cardboard geodesic sphere outside Tanaka, and a series of presentations on London landmarks. Richie Parasram of the 2nd year thought this year?s to be better than last year?s ?by a country mile?, which seemed to reflect popular opinion.

Model of St Paul's Cathedral

Some teams had to overcome some interesting technical problems, and there was a variety of excellent solutions. The Wembley Arch replica had to be shortened, as it was buckling under its self weight in its original form. The St Paul's Cathedral group circumnavigated the problem of creating a dome by using radiating strips of paper to good effect. The second year Millennium Bridge model of a portion of the bridge deck featured a superb replica of a mass damping system, which was introduced to the real bridge to reduce synchronous lateral excitation; ?wobbling? in layman?s terms. These replica dampers were constructed from corrugated cardboard and clearly appeared to dampen vibrations.

Best in class - The Hungerford Bridge

So, which model wins the Livic editor's choice award, for which the sole prize is kudos? For first years, I was most impressed with the aesthetics of the Emirates Stadium, and the quality of the Millennium Dome. However, the elegance of the Millennium Bridge, together with its sewing thread suspension cabling takes my award. In the second year category, the Millennium Bridge showed great understanding of the bridge mechanics (and was fun to play with), but the quality of craftsmanship and comprehensive recreation of the structural system of the Hungerford Bridge wins best-in-class.

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