'Bridge of Aspiration', Royal Ballet School, Covent Garden
This brilliant design, by Wilkinson Eyre with engineer Flint and Neill, has produced an exquisite bridge across a narrow street, bringing to reality the ballet school's desire to have a link expressing movement. The simple idea of a rotating box was a complex structure to achieve; aluminium played a key part in it.
The material was preferred to stainless steel in relation to the spine beam, which carries the bridge, after a weight/ strength/cost analysis. The beam comprises an aluminium box made from plates welded into sections, which are then bolted together.
It was produced using complex CAD geometry and hand-crafting, initially in Austria and then at Park Royal. The accuracy of the design and the quality of the prefabrication allowed installation of the bridge as a single piece in under two hours. The specialist cladding supplier was GIG Fassadenbau.
Aluminium was also used for portal frames that support the glazing - anodised extrusions in effect form I-section beams to which laminated glass and timber are fixed.
Externally the extrusion is capped to present a fine edge; internally it provides a selffinished conduit for light fittings in each frame. The aluminium beam acts as a supply and return plenum in winter, when fancoil units located within the bridge floor void warm the space.
lThis entry also won the Award for the most innovative use of aluminium in a structure or building element.