When the £380 million Bluewater shopping centre opens in just over a year's time, it will not only be Europe's largest but the second largest in the world after the Hall of Americas in Minneapolis. Now more than two-thirds complete, the centre will include almost 152,000m2 of lettable space in three anchor stores (John Lewis, House of Fraser and Marks & Spencer), three other major tenancies and 275 shop units, all surrounded by 13,000 parking places.
Situated close by the M25, just south of Dartford Tunnel, on a 100ha site, the centre is rising from the bed of a disused chalk pit and is surrounded on all sides by steep white escarpments and a series of four lakes. Even at this stage of its progress, visitors cannot fail to be impressed by the vast area of innovative glass and aluminium roofing currently being installed - including more than 16,000m2 of Hoogovens' KAL-ZIPregistered standing-seam roof covering.
The complexity of the interface between the glazed sections and the aluminiumroofing has presented new challenges to the company, with the requirement for curved sheets, tapered sheets and areas which are both curved and tapered.