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Cardboard city comes to the dome

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Public participation is the rationale behind the design of the Local Zone for the Millennium Dome, designed by Philip Gumuchdjian and Stephen Spence, with Japanese designer Shigeru-Ban as a consultant. 'It's about where you live,' said Gumuchdjian, explaining the decision to build the structure out of recycled cardboard, so that children could participate by sending in material.

The spiralling structure comprises columns ranging from 10.5m to 24m high, with smaller-diameter tubes used for the mullions and louvres. 'Cladding' is with 2m x 1.5m panels of two sheets of corrugated paper, with a sound- proofing layer between. Steel is used for bracing, a ring-beam, stairs and a platform. Gumuchdjian sees these as deliberately visually separate, like the access structure imposed on an archaeological excavation.

For Buro Happold, the structural engineer, the building is pushing technology to the limits, because the spiral winding of cardboard tubes means they are unable to support any axial load. The design therefore takes all the torsion and bending out of the loads transferred to the columns.

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