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Darwin cocoon structure wins at Concrete Society Awards

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The Natural History Museum’s Darwin Centre - an eight-storey concrete shell – has been awarded Overall Winner at the Concrete Society Awards 2009

Nicknamed ‘the cocoon’, the centre is a continuous, sprayed, reinforced-concrete shell which houses some of the Natural History Museum’s 200 million plant and insect specimens as well as a working area for research scientists. It is exceptional in allowing the public to interact with the collections as well as the scientists studying themselves. The 65m-long shell features double curve surfaces which could only be achieved with sprayed in-situ concrete, 250mm thick on average.

‘It is a striking but harmonious contrast to the 19th Century original’

This year’s awards mark the first time since 2006 that a building has been awarded the Concrete Society’s top accolade. The judging panel enthused about the structure, saying: ‘it is individual and extremely demanding to design and construct. It is a striking but harmonious contrast to the 19th Century original [building].’

The annually award ceremony aims to recognise ‘excellence in the use of concrete’. There were three main categories for awards - Building, Civil Engineering and Mature Structures:

Building winner

Cardiff Central Library

The six story library achieved a BREEAM ‘excellent’ rating, both at design and post-construction stages. It is the most sustainable building in the city centre and is set to become one of Cardiff’s most iconic structures. The concrete structure is exposed on the inside for thermal mass.

Civil Engineering winner

The Infinity Bridge, Stockton-on-Tees

The two-span bridge consists of two arches which ‘blend into a single form’ to support the ultra-slim 125mm concrete bridge deck. The design centres around the post-tensioned reinforced deck and uses an exposed aggregate concrete to make an impressive impact on the local skyline.

Mature Structures

No winner awarded

Although no one design was given the Mature Structures award, Centre Point in London was awarded a Certificate of Excellence. The concrete and glass office building was built in the 1960s directly above Tottenham Court Road tube station and was applauded for bringing ‘an instantly recognisable focus to Oxford Street’.











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