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Up at the O2

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ISG is the main contractor involved in developing the ‘Up at The O2’ project, a walkway built on the rooftop of the O2 arena which will allow people to view the skyline of London from a different perspective. With the Olympics now in full swing, the walk across the O2’s roof will provide an exciting attraction, to both tourists and residents alike.

We contacted ISG to tell us a bit more about this interesting project.

Contractors ISG, Base Structures and engineering consultancy Buro Happold have worked together to complete the challenging design and build programme for the new unique and daring visitor attraction at The O2, the world’s most successful music and entertainment venue.

The ‘Up at The O2’ experience, originally conceptualised by architects Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners with engineers Buro Happold, features a tensile cable and fabric walkway that will take climbers on a thrilling journey over the venue’s roof, that includes breathtaking views of the City from a purpose built viewing platform mounted on top of the iconic structure.

The groundbreaking roof walk project, a partnership between AEG, owner and operators of The O2 and O2, the UK’s leading communications company, is unlike anything else ever constructed in the UK and draws on all of the delivery team’s specialist experience with large scale tensioned cable and fabric structures.

The climbing experience will begin on the south side of The O2 where ISG has constructed a staircase and glass lift connected to a platform 7.5m high. From here the fabric walkway, built by Base Structures and designed by Buro Happold with bblur Architects, suspends above the existing fabric structure to its apex with a lanyard cable and hand rail running the full length of the walkway. Climbers will be provided with ‘roof suits’ and harnesses at a pre-tour induction, enabling them to be attached directly to the cable as they climb to the top. At The O2’s apex, 53m above ground level, there is a 12m diameter viewing platform with a panorama plate to direct climbers to key London landmarks. The roof walk then extends to the north side of The O2 where climbers descend to ground level.

Sustainability is also an important aspect of the attraction; the building services systems have been designed to minimise carbon emissions and solar PV units have been installed on the roofs of each of the north and south pavilions to meet the 20% energy renewables target. All internal and external light fittings are LED, further improving energy efficiency.

The high level of accessibility for ‘Up at The O2’ was inspired by Helen Keller’s famous words; “Life is either a daring adventure or nothing”. Buro Happold’s Inclusive Design experts worked closely with the client and disabled groups (The O2’s All Access Advisory Forum) to question assumptions about climbing and to create an attraction that is truly inclusive. A key driver in its delivery has been to make the experience exciting, fun and safe for everyone within the technical constraints imposed by both equipment and safety. Step-free access means that anyone, including wheelchair users who enjoy the demands of climbing, will have the opportunity to experience this amazing challenge.

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This project was assessed against the Site Code of Considerate Practice by Scheme Monitor David Cowperthwaite, who was given the opportunity to walk up to the top of The O2 and look out across the City’s skyline.

David said: “It was a great pleasure to be involved in visiting this interesting project. ISG, along with AEG, have maintained excellent standards of consideration throughout the construction of the walkway, performing beyond compliance against the Scheme’s Site Code of Considerate Practice.”