Balancing the Baby Shard

Nestling next to the EU’s tallest building is the ‘Baby Shard’, headquarters to The Times, The Sunday Times and The Sun newspapers.

The 'Baby Shard', the office building home to the papers and next to the Shard.
The 'Baby Shard', the office building home to the papers and next to the Shard.

Balancing the Baby Shard

The story of how the News Building (to use its official name) was cantilevered over the London Bridge transport hub is told in the latest issue of the ICE Civil Engineering journal.

Lead author Jack Adams of WSP Parsons Brinckerhoff says, ‘Due to existing London Underground assets and constraints, only 45% of the site plan was available for foundations.’

Much of the London Bridge Tube station is directly below the site, including the Northern line escalators, main ticket hall, Jubilee line escalators and platforms, and an escape shaft.

Leaning towers

The solution was to cantilever more than half of the 17-storey building from two concrete cores. However, the irregular shape of the site and limited space for the cores made it impossible to balance the loads.

To overcome this issue, engineers used an innovative technique. The concrete cores were deliberately built to lean slightly.

According to Adams, ’The cores were pre-set 40mm to the west and 20mm to the north from their vertical lines during construction, so that subsequent permanent works loading brought the cores back to vertical at completion of shell and core construction.’

This movement will continue during life of the building in the form of ‘long-term creep’. ‘However, these predicted movements have been taken into account when delivering the design of the building elements such as lifts and cladding’, says Adams.

For more information, please contact the ICE Proceedings Editor Simon Fullalove on +44 (0)20 7665 2448 or at editor@ice.org.uk.

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