Coventry Scaffolding Co (London) Ltd were the proud winners of the 2018 NASC Scaffolding Project of the Year (Turnover up to £5million) Award. They won the coveted award for their work on the unique art installation, The London Mastaba, on the Serpentine Lake in London’s Hyde Park.
The London Mastaba was created by the world-renowned late Bulgarian artist, Christo and his late wife, Jeanne Claude. A mastaba – meaning “eternal house” in Ancient Egyptian – is a type of ancient Egyptian tomb in the form of a flat-roofed, rectangular structure with inward sloping sides, constructed out of mud. The iconic structure stood at 20m high, was formed of 7,506 barrels that were stacked horizontally, and floated on the Serpentine Lake between 12th June and 23rd September 2018.
Due to the uniqueness of this structure, the project was presented with a number of challenges, which TRAD UK helped Coventry Scaffolding to overcome. Coventry Scaffolding decided early on in the design phase that system scaffolding would be the best option, and TRAD UK’s exclusive PLETTAC METRIX System was the obvious solution due to its speed of erection, safety, adaptability and availability. The innovative system, with horizontal dimensions that are completely metric, allows both the tubular transoms and ledgers to be substituted by components of a smaller size, permitting the use of extra verticals within a bay length or width. This feature advances efficiency and vastly increases the ease by which adaptions can be made.
A trial version was erected in Bulgaria at a third of the size of the eventual structure in London, so that the obstacle of erecting scaffolding on a floating platform could be tackled. The weight of the scaffolding meant the platform sagged, but this was overcome by implementing a steel grid from which the scaffolding could be erected.
Work then began in London on 23rd April 2018 with a team of over 100. Scaling up to the full 40m x 30m x 20m of the structure required additional rigidity by bracing every line of scaffolding along the length and breadth of the steel frame. Cross-bracing was installed in the first four metres of the scaffolding with connections to the steel baseplate. The strength of the resulting truss system ensured the stability of the structure.
Owing to fixed sizes of the barrels, as well as the 4x3x2 proportions of the structure, tolerances were down to the very last millimetre; this was doubly difficult because the barrels had to be installed after the scaffolding was erected. In addition, the first line of barrels had to be supported below the base line of the scaffold in order to achieve the perfect aesthetic for the artist; it was critical the barrels looked like they were floating on the lake, so the scaffolding could not be visible. An additional constraint was that the diagonal walls across the sides of the Mastaba had to be precisely 60 degrees to accommodate the natural pitch of horizontally stacked cylindrical objects.
PLETTAC METRIX was the perfect partner to this complex project. The system’s simplicity, which is enhanced by its unique divisibility, allowed the demanding two month timeframe to be easily achieved. TRAD UK were very proud to supply the scaffold on such a unique and impressive structure.
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