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Heathrow Airport - Terminal 5

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The largest single-span building in Britain, the Heathrow Terminal 5, was built from 2002 to 2006, at a cost of 4.3 billion pounds sterling. Built by Richard Rogers Partnership (later known as Rogers, Stirk Harbour & Partners), the BAA terminal consists of walls made from glass and steel and a roof curved like a wave.

The construction of the new terminal is just the beginning of transforming the out-dated airport into one of high technology and design. The new terminal consists of five levels above ground, is 1,266 feet (386 m) long and 577 feet (176 m) wide (equivalent to 50 soccer fields). Additional to the construction of the building is the six-platform rail station located beneath the main terminal building, a parking lot large enough to fit 3,800 spaces, a new 1,640-foot (500 m) long spur road built for transporting passengers between the M25 and the terminal, as well as two smaller satellite buildings (B and C). The new terminal is expected to handle approximately 30 million passengers a year.

The terminal officially opened for operations on March 27, 2008 and is nearly complete. A satellite building called Terminal 5C is currently underway and is expected to be completed by 2010.[1]


[edit] Construction History

[edit] Planning Permission

The idea for Heathrow Terminal 5 was first proposed in 1989. A design competition was introduced and won by Rogers, Stirk Harbour & Partners. Planning resumed and the planning permission application was submitted in February 1993. It was another two years before one of the biggest public inquiries in the history of British planning projects took place. The project was finally approved with more than 700 conditions imposed upon the construction but it did go ahead and construction began in 2002.[2]

Terminal 5 was a construction project of epic proportions, involving 16 major projects and 147 sub-projects. The project was spearheaded by architect Richard Rogers and Pascal & Watson. Mott MacDonald designed below the ground while Ove Arup designed above ground. The substructures were the responsibility of Laing O’Rourke’s construction team, and the tunneling was completed by contractor Morgan Vinci JV.[3]

Since the terminal would be used for incoming and outgoing British Airway flights only, BAA footed the terminal construction cost, which amounted to 4.3 billion pounds sterling. The terminal was to be complete with a main terminal and two smaller satellite buildings, B and C, as well as a 285-foot (87-m) air traffic control tower and 8.1 miles (13.5 km) of bored tunnel.

[edit] Construction

Construction began in the summer or 2002, but it did not take long for workers to realize that the future Terminal 5 was sitting atop one of the largest reported archaeological sites. The site contained artifacts dating back to the stone ages. Of this, over 247 acres (100 ha) of excavation contained artifacts, involving the work of more than 90 archaeologists who uncovered 80,000 artifacts, including pottery, a flint, and a hand axe dated as far back as 3000 B.C. As well, a wooden bowl and bucket were found, the items dating back to 1500 B.C. and 1100 B.C. respectively.[4]

After archaeologists surveyed the site and the ground was leveled, temporary facilities were constructed to allow easy access to the site. Roads and offices were both built to make sure the project went smoothly. Stage two involved setting the foundations for the substructures and the terminal basements. The drainage system and the rail tunnels were also devised and constructed during this early stage. Excavators removed 11.8 million cubic yards (nine million m3) of dirt. Some of the excavated material was used to develop an embankment for the spur road connecting to one of London’s busiest highways, the M25.

One of the projects that had to be completed before the building could commence was to divert the Duke of Northumberland and the Longford River from the site of the future Terminal 5.

The construction team included architect Pacall & Watson, as well as structural engineers Arup and construction managers MACE. Within two years, the foundations had been successfully laid and work on the roof was near completion.

In July 2004, work was well underway for the air traffic control tower. The roof of the cab was lifted into place. In October of the same year, the cab, with a weight of 900 tons, was transported 1.2 miles (2 km) across the airfield. The challenging mission was one of the heaviest lifting operations ever to occur in an airport in the U.K. The tower was finally completed after a series of difficult lifting operations that saw the 285-foot (87-m) tower and 131-foot (40-m) terminal roof constructed and successfully lifted in March 2005.

In February 2005, the Airside Road Tunnel was constructed. The seventh longest road tunnel in the U.K. at 0.81 miles (1.3 km) was built to allow vehicles to drive under the airfield from Terminal 5 to the Central Terminal.[5]

[edit] Underground

During the construction of the basement of the terminal building, 8.4 miles (13.5 km) of earth was bored in order to insert a tunnel. The tunnel would connect the Heathrow Express and the London Underground Picadilly Line to the terminal. Boring the tunnels produced some problems, mainly the complexity of having to bore under a fully functioning airfield as well as near rail lines that were in operation. The Heathrow Express required one mile (1.6 km) of bored tunnel, while the Picadilly Line required 1.1 miles (1.7 km) bored.[6]

Early 2005 to September 2006, the Picadilly Line service was suspended at Hatton Cross to allow for Terminal 5 to be constructed with the T123 and T4 loop. The normal technique, the step plate junction, could not be used, as it may have caused the tunnel to collapse due to the water-bearing gravel that was used previously. Instead, a new technique was concocted, one that involved a cofferdam that dug from 66 feet (20 m) under the surface of the earth in order to hold the old tunnel in place. Rather than using a boring machine to bore into the cofferdam, a tunnel was bored from the box outwards.[7]

[edit] The Air Traffic Control Tower

One of the largest of its kind, the tower stands at 285 feet (87 m) high and is twice the size of the previous tower. The tower cost 50 million pounds to construct. It was raised at the halfway point of the construction of Terminal 5, in March 2005. It consists of a triangular design that allows optimum viewing and a 360-degree cone of vision. MACE Construction played a huge role in the success of the tower.

The Tower boasts of a three-story base and an 18-story tubular steel mast. The cab weighed 900 tons and was shaped like a cone. To be positioned, it had to be flown 1.2 miles (2 km) across the airfield. Proving to be one of the toughest challenges to be completed, the solution was sought in designing a temporary steel frame and connecting it to the bottom of the structure to provide it with more balance.[8]

The wave-like roof was built with 22 steel box rafters that acted as arches to support it, along with eleven steel abutments. This successful technique, also called “strand-jacking,” was used in erecting the London Eye.[9]

Heathrow Terminal 5 Empty
Terminal 5 Roof

The roof was one of the most difficult tasks. Weighing 18,500 tons, it took more than 11 months to put it into position. During that time, the roof was supported by 22 steel leg structures that were used to hold it up. The first attempt to erect the roof took 12 specialist engineers 10 hours to lift the first section (2,500 tons). It required five lifts to completely erect the entire roof.[10]

When that was complete in December 2005, workers begin focusing on the interior of the building: ventilation, heat, and power. In September 2007, the terminal underwent an upwards of 60 trials to ensure every aspect of the terminal was fit for operations.

[edit] Completion

The terminal was opened by the Queen on March 14, 2008 and became a fully functional and operational terminal on March 27, 2008.

[edit] Equipment Used

[edit] Refurbishment/Recent Projects/Renovations

The Terminal 5C satellite building is expected to be completed in 2010.

[edit] Unique Facts

  • Many of the equipment and electrical and mechanical operations were devised, developed, and tested off-site before they were brought into Terminal 5.
  • Terminal 5 experienced an excellent worker safety rate, accomplishing one million consecutive hours without accidents on 15 occasions. Millions of man-hours were involved and no accidents were reported, even during its peak construction time that saw more than 8,000 workers on the site at one given time.
  • To counter against factors that were not environmentally friendly, the BAA devised a new technique for construction that would see sustainability as Terminal 5’s main goal. Aggregate such as sand and gravel were used to reduce the amount of energy required to mine material. BAA also recycled materials. More than 300,000 tons of aggregate were used on the site as well as 80,000 tons of recycled aggregate.
  • Of the 11.8 million cubic yards (9 million m3) of dirt that were excavated during construction, a majority was used as backfill and for landscaping to avoid bringing it to a landfill.[11]
  • The opening of Terminal 5 was not without any problems. A baggage malfunction resulted in 15,000 bags being displaced from their owners. The fiasco demanded more than 400 staffers to go to work on their day off and required hundreds of volunteers to sort through the baggage. The problem was resolved after several days but cost the airline more than 350 flight cancellations.[12]
  • Terminal 5 comprises more than 35,800 square yards (30,000 m2) of steel and glass to give it the illusion of sheer space and that light is pouring into the building.
  • Inside Terminal 5 there are 192 elevators, 105 escalators—including the longest open design escalator in Europe—and 112 retail outlets.[13]

[edit] References

  1. Terminal 5: Information, 2008-09-23.
  2. Terminal 5: Information, 2008-09-23.
  3. Lomax, Mike. Heathrow Terminal 5 - the largest construction project in the UK. BNET, March 2006. (accessed: 2008-09-23)
  4. Heathrow Airport Guide Heathrow Airport Terminal 5, 2008-09-23.
  5. Terminal 5: Information, 2008-09-23.
  6. Terminal 5: Information, 2008-09-23.
  7. Heathrow Terminal 5, 2008-09-23.
  8. Heathrow Air Traffic Control Tower, 2008-09-23.
  9. Terminal 5, Heathrow Airport, London, United Kingdom, 2008-09-23.
  10. Heathrow's Terminal 5 to open six months from today, September 2007. (accessed: 2008-09-23)
  11. Terminal 5: Information, 2008-09-23.
  12. Milmo, Dan. BA brings in hundreds of volunteers to tackle baggage mountain. The Guardian, March 2008. (accessed: 2008-09-23)
  13. Lomax, Mike. Heathrow Terminal 5 - the largest construction project in the UK. BNET, March 2006. (accessed: 2008-09-23)