Thomas Heatherwick could be forced to revise his designs for Britain’s pavilion at the 2010 Shanghai World Expo following the safety debacle on his B of the Bang project in Manchester
Consultants on the Shanghai project are understood to be concerned about safety following the problems on the B of the Bang sculpture.The architect paid Manchester council £1.7m in an out-of-court settlement last month after one of the sculpture’s 180 steel spikes fell off in 2006.
It is understood the Shanghai project team has been called into crunch meetings with the UK government, the client, just weeks before construction is due to start to ensure the building (pictured) will be safe. Heatherwick is understood to have been asked to “simplify the design”.
Heatherwick’s £12m pavilion, the UK’s showcase building for the 2010 international fair, is to be sheathed in thousands of 8m-long, swaying spines.
A source close to the project said: “When the problems in Manchester happened, you had the costs people saying, ‘Let’s just change the thing and simplify the design’, but Heatherwick’s team said, ‘Let’s manage the risk and make sure nothing like this could happen here.’”
He added: “Heatherwick won’t oversimplify, because he knows he’s on a strong wicket here and he has had the client’s ear all along. It has really bought into the concept.”
We can't say we don't have any worries.
Lar Pak Hung, Davis Langdon & Seah
Lai Pak Hung, managing director at Davis Langdon & Seah, which is working on the Shanghai scheme for the Foreign Office, said: “We can’t say we don’t have any worries.
“Given it’s the Expo, it’s not just about safety – it’s political. It could affect the UK’s relationship with the Chinese government. Nobody can afford any failure.”
The design team had already made a number of changes to the scheme before the settlement, including reducing the number of spines on the project and making them from aluminium instead of bamboo.
Thomas Heatherwick was unavailable for comment.