Bridging Art & Science
Chris Wilkinson


Stratford Market Depot. Aerial View

©Hayes Davidson

Our work has been closely linked with engineering and in particular, bridges, railway structures and industrial buildings. My interest in structures developed as a young architect working at Foster Associates and has continued throughout my career, inspired by working with good engineers. However, I am also a keen artist and I don't believe that technology alone should form the basis of architecture. I have always sought something in addition, the X factor, which provides depth and an uplifting element to the architecture. Each project is different, but with my partner, Jim Eyre, we always start by analysing the pure functions of the problems and give ourselves the maximum time to allow ideas to emerge which will shape the form of the solution. There is nothing new here, but we draw inspiration from the broadest sources including fine art, pure science and nature. As architects, I believe we must try to broaden our minds and experiences to the full. It is up to us to understand the latest technology, social trends and environmental issues. Buildings are an important resource and provide the opportunity for us to express our culture. There can be no excuses for inefficient and poorly designed buildings for they generally out-last their designers and those who commission them.


Stratford Market Depot. Roof Structure

©Chris Wilkinson Associates

Now I would like to talk a little about our work, starting with the Stratford Market Depot for the Jubilee Line. This is a train maintenance facility which includes a large shed, measuring 100 x 180m, able to house eleven complete trains for inspection and maintenance. The parallelogram shape is derived from the track layout and the constraints of the site. The 30° cut off on the leading edge results from a requirement for the trains to be straight as they enter the building, and relates to the minimum curvature of the tracks entering the site from the Stratford direction. A diagonal roof structure was found to be the most efficient form for that shape and the design provides a 2.4m deep space structure made up of 9.0m long lattice trusses with simple friction plate connections. The roof is shaped to form a shallow curve with wide overhangs. There are no internal gutters and for ease of maintenance the two perimeter gutters are wide and strong enough to walk on.

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