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Blowing in the wind


Glasgow's Science Centre will boast three landmark buildings on its reclaimed site.

Glasgow's £80M Science Centre will transform a derelict site at Pacific Quay on the south bank of the River Clyde.

The project boasts three landmark buildings: the Wing Tower, a giant ball housing an Imax cinema and titanium clad exhibition galleries inspired by the breathtaking Guggenheim in Bilbao.

At 100m high the £7.2M Wing Tower will be the tallest free-standing structure in Scotland, and the world's first tower to rotate through 360degrees in response to the wind. The tower is essentially an aircraft wing set in a vertical plane, which aligns its narrow edge towards the direction of the wind in response to sensors.

The site was infilled during the 1970s and used for the Glasgow Garden Festival, but has remained derelict since 1988. Geology below the tower consists of made ground and dock infill overlying alluvial sandy silt and weathered sandstone bedrock at a depth of 31m. Because of the proximity of the Clyde, groundwater levels can vary between 1m above to 3m below ground level, explains Rob Talby of Buro Happold, the geotechnical and structural engineer for the project. The main contractor is Carillion.

Wimtec Environmental carried out the site investigation which included cone pressuremeter testing and pumping tests to assess the viability of dewatering needed during the foundation construction stage. Groundwater consultant and contractor were Zenith International and WJ Groundwater respectively.

Bachy Soletanche was contractor for the substructure which comprises a 12m diameter, 800mm thick reinforced concrete diaphragm wall, constructed to a depth of 20m. Finite element analysis was undertaken to predict the behaviour of the substructure and adjacent dock walls with the tower subjected to a worst case one in 50 year wind loading with the tower aligned perpendicular to wind direction.

Foundation work for the cinema and main exhibition galleries have been carried out by Kvaerner Cementation Foundations in partnership with Kvaerner Construction.

To support the galleries it has installed 254 continuous flight auger piles with diameters of 500mm and 600mm using a Soilmec R618. Piles were bored to depths of 17m-23m founding in glacial till, with some being designed to work in tension.

For the cinema an anchored sheet pile wall with 60mm diameter tie rods at 2.4m centres was needed to seal off the end of an old dock. With the sheet piled cut-off complete, the 54 CFA piles were keyed into the underlying sandstone.

Significant and unexpected obstructions within the dock fill meant localised use of 200mm diameter minipiles. In total 23 cased minipiles were sunk to 30m, formed with a 4m open holed rock socket at their base.

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