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Toy makers help design Olympic folding arch


CONSULTANT Buro Happold is to join forces with American toy designer Hoberman Associates to create the world's largest unfolding arch.

The Hoberman Arch will be a 22m diameter semi-circular structure consisting of aluminium latticework backed by translucent fibre-reinforced polycarbonate panels. It will form the focal point of the medal presentation platform at next year's Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City.

The arch will open the nightly medal ceremony by retracting in a radial motion. A total of 96 aluminium panels will spiral outwards and upwards, revealing the stage behind.

Driven by two 30hp motors controlling eight separate cables, the panels will slide over one another to form a 2m thick semi-circular ring that frames the stage.

The arch's geometry, unusual load conditions and size mean that Buro Happold has had to develop a support system to resist forces caused by wind and dead loads.

Fabrication of the arch's components has started and it will be ready for testing next month.

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