On entering the main entrance to the Dome, the visitor's eye is immediately drawn to the outer walls of the Work & Learn Zone.
Clad in rotating slats like vast advertising boards, the walls mutate through three images showing the transformation of trees into books. 6m high triptych boards act as pieces in an ever-changing jigsaw puzzle.
However, the cladding hides what is in fact a simple 12m high, two storey steel frame structure, with composite steel and concrete floors. During construction, this less-than-cutting-edge design did not go unnoticed by other Zone developers.
'We were the subject of some good-natured ridicule,' says Buro Happold project engineer Andrew Best, who oversaw construction of the bulk of the structure in eight weeks. 'However, everyone agreed that we came up with an impressive end product.'
As the Work & Learn Zone's 200t of structural steelwork sprang up during July 1999 however, other Zone developers must have cursed their own more challenging designs. Partly due to the design simplicity, Buro Happold encountered few problems other than incorporating previously situated service trenches and piles into its plans.
Sponsors: Work - Manpower
Learn - Tesco
Architect: Alford Hall Monaghan Morris
Structural engineer: Buro Happold
M&E engineer: Atelier Ten
Main contractor: McAlpine Laing Joint Venture