The Melbourne School of Design by John Wardle Architects & NADAAA was one of fourteen projects that were honoured at The Structural Awards 2015 held recently in London. Organised by The Institution of Structural Engineers, The Structural Awards recognise outstanding achievement by structural engineers from all over the world.

The fourteen award-winning projects represent all aspects of structural engineering, from mega projects such as bridges and stadia to innovative housing, heritage restorations and educational buildings. The winners were drawn from nine nations across five continents.

This year’s Supreme Award for Structural Engineering Excellence went to the Singapore Sports Hub designed by Arup and DP Architects.

Martin Powell, Chief Executive of The Institution of Structural Engineers, said that The Structural Awards have once again delivered a magnificent illustration of the extraordinary work of structural engineers - preserving engineering heritage, finding solutions to the complex demands of the modern world, and shaping the future of the urban environment.

The Structural Awards 2015: List of Winners

Award for Arts or Entertainment Structures

The Vegas High Roller, Las Vegas, USA by Arup

Image: Arup

The Vegas High Roller is the current Guinness World Record Holder for the tallest observation wheel, standing at 168 metres in height and featuring 28 fully air conditioned spherical cabins to carry over 1000 people at a time. From a structural engineering perspective, the Vegas High Roller is the first giant observation wheel that uses a single, tubular chord instead of a truss for the rim, providing a more elegant and distinctive structural solution that minimises views of the structure and offers passengers a unique floating sensation.

Award for Commercial or Retail Structures

Intesa SanPaolo Tower, Turin, Italy by Renzo Piano (architect) Expedition Engineering and Studio Ossola

Photography by Enrico Cano

Turin’s second tallest structure at 166m, the Tower intentionally stops short of the spire of the historic Mole Antonelliana. The tower’s architecture expresses structural engineering throughout from the six exposed ‘megacolumns’, which are part of the lateral stability system to the rooftop glass house with views across the city and beyond to the Alps, plus the suspended auditorium and public space at street level.

Award for Community or Residential Structures

‘Malapa’ Hominid Fossil Site Cover + Visitors’ Platform, Johannesburg, South Africa by Krynauw Nel Associates (architects) and by Fellows Consulting

Image: Fellows Consulting

Malapa is a sensitive game reserve and UNESCO Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site. This small, steel, insect-like structure is designed to be a lightweight, 85% recyclable platform for visitors to the location, and for a one ton manual crane used by scientists to inspect the site. To preserve the site, no foundations were permitted, and suitable rock footings for the platform’s ‘legs’ were approved by scientists during construction after ensuring the footings would not damage the sensitive area on removal.

Award for Education or Healthcare Structures

Melbourne School of Design, Melbourne, Australia by John Wardle Architects & NADAAA (architects) and Irwinconsult

Photography by Peter Bennetts

Commissioned following an international design competition in 2009, the Melbourne School of Design is based on the concept that the building itself would teach the students about design, structural engineering and construction. Several key structural elements including wood, steel and concrete have been left exposed to demonstrate their qualities. A huge wooden roof over the central atrium; a steel scissor staircase; and exposed in-situ concrete beams and post-tensioned slabs all combine to validate the judges’ description of the design as ‘a built dictionary of exposed structure’.

Award for Highway or Railway Bridge Structures

Schuman Bridge, Lyon, France by Explorations Architecture (architects) and Flint & Neill

Image: Flint & Neill

Pont Schuman is an elegant new crossing on the River Saône in Lyon, France designed to ease congestion on the city's existing crossings, while also forming part of the urban redevelopment, improving public space along the river, and providing a recreational area where pedestrians can enjoy views of the city. The unusual twisted arches act as the primary structural element, creating a dramatic piece of sculpture with their unique, twisting, gull-wing form.

Award for Infrastructure or Transportation Structures

Anaheim Regional Transportation Intermodal Center (ARTIC), Anaheim USA by HOK (architects) and Thornton Tomasetti

Image: Thorton Tomasetti

ARTIC is a hub for rail, bus, auto and bike travel, serving three million Orange County residents and 40 million visitors annually. The terminal building sits beneath a 250 feet long, 184 feet wide roof, which can be described as a soaring, exposed steel structure of crisscrossing parallel arches. The Awards judges commented that the project won for its ‘elegant detailing, which completes an altogether excellent structural design’.

Award for Pedestrian Bridges

Greenwich Reach Swing Bridge, London, UK b Moxton (architect) and Flint & Neill

Photography by Simon Kennedy 

Representing a much needed link in the Thames Path, this bridge crosses the mouth of Deptford Creek. The bridge was recognised at the Awards because it delivers a valued link for local residents to access public transport and local attractions as well as for its innovative engineering, which uses drive motors to rotate the bridge through 110 degrees, swinging it open to allow access for local river traffic.

Award for Small Practices

Steel and glass features for the 300th anniversary of Omsk, Russia by VIPS (architects) and Malishev Engineers

Image: Malishev Engineers

To celebrate its 300th anniversary, the Siberian city of Omsk decided to refurbish and renovate Valikhanov Street in the city centre, which cuts through historic parts of the town. The project involved the design and construction of steel and glass ‘crystals’ to be scattered along the street as if by an imaginary ‘wizard’. Three canopies (providing a much needed crossing under the busy road), five information kiosks, two fountains (including a larger design intended as a local ‘Arc de Triomphe’) and a stacked glass sculpture were part of the design, with the judges praising the variety of solutions and manufacturing techniques used to produce the structures.

Award for Small Projects

Stage by the Sea, Littlehampton, UK by Flanagan Lawrence Architects (architects) and Expedition Engineering

Image: Flanagan Lawrence Architects

‘Stage by the Sea’, is a free-to-use community performance area in Littlehampton, East Sussex, sited in a sunken garden beside the beach. The engineers used spray concrete, more normally associated with tunnelling and other underground infrastructure projects, to create the remarkable architectural shell structure. The shell’s unique shape and interior surface are sculpted to reflect, project and focus the sound of performers towards the audience, providing fantastic acoustics for musicians and eliminating the need for electronic amplification.

Award for Sports or Leisure Structures/ Supreme Award for Structural Engineering Excellence

Singapore Sports Hub by DP Architects (architects) and Arup

Image-20-Singapore-Sports-Hub-02-c-Darren-Soh.jpgPhotography by Darren Soh 

A key project in Singapore’s urban redevelopment and sports facilities masterplan, the Hub provides a unique ecosystem of sporting, retail and leisure spaces, including the new National Stadium, which can seat 55,000 spectators and has been designed as a highly adaptable, state-of-the-art, sports venue featuring a retractable roof and movable seating. The Hub is the largest free-span dome structure in the world; however, the roof only uses a third of the weight of steel normally used in a span of this size.

Award for Structural Heritage

Restoration of Victoria Theatre and Victoria Concert Hall, Singapore by W Architects (architects) and T.Y. Lin International

Image: W-Architects

Singapore’s oldest performing arts venue, the Victoria Theatre and Concert Hall hosts numerous key political events. T.Y. Lin International Pte Ltd completed several works including the restoration of the atrium and new, improved access to the clock tower.

Award for Regional Groups

SSE Hydro, Glasgow, Scotland by Foster + Partners (architects) and Arup

Photography by McAteer

The SSE Hydro is Scotland’s largest entertainment venue with the arena’s 12,500-capacity auditorium providing a combination of fixed, retractable and removable seating to enable a wide range of different staging and concert layouts. The distinctive amphitheatre form was generated to provide the best view of the stage from every seat. The Hydro was recognised with the Award due to innovative features such as its lighting rig, which is one of the largest in the world, and the facade lighting display, which consists of a colour LED scheme with 16 million possible colour combinations.

Award for Sustainability

Housing for Low-Income Communities in El Salvador by Arup

Image: Arup

The objective of the project was to develop an alternative form of permanent, low-cost and appropriate housing for low-income communities in El Salvador. The design combines modern engineering principles and technologies with a traditional construction method and renewable materials to create a low-tech house design that is immediately familiar to local communities. By using timber and cane in the construction, the design is made more sustainable than existing options and also provides a new livelihood for rural communities. The design utilises new technologies that make it exceptionally earthquake resistant.