millennium dome

 Stuart Forbes was the Project Architect for the Millennium Dome whilst at Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners. 

This project, commissioned to mark the beginning of the new Millennium, presented an opportunity to deliver a  building  type  never  before seen on this size and scale in the world.

The  inherent  physical  issues  of design and manufacture faced in a project of this nature are evident. Also fundamental to the project’s success was the need to establish, in collaboration with the council at Greenwich, a method for the manner in which the building itself, as well as its site, would be developed and approved, not only from a statutory perspective but also under the ever watchful eye of the world’s media.

The  objectives  for  the  building  itself were lightness, economy and speed of construction and the resulting structure solved, with great elegance, the problem of how to enclose and protect multiple separate exhibition ‘zones’ and amenities. Providing 100,000m² of enclosed space (2.2 million cubic metres), the structure is 320m in diameter, with a circumference of one kilometre and a maximum height of 50m. The Dome is suspended from a series of twelve 100m steel masts, held in place by more than 70km of high-strength steel cable which in turn support  the Teflon-coated glass fibre roof.

During the millennium year more than 6  million people visited  the attraction and yet when the building closed at the end of 2000 its future was uncertain. Today the building is  known  as  the  O2  and  has  become a phenomenally successful world class entertainment venue.

For Stuart, in his role as the Project Architect whilst working at Richard Rogers Partnership, this project presented a huge challenge in the development of a unique structure which had no previous precedent to draw upon. The architectural team, at its largest, was thirty people strong, the majority travelling across London to a site office which was surrounded by mud for a number of months. The success of seeing the opening night of the building on the eve of the new millennium was no better way of rounding off what was  a defining point in  Stuart’s  career with RRP.

 The completed Millennium Dome project
 Physical model of the Millennium Dome project in the context of the Greenwich Peninsula masterplan. The Thames Barrier is in the foregreound and Canary Wharf in the background. 
 Under-construction photograph. The twelve phylons begin to hold the steel cables that the roof hangs from.
 Under construction photograph of the yellow steel pylonds being raised into position to form the structure of the Millenniumk Dome.