The Solar Canopy is a major feature of the Earth Centre in Doncaster, UK. The structural frame of the Solar Canopy consists of a space frame made from Larch forest thinnings and 221 unique metal nodes. Gordon’s role was Senior Project Manager with overall responsibility for coordinating the engineering, fabrication and assembly of the structure, including the specification of the timbers management of the timber supply which was gifted to the project by the Forestry Commission. Destructive testing was carried out to establish reliable strength values for the engineers.
Steve’s role as Production Manager involved creating innovative shop systems and processes that included the design and manufacture of two custom carpentry machines to process the 800 timbers. Each timber is unique in its diameter, length and combination of flitch plate thickness and bolt diameters.
Raising the frame was a major challenge and would require thousands of hours working at height. To mitigate the risks and costs associated with the assembly, Steve designed and supervised the complex lifting operations that allowed the structure to be assembled at ground level and lifted into position in three large sections using up to four cranes simultaneously.
Gord created detailed QA/QC systems to ensure that the complex building geometry and demanding erection tolerances were met. Throughout the assembly process, positional tolerance was monitored by 3D surveying; the target prisms being placed by roped access teams that were led by Gord & Steve. Once completed the structure was covered with photovoltaic panels making it the largest PV array in Europe at the time.