Heathrow Terminal 2, London

The 70m long sculpture is based on the movement of an aerobatic stunt plane flying through the terminal's entrance space. Slipstream weighs 77 tonnes and is suspended 20m above the floor on only four columns.

The undulating surface of the sculpture is made from aluminium sheets and rivets but under this skin is a plywood and steel skeleton that both gives rigid form to the artwork and allows it to span the 18m gap between the supporting columns. The skeleton is precisely made with thousands of parts slotting together to give the piece its strength.

Every part of the skin and structural skeleton is a unique shape. We designed and engineered over 35,000 different timber and steel pieces to fit together like a three-dimensional jigsaw puzzle. Digital design, scripting and robotic fabrication made this possible. To minimise the sculpture's ecological impact, each component of the interlocking structure is engineered to be light and small, using as little material as possible.

Completed 2014.

Project Information






Richard Wilson RA