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The Millennium Dome

Tony Robinson outside the Millennium Dome

Occupying a dramatic site at the end of the Greenwich peninsula, the Millennium Dome -- designed by the Richard Rogers Partnership with Buro Happold as lead engineering consultant -- will provide the largest single covered space in Britain. It is an enormous stressed cable net structure: a ring of masts 100 m (330 ft) tall supporting a net of steel cables on to which a fabric roof is attached.

The site, left derelict for over 20 years, once housed Europe's largest gasworks. The Blackwall tunnel cuts right under it, and its ventilation shaft is now completely enclosed by the new building.

Before construction could begin, the contaminated ground of the site had to be cleaned up. Finally, in June 1997, the first of nearly 8,000 piles was driven into place. By August, the first pieces of the 12 steel masts began to arrive on site, were welded together, then lifted into place. Temporary cable anchors held the masts while the cable net was assembled. The radial stringer cables were laid out at ground level, connected to form the 'net' and lifted at the connection nodes to the mast tops.

Once the fabric cover is in place, the Dome structure will be complete. The entire 'Millennium Experience' is due to open to the public on 1 January 2000.

Dome facts

  • There will be over 75 kilometres (47 miles) of cable in the structure, the largest of which have a diameter of only 90 mm (3.5 in).
  • The perimeter wall will be over 1 kilometre (0.6 mile) long.
  • The Dome is big enough to contain:

    • 2 Wembley Stadiums
    • 13 Albert Halls
    • all of Trafalgar Square, including Nelson's Column
    • the Eiffel Tower lying on its side

  • The internal air volume of the Dome is 2,100,000 cubic metres (22,600,000 cu. ft).
  • Over 2 kilometres (1.2 miles) of concrete ground trenches will hold pipes and cables.
  • Twelve airducts, each large enough to house a human being, will deliver outdoor air into the centre of the Dome.

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