Steel and glass latticework roof of the Great Court at the British Museum, London. Built 2000, Architect: Foster and Partners Engineer: Buro Happold

The form of the lattice work roof is that of a dome stretched into a circle like a donut. Aside from the project’s beauty the structure is an engineering and fabrication tour de force. The latticework is made of seven and a half miles of top-grade shipbuilding steel (6,000 beams and 1,800 connecting pieces) which is made weathertight with 3,312 uniquely shaped panels of glass. The roof’s computer determined geometry takes up all the irregularities of the old building to the tolerance of three millimetres. Because the steel expands and contracts with heat, cold and wind, it sits on sliding bearings which also serve to spread its weight evenly across Smirke’s facades.

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