Plastic sheets used to create architectural illusion in London’s Covent Garden

Taking residence on the East Piazza at Covent Garden in London is a new and unique artwork which sees a section of the building magically levitate – with one of the key structural elements of the illusion provided by polycarbonate sheets from Brett Martin Plastic Sheets.

Modelled on the original architecture of the 184-year old market building, the artwork ‘Take my lightning but don’t steal my thunder’, has been designed by London artist Alex Chinneck and built by a 100-strong team who have conjured up the illusion that a 40-ft-long building has broken from its stone base and then floated 10 ft into the air with bewildering weightlessness.

With this unusual engineering marvel designed around both weight and aesthetics, the building had to be as light as possible but still look like a stone and brick building. Built from a steel and timber frame, the walls were created using Brett Martin’s Marlon ST Longlife, a structurally strong, lightweight multiwall polycarbonate sheet. Polystyrene was then intricately carved using robotic hot-wire cutters, and glued to the polycarbonate sheet prior to the application of the plaster and granite sand finish to match the existing market building.

“As a young sculptor ambition is a necessity for the evolution of my practise and growth of my career. My ideas however are always considerably beyond my means and capacity to produce them and limited resources are forever an obstacle,” said Alex Chinneck.

Chinneck said that he created the art craft with the support of Brett Martin. “I think it's fantastic that Brett Martin have chosen to sponsor, champion and celebrate this project and the art world would be a more exciting place if more companies followed their lead.”

10 mm Twinwall Marlon ST Longlife was chosen for the artwork. Ordinarily used in roofing and glazing applications, the multiwall structure of Marlon ST Longlife provides a very high stiffness to weight ratio. The sheet is strong yet light in weight, a key consideration for this architectural illusion.

Following a pre-fit at the fabrication shop to ensure it all went together like a jigsaw puzzle, the artwork was then shipped by ten arctic trucks and installed over four days at the Piazza.

Set up in 1958, Brett Martin is a privately owned family business with headquarters located on its founding site in Co. Antrim, Northern Ireland. The company has grown in scale to employ over 800 people at several locations throughout the UK and Europe.

It supplies specialist plastic products for the construction, fabrication, print and display sectors worldwide. The company’s product portfolio includes an impressive range of plastic sheets, factory engineered rooflight systems and plumbing and drainage systems.


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