Exchange Shopping Centre

Liftshaft Fabric Feature

A glorious new fabric roof feature is the “Crowning Glory” of an Art Deco style lift shaft at the Exchange Shopping Centre in Ilford. The ‘crown’ of fabric, installed as part of a major refurbishment of the 1980s shopping centre, has a feel of the Statue of Liberty about it, perched high above the ground in the glass roofed central hall.

The Challenge

Despite its bold Art Deco design with gold trimmed columns, the double lift platform didn’t quite look finished. Architects Dunnet Craven specified an aesthetic canopy, enhanced by coloured LED lighting to provide a high level focal point as part of the refurbishment of the West Mall.

Working at height was to be the biggest challenge. The lift shaft fabric roof could only be accessed from the third floor of the building and only from one side.

The Solution

Fabric Architecture designed an aluminium, halo-shaped frame, which bolted to the lift shaft columns. Four new steel supports were bolted to the lift shaft roof to provide an anchor point for 18 small cables. These cables were key in holding the Crown in place, giving the appearance when viewed from below, that it is just hovering in mid air.

The lightweight fabric roof feature overhangs the top of the lifts by 5m which meant the only way to install it was by powered access boom (cherry picker) and rope access. Our trained team of riggers used ropes and pullies to lower themselves and their equipment into position. They love nothing more than dangling 17m above the ground and made quick work of the tricky installation.

A 100% polyester fabric canopy in white was fitted directly to the lightweight aluminium frame. LED lights illuminate the canopy, giving it a soft opaque glow.

Project Specifications
ClientExchange Shopping Centre
LocationIlford, Essex
Fabric Type100% Polyester
ArchitectDunnet Craven
ContractorFB Ellmer Construction, Teddington

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