The first challenge we encountered was cutting the pattern around the base of The Spire. The pattern is based on a core sample of earth and rock formation taken from the ground where The Spire stands.
The Spire is like a cone, wide at the base and narrowing all the way to the top. Each section of Stainless Steel had to be rolled individually and at a taper, it was essential that this was done with precision as a mistake would mean that one section would not fit onto another section.
Working from drawings supplied by the contractor we cut the pattern for the base. It was tricky because The Spire is like a cone, wide at the bottom and narrow at the top. As a result of this there is a narrowing of the structure as you rise up The Spire. The material used had to be flexible enough to be wrapped around the 9.5 metre circumference of the base. In a simple way to explain it’s a bit like stencilling or hanging wallpaper.
The pattern was 3mm rubber with an adhesive back and so Waterjet Cutting was the perfect solution to cut without damaging the material or the adhesive. As stated The Spire is tapering upwards, this meant that ever sheet cut had to be tapered and fit perfectly with the next corresponding sheet so that the whole base of The Spire was covered in the material depicting the pattern.
Once the completed sheets were finished and covering the base perfectly, the main parts were then removed to leave just the smaller pieces depicting the earth and rocks that form the pattern. The exposed material was then bead blasted to give the dimpled effect to the steel and the remaining smaller rubber pieces were removed to reveal the higher polished pattern that is unique to The Spire.
The reason for the bead blasting is to lessen the shine that would be reflected from the highly polished stainless steel in case it could be reflected into the eyes of vehicle drivers.
As we were involved from the start we were able to bring our expertise in advising our customer on the best method of cutting for the pattern. This included the material chosen, the type of drawings required to display the pattern, the design of the tapering sheets and the matching up of the sheets around the base. We also used the most versatile of cutting methods, Waterjet Cutting. This is a method of cold cutting materials and does not heat, harden or damage the molecular structure of the material being cut.
We were able to advise our customer on the best method of ensuring that the sections of The Spire would be rolled and tapered to the correct measurements and angles. Our knowledge and expertise gained from years dealing with different materials, combining both the cutting of the steel to the correct radius in addition to the ability to etch the necessary numbers onto the template resulting in an aesthetic landmark to the city.