Since the Structural Steel Design
Awards (SSDA) were initiated in
1969 by the British Constructional
Steelwork Association (BCSA) and
the British Steel Corporation there have
been many changes in the construction and
the steel sectors, but one constant asset is
the way that steel not only confers efficiency
and economy but also has an aesthetic
which designers are able to exploit to the
benefit of the built environment.
The qualities of engineering excellence,
innovation, attention to detail, economy
and speed of construction have been
brought together in each of the structures
that have been given awards during the past
Following on from last month’s look back
at the 1980s, in this issue we highlight the
1990s. Two examples of this decade’s Award
winners are the UK Pavilion, Expo ’92,
Seville, Spain (a winner in 1993) and The
Angel of the North (a 1998 winner).
Built for the then Department of Trade &
Industry, the UK’s Pavilion for Expo ’92 was
a first-class exhibition space that became the
principal exhibit for Britain’s participation
at the international event.
Structural steelwork was chosen to allow
the structure to be accurately manufactured
in the UK in large pre-fabricated elements,
transported hundreds of miles and be
assembled as quickly as possible.
The Pavilion consisted of an outer
envelope 65m-long × 38m-wide and
25m-high, enclosing three similar ‘pods’
which provided the exhibition space.
The main east wall of the pavilion was
fully glazed with water pouring down the
outside, while stacked water-filled steel
containers on the west face gave protection
from the sun.
The internal pods were erected first and
each provided two decks 14m x 20m in
plan. They were formed by concrete slabs
with composite steel decking supported on
the bottom flanges of universal beams.
The external envelope consisted of
ten identical tubular steel frames, each
comprising two vertical wall trusses
21.7m-high supporting a roof truss with a
32m clear span.
Each frame acted as a pair of vertical
cantilevers linked by a roof member.
Transverse forces on the envelope, including
those from the internal pods, were therefore
resisted by bending in the wall trusses.
Constructed by main contractor Trafalgar
House Construction, the SSDA judges
said this magnificent Pavilion integrates
successfully the very best of British
engineering and architectural innovation.
The Angel of the North is one of the most
viewed pieces of art in the world, seen daily
by drivers on the A1 and train passengers
on the East Coast Main Line. Sitting on a
SSDA 50th Anniversary
The Angel of the
North has become
one of the country’s
Having started in 1969, the Structural Steel Design Awards
are this year celebrating their 50th anniversary. In the third
of a series of articles, NSC looks back at the 1990s.