Slipstream at the new Terminal 2, Heathrow

Heathrow Airport Terminal 2 Sculpture, London, England, Images, Artist, Design

Slipstream Revealed at the new Terminal 2

London Airport Sculpture – design by Richard Wilson

23 Apr 2014

Slipstream Revealed at Heathrow

Her Majesty The Queen set to officially open the new Terminal 2 on 23 June 2014

Design: Richard Wilson

Heathrow today unveiled Slipstream, by renowned British artist Richard Wilson, which is set to become one of Britain’s most viewed public sculptures, seen by 20 million passengers a year.

Heathrow Slipstream

Slipstream by Richard Wilson RA was commissioned by Heathrow to welcome passengers to the UK’s hub airport and has been curated by public arts agency Futurecity. Weighing 77 tonnes and measuring 78 metres, the sculpture’s twisting aluminium form is inspired by the world of aviation and captures the imagined flight path of a small stunt plane. For Wilson, the work is a response to the artistic challenge of capturing movement and a metaphor for travel; it aims to capture velocity, acceleration and deceleration in its twists and turns.

Heathrow Slipstream

Wilson is one of Britain’s most renowned sculptors and draws inspiration from the worlds of engineering and construction. Like so many of Wilson’s large scale works, Slipstream responds to and is integral to the surrounding architecture. The work is supported by four structural columns and is suspended 18 metres above the ground as it carves through the entrance court of Terminal 2.

Heathrow Slipstream

The old Terminal 2, opened by The Queen in 1955, was demolished after 54 years of service. It was Heathrow’s first terminal, originally called the “Europa Building” and was designed to deal with 1.2 million passengers a year. By the time it closed in 2009 it was handling 8 million passengers a year. Heathrow has invited Her Majesty The Queen, accompanied by His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh to officially open her new Terminal on the 23 June.

Heathrow Slipstream

The new Terminal 2 is part of the Heathrow’s on-going transformation and is a £2.5 billion development by luis vidal + architects which has taken five years to complete. As well as a spacious new Covered Court connecting the main transport links to the Terminal, the building is characterised by an undulating steel framed roof which floods the building with natural light. Spanish architect Luis Vidal is internationally renowned for his ambitious airport designs and the objective for Terminal 2 was to create a space that would be a destination in itself. Passenger experience and comfort have been placed at the centre of the design process which emphasises natural lighting and intuitive way-finding.

Terminal 2 will be a new international gateway for the UK, a home to 23 Star Alliance airlines as well as Aer Lingus, Virgin Atlantic Little Red and Germanwings carriers.

Heathrow Slipstream

Slipstream will be the first and last impression of the United Kingdom for passengers travelling through Terminal 2 and this ambitious sculpture took over two years to create. To make it a reality, Wilson enlisted structural engineers Price & Myers and specialist Hull-based fabricators Commercial Systems International (CSI). The sculpture was manufactured in Hull in 23 giant sections where it formed part of the successful bid for Hull City of Culture 2017. It was then transported, piece by piece, to Heathrow in June 2013.

Heathrow Slipstream

Richard Wilson commented “After over two years of hard work I am delighted to see Slipstream finally unveiled in Heathrow’s new Terminal 2 : The Queen’s Terminal today. Slipstream is my largest sculpture to date and I have enjoyed the challenge of working on such a monumental scale and also working alongside such inventive engineers to realise this work. Slipstream is a metaphor for travel, it is a time-based work that responds to its location and I feel honoured that Slipstream will go on to be seen by millions of visitors travelling to and from the UK each year”.

Concept and lead architect, Luis Vidal commented, “Terminal 2 was designed to be a destination in itself. LVA’s objective was to attract passengers to arrive earlier than their departure time in order to enjoy the welcoming atmosphere and experience the wide range of amenities, services and retail Terminal 2 has to offer.”

Heathrow Slipstream

Heathrow’s Development Director, John Holland-Kaye commented, “We are proud that Her Majesty The Queen has agreed to officially open Terminal 2 : The Queen’s Terminal, the latest stage in Heathrow’s £11billion transformation. The new Terminal 2 stands on the site of the previous Queen’s Building, and the official opening on 23 June recognises the long association with Her Majesty The Queen. We are also very proud that the commission for Slipstream, which will be a feature of the new terminal, was won by distinguished British artist, Richard Wilson, working with a British architectural company, Price & Meyers, and an engineering company, CSI, based in Hull, all truly representing the
best of modern Britain .”

Mark Schwab, CEO Star Alliance said, “In June this year we will ring in a new era for our customers, member carriers and employees at London Heathrow. The purpose built Terminal 2 : The Queen’s Terminal – will be our home and will offer a superior travel experience to our customers, create new business opportunities for our member carriers and provide an improved working environment for employees.”

Photography: David Levene

21 Jan 2014

About Slipstream by Richard Wilson RA

Slipstream Richard Wilson
Slipstream CGI © Richard Wilson Courtesy of LHR Airports Limited

Created by internationally renowned British artist Richard Wilson RA and curated by public arts agency Futurecity, Slipstream is an ambitious artwork inspired by the world of aviation which combines precision engineering and specialised UK craftsmanship. Slipstream was manufactured in Hull by Commercial Systems International. The sculpture is 70 metres long, weighs 77 tonnes and is made up of 23 separate sections, all of which were transported piece by piece from Hull to Heathrow. The result is a flowing, twisting aluminium form; an imagined flight path of a Zivko Edge 540 stunt plane. The sculpture will carve through the open space of Terminal 2’s Covered Court as a stunt plane might and will be seen by over 20 million passengers a year when the terminal opens to the public from 4 June 2014.

Slipstream at the new Terminal 2 information / images received 230414

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