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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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’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.”
Notes to editors
Please see additional Architecture Press Pack for full information about the building.
About Heathrow’s Terminal 2 | The Queen’s Terminal
The new Terminal 2 marks the latest phase of an £11 billion transformation of Heathrow. Terminal 2 phase 1 is a £2.5 billion development. The main build was completed on schedule in November 2013. By the time the terminal opens for service, it will have undergone 182 trials and been tested by 14,000 people. Some trials will involve more than 3,200 people, with the whole process designed to test the passenger journey as comprehensively as possible.
Luis Vidal + Architects are the concept and lead architects for Heathrow’s new Terminal 2 and are collaborating with Pascall + Watson during the fit out phase. Foster + Partners were the Heathrow Airport master planners and the East terminal building concept architects during the initial project phase. The two main terminal buildings were constructed by HETCo (a joint venture between Ferrovial Agroman and Laing O’Rourke) and Balfour Beatty. The adjoining multi-storey car park was constructed by Laing O’Rourke.
Terminal 2 – the home of Star Alliance
The 23 Star Alliance airlines serving Heathrow are Aegean Airlines, Air Canada, Air China, Air New Zealand, ANA, Asiana Airlines, Austrian, Avianca*, Brussels Airlines, Croatia Airlines, EGYPTAIR, Ethiopian Airlines, EVA Air, LOT Polish Airlines, Lufthansa, Scandinavian Airlines, Singapore Airlines, South African Airways, SWISS, TAP Portugal, Turkish Airlines, THAI, and United. Together they operate over 121 flights per day to 45 destinations in 25 countries. Each of these flights acts as a gateway to the full Alliance network of more than 18,000 daily flights to 1,269 airports in 193 countries.
* Avianca will commence service between Bogota and London on 4 July 2014
About Richard Wilson
Richard Wilson is one of Britain’s leading sculptors and his projects have generated universal critical acclaim. Wilson has exhibited widely for nearly 40 years and has made major museum exhibitions and public works in countries as diverse as Japan, China, USA, Brazil, Mexico, Russia, Australia, Iraq and throughout Europe. He was awarded the prestigious DAAD residency in Berlin 1992/3 and has been nominated for the Turner Prize on two occasions. He was one of a select number of artists invited to create a major public work for The Millennium Dome and the only British artist invited to participate in Echigo-Tsumari Art Triennial 2000, Japan.
Wilson is one of Britain’s most renowned sculptors. He is internationally celebrated for his interventions in architectural space, which draw inspiration from the worlds of engineering and construction and are characterized by concerns with size and structural daring. His best known works are the installation 20:50, a sea of reflective sump oil which is permanently installed at the Saatchi Gallery, and his commissioned contribution to Liverpool’s European Capital of Culture Turning the Place Over (2008), a vast ovoid section of a disused building façade which rotated to reveal the inside of its structure. He has represented Britain in the Sydney, Sao Paulo, Venice Biennials and Yokohama Triennial and has been nominated for the Turner Prize on two occasions. Other works include Square the Block (2010) for the LSE Building in London that both mimics and subverts the existing façade, and 18 holes for the Folkestone Triennial. Recent work includes the Rooftop Commission at the De La Warr Pavilion, Bexhill as part of the 2012 Cultural Olympiad Festival titled, Hang on a minute lads, I’ve got a great idea.
About Luis Vidal + Architects
Luis Vidal studied architecture with an emphasis on airports and transportation infrastructure at the University of Greenwich, London. In 1995 he was elected the youngest member of the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA).
Spanish architect Luis Vidal is internationally renowned for his ambitious airport designs and his commitment to economic, social and environmental responsibility. Vidal has worked as Project Director on the Madrid Barajas Airport; he is author of the Zaragoza Airport, also in Spain; and co-author of the new Warsaw International Airport. He has also worked on over a dozen airport projects and has received international recognition for airport design which applies a humanized, user-focused architecture that emphasises the importance of “the passenger experience”. Consistent with many of Vidal’s previous airport designs is Terminal 2’s striking roof. Oriented to the north, it supports the environmental credentials of the building by providing a generous presence of natural light, while also benefiting from a reduction in solar gain and energy consumption. As Heathrow’s most sustainable Terminal yet, Terminal 2 reduces CO2 emissions by 40% compared to the buildings it replaces and will be the world’s first airport to be awarded a BREEAM* rating for its sustainable building design.
Luis Vidal + Architects was founded in 2004 and has since developed more than 80 projects of different scales; achieving worldwide recognition for its expertise in the field of airports and transportation architecture. LVA has created 21st Century airports that embrace flexibility, cutting-edge technology, environmental responsibility and efficiency, thus enhancing passenger experience and maintaining a proven track record of delivering on time and on budget. LVA represents responsible architecture by providing economic, social and environmental sustainability in all of its projects.
In addition, LVA has won many awards. The design for the new Zaragoza Airport was shortlisted as finalist of the Mies Van der Rohe 2009 Awards, the interior design of the Restaurant at the Museum Reina Sofia was winner of the Architecture Prize of the City of Madrid for the Best Commercial Establishment 2005, and Can Misses Hospital in Ibiza and Vigo’s New Hospital in Galicia won the Design & Health International Awards in the Future Health Project category in 2012. LVA is also currently involved in designing the world’s first commercial space port; the firm has been appointed Associate Architects to the American engineering and architecture firm HDR for the design of Front Range Spaceport outside of Denver, Colorado.
Futurecity is the largest public arts agency in the UK, responsible for a series of large-scale multi-disciplinary cultural projects. Mark Davy is the curator for Slipstream and the originator of the Heathrow Terminal 2 Covered Court public art project. He leads Futurecity, set up to reflect the burgeoning interest in culture-driven place making, urbanism and regeneration. Davy has encouraged the private sector in the UK to use art and culture as part of a toolkit for providing a cultural narrative for our towns, cities and urban centres. In support of his ideas, Davy has written over 100 place making and cultural strategies for brownfield developments and regeneration projects across the UK and Europe and runs a successful commissioning programme for contemporary art in the public realm.
Reducing CO2 emissions by 40%, Terminal 2 will be the world’s first airport terminal to be awarded BREEAM rating for its sustainable building design. BREEAM encourages designers, clients and others to think about low carbon and low impact design, minimising the energy demands created by a building before considering energy efficiency and low carbon technologies. Heathrow’s Terminal 2 has been selected by the BREEAM organisation as the standard to define the parameters that need to be fulfilled by an airport building in order to be awarded BREEAM.
For further press information, interviews or images of Terminal 2 | The Queen’s Terminal or Richard Wilson’s Slipstream please contact:
Heathrow Airport media centre on +44 (0)20 8745 7224
Sutton PR on +44 (0) 20 7183 3577 or email
Luis Vidal + Architects on +34 91 359 39 00 or email
Janet Kafka and Associates on +1 214 373 1200 or email