Tim Peel spent 27-years at the top of his profession as Associate Director for leading multinational structural engineering consultancy Arup.  His impressive portfolio of award-winning projects makes him a master of his trade and an undeniable force to be reckoned with. 

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In recent years Tim’s motivations have shifted, and wanting to break away from the corporate world, he sought to pursue solo endeavours and in 2016 founded Echo Pit Workshop (EPW). This small but emerging structural design practice is comprised of creative structural engineers and is already set for big things.

Recently our path crossed with EPW when we were propositioned with the design, manufacture and installation of a five-tonne screen. This multi-faceted screen spanned 20-meters, and is comprised of 3000 individual pieces. Due to the sheer size and complexity of the piece, we called upon EPW’s structural engineering expertise.

Impressed with Tim’s background we wanted to find out more about his new venture and discover what makes him tick.

What were your motivations for setting up Echo Pit Workshop?

Working for Arup offered high-level exposure to working on some of the largest, most well-known structures across the globe. Arup’s projects have included working on the Sydney Opera House and the Sagrada Familia. I certainly learned a lot from my time there, however, after 27-years, I wanted to pursue my next challenge. I’ve always been interested in smaller more unusual projects so wanted to focus on those and have more creative and business control.

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What sets Echo Pit apart from the competition?

The level of experience across the team sets us apart from other practices in the industry. All of our staff have come from successful careers at world-leading companies, meaning that our clients benefit from the high-level experience of someone who has worked for the top firms, whilst receiving the care and attention of a smaller company.  All of our clients receive a personal and focused service rather than being engulfed by a corporate machine.

Do you offer a specialist service?

We actually offer a very broad service, though we find ourselves drawn to the more technical and challenging projects.  We’re interested in unique structures: sculptural forms, difficult sites, environmental drivers, exemplary architecture.  If it’s interesting and captures our imagination we’ll do it.  In some ways, because we don’t like to specialise, we’re our own worst enemies.  The straightforward commercial decision would be to specialise in one type of project and then churn that out again and again, but we don’t like doing that.  We like projects that make us want to get up in the morning.

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Previous project 

What drew you to Falkus Joinery’s latest project?

We were drawn to the sheer size of the project, along with the clear technical challenges.  From the get-go, it was obvious to see that this project was a bit of a one-off.  Our key task was to understand how the existing building will move around the screen structure and to offer practical solutions for supporting and restraining the screen against the existing frame and slabs.  We’ve previously worked on screens, but nothing to this scale.  Ultimately the physics will be the same; we just need to figure out how to put this giant together.

What software do you use?

We use a variety of software but, for the screen, our key tool was General Structural Analysis (GSA) which is a program that allows us to model and analyse a virtual version of the structure.  GSA helped us to automate the structural analysis as much as possible, allowing us to input the geometry, loading, materials and properties and how the various elements are connected.  The program then did calculations to work out the forces and the moments that the various elements will experience under load, allowing us to determine if everything will work together as expected and to confirm that the structure will have enough load capacity and stiffness.  We usually start with simple calculations that will give us an initial idea but, for the final detailed calculations, the software helps us to take a deeper dive.

What projects have you enjoyed working on the most?

We recently worked on installing a gargoyle on an external hotel lift shaft for the Mandrake Hotel. The sculpture was created by renowned sculptor Bushra Fakhoury and is made of bronze resin to keep it light weight. The challenge was connecting it to the existing lift shaft and ensuring that it wouldn’t fall off or blow away! We worked with art handlers Mtec to create a weighted base plate to hold the sculpture in place. You can watch the video of it being fitted here.

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We hoped that you enjoyed reading about our upcoming project. If you would like to know more or discuss an upcoming project get in touch at info@falksujoinery.co.uk

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