Enormous banners and huge street dressings produced by a Birmingham company could be seen by more than four billion TV viewers around the world during the London 2012 Olympic Games.
Birmingham-based signs and graphics specialists Hollywood Monster have been creating some of Europe’s largest ever banners, which are being installed at Westfield Stratford City, adjacent to the Olympic Park, and the surrounding area in a £1 million project in the run up to the Games.
Hollywood Monster director Simon McKenzie said: “It’s a huge coup for us to be working on such a prestigious project with Westfield Stratford – it’s part of the UK’s most ambitious regeneration project and of course it’s one that we’re really excited to be involved in.”
A creative team has been working on producing dozens of banners over the past two months at Hollywood Monster’s Tyseley HQ, and its rope access installation team of 20 has been fitting the banners.
Mr McKenzie added: “The calibre of contracts we’re awarded from Westfield is very high – there’s lots of scope for creativity and flair, something our team prides itself on. We can’t wait to see the full effect of the Stratford banners – they’re going to have a massive impact throughout the world’s greatest sporting event.”
One of the most high-profile projects is dressing the link bridge, said Mr McKenzie.
“The project was first briefed to us in January and we had to come up with a plan to dress the bridge, from the underground station into the Olympic park, with graphics.
“The bridge is very unusual in the fact that it is predominantly glass but also has light boxes built into it, and on the one side of the bridge the glazing twists and falls away at an angle towards the Network Rail lines below.
“We print tested five or six new fully sustainable materials and worked alongside Westfield’s design and construction team testing the material on the bridge, and carried out prolonged testing for thermal stress to the glazing.
"We agreed on a suitable material, and now all 1,000 square metres of production is on a fully sustainable material that has no pvc content, with a scratch free laminate that is also pvc-free.
“We looked at various methods including running a lightweight tension frame directly into the steel girders, only to be told that no drilling was allowed on the main structure, and there was nothing for us to clamp directly to.
“We then came up with plan B. This basically consisted of vinyl graphics with laminate to be applied directly to the bridge. This method had issues of its own as the bridge is on a gradient and rises from 2.8m high at each end to 4.4m high in the middle.
“To make things worse the floor rises and slopes also, making it very difficult to align the graphics over two elevations spanning 125m each.
“We created a CAD drawing of each individual glass panel. This consisted of over 160 individual measurements. We then used laser technology to measure the gradient of the floor to come up with some solid plans to our customer’s agency in Chicago to start creating the artwork.
“The artwork is basically following the torch relay across the country, with images of all the key places visited during the relay journey.
Some of the imagery will be changed after the 2012 games, and new artwork replaced for the Paralympic games.”
The process from start to finish has taken nearly three months from initial surveys to full completion due to the complexity of the job and the restricted working times – the company has had to work alongside Network Rail as the bridge runs over their lines.
This bridge is the main footfall into the park from central London, from the DLR, Central Line and Jubilee Line where they are expecting around one million people to walk over the bridge during the events.
He added: “We are also wrapping link bridges and large expanses of glazing on one way vision material around the Westfield centre along with a 35metre x 12metre banner facing the stadium. However, the really impressive job we are involved in is the street dressing.
“We have basically designed a truss system that spans the roof of two buildings, and we are putting five giant double-sided banners running through the street over two buildings.
“They are like five giant triangles above the main street, almost like supersize bunting or flags, but the size of them is enormous. They span the whole street 15.5 metres and 14 metres deep down the left side creating a triangle on the right side dimension.
“It really has the wow factor as I have never seen anything of this scale done before.”