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Exhibition Road

Did you know… Exhibition Road is being transformed into one of the most important public spaces in the heart of London’s most popular cultural district.

The road, which attracts 11 million visitors a year, is home to some of the greatest visitor attractions in the country, an extraordinary collection of world class institutions including the V&A Museum, the Natural History and Science Museums, Imperial College, Royal Albert Hall, Royal Geographical Society and the Royal College of Art.


It is changing from an area dominated by cars to one that puts people first.

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The crowded, narrow pavements and heavy traffic will go. In their place there will be a new streetscape with elegant kerb-free paving surface, new tree planting and street furniture and displays of public art bringing about a café culture feel to the area suitably in time for the 2012 Olympics.


Accurately mapping the sub-surface was a huge undertaking that first required a search for services maps of the utilities, tunnels and vent shafts some of which were over 150 years old and of doubtful accuracy.


Once this was complete, the existence and exact location of the services and of any previously unmapped sub-surface objects had to be verified. No easy task as this had to be done without digging holes and without disrupting the daily life of Exhibition Road. SUMO, a specialist survey company, was brought in by Project Centre, the design consultant. They carried out the work at night using innovative geophysics survey technologies including ground penetrating radar.


A vast amount of geospatial data was gathered that took several months to analyse and turn into properly positioned spatial context.


The old services maps were digitised to convert the data into a compatible format and all of the survey data, historical and new was integrated into one highly accurate 3D map in AutoCAD containing over 200 layers of information of the urban-infrastructure, buildings, roadways, buried services, tunnels and vent shafts, cellars and below ground anomalies.


The huge volume and complexity of mapping data revealed the roads and footways were enormously congested below the ground which presented serious challenges that Schal, the project managers had overcome to achieve the architect's design.


Editor’s Note: The Royal Borough of Kensington of Chelsea is working in partnership with the City of Westminster and the Mayor of London and Transport for London to transform Exhibition Road. SUMO worked on the project with Schal.




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Survey techniques used in this case study...


SUMO Survey
Utility detection
& mapping


Ground Probing Radar (GPR)


Electromagnetic Location (EML)

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