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Heathrow Terminal 5. London. UK

BAA plc
Building Construction Infrastructure Construction
Project partners
Arup Associates

Heathrow Terminal 5. London. UK

Heathrow Terminal 5. London. UK

Heathrow Terminal 5. London. UK

Heathrow Terminal 5. London. UK

Full project details

The largest construction project in Europe at the time, T5 is an innovative and extremely complex multi-modal transport interchange designed to meet the challenges of the 21st century and handle up to 30 million passengers a year.

A multi-modal transport interchange

As programme manager and principal contractor, Laing O'Rourke was responsible for all civil engineering infrastructure, mechanical and electrical (M&E) works, management of logistics across the programme and provision of key personnel to the client’s project management team.

A vast undertaking

We undertook full responsibility for the construction of the main terminal infrastructure, including the complex enabling and site logistics, integrating across 16 major projects and 147 sub-projects, coordinating thousands of activities that had to be undertaken in parallel across over 60 contractors. One particular challenge was the construction and integration of the 18,000t complex plan spanning roof – the largest in Europe. Its massive steel arches, weighing a combined 2,100t, were bolted into position at the main terminal building and attached to the terminal’s abutments without a hitch. 

In addition to the main terminal infrastructure, Laing O'Rourke delivered deep basement construction to the main terminal building, a satellite terminal, a six-platform rail station, service, baggage and tracked transit system tunnels, a multi-storey car park and extensive in situ reinforced concrete works.

Value Engineering and DfMA

Using Design for Manufacture and Assembly (DfMA) to deliver building services modules from our own factory brought major benefits in safety, quality, cost, reliability and environmental impact and reduced the reliance on a large numbers of skilled local operatives. We were able to build many component assemblies off site, precommission and simply drop them into place. Key successes included the customised car park and modular plantrooms.

Innovative thinking

At the beginning, it was doubted that any company could service the entire project’s needs and that the industry resource would be insufficient to deliver the scheme. However, we managed to address this: our resource levels peaked at approximately 700 staff and 2,800 operatives. The total workforce peaked at approximately 8,000.

Innovative thinking led to development of our incident and injury Free (IIF) programme, demand fulfilment, lean construction, and ProCon (production control tool) initiatives. The scheme had immense environmental and social dimensions as well as major security and safety challenges – all of which meant that the processes and procedures developed for BAA were cutting edge and proven effective in the multi-billion pound environment. At all times, the collaborative environment was open to audit and subject to review by the regulator.


Final delivery saw multiple awards for what was widely considered to be an outstanding project: 

  • StructE Supreme Award (Best of the Best)
  • StructE Best Commercial/Retail Structure 
  • British Construction Industry Awards – Highly Commended 
  • BCSA 40th Structural Steel Design Awards 
  • RIBA National Award 
  • RIBA London Award

Key facts

Over two million hours worked without a reported accident

M&E work incorporated over 1,400 preassembled modules representing 202,000 hours of assembly

8,000 peak number of operatives and knowledge workers on site

17,000t of steel in the roof of the main terminal building

Our national environmental assessment scheme yielded an unprecedented score of 92.7%

Terminal 5 has become a model construction project, setting new, higher standards for the industry around the world.

Sir Nigel RuddChairman of BAA

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