The Canopy

Installation design
Attisholz-Areal, Switzerland
ETH Zürich, Chair of Structural Design

The Canopy is a lightweight installation inside the “Kiesofenhalle”, a 94.5 m by 33.2 m hall located in a former cellulose factory in Attisholz, Switzerland. The project aimed at creating a venue for the 3-day event of the International fib Symposium on “Conceptual Design of Structures”, which was held in September 2021 and hosted more than 150 participants. In conjunction with the conference, an exhibition explored the Swiss contribution to structural design looking at design methods and exemplary projects. Hanging Canopy was used to separate the hall into three distinct areas: an auditorium, an exhibition space and an informal area for the social activities related to the conference.

The Canopy is made of perforated fabric hanging from suspension cables. The project was designed to be as light and simple as possible, to be easily installed on site and to minimize the interference with the existing building. The project refers to the hanging chain’s principle based on the catenary line, as a conceptual design approach that considers spatial as well as structural aspects.
Eleven steel cables with a diameter of 5 mm each are suspended ten metres above the ground and span the hall’s 94.5 m longitudinal length. Their shape was form-found using graphic statics, a vector-based structural design method that allows for simultaneous control of form and forces. Ten fabric strips hang from the steel cables. Their geometry was designed in relation to the structural pattern of the existing building. In fact, the undulation of the hanging elements follows the repartition of the slender reinforced concrete roof trusses that characterize the interior of the existing hall. The final materialisation of the project resembles an abstract cloud floating inside the hall. Thanks to the perforated fabric, the canopy maintains visual continuity with the concrete trusses on the roof of the existing hall.


More details see the publication: “ The Canopy: A Lightweight Spatial Installation Informed by Graphic Statics