Dr Paolo Beccarelli and his team have developed unique expertise in the use of tensile membranes and cables to design striking, innovative structures for exhibitions showcasing art, industry and sport.

Thin tensile membranes, such as Ethylene Tetrafluoroethylene (ETFE) and coated fabrics, are used in modern architecture to create visually impactful structures and façades. Developed through several EU projects, faculty expertise combines structural, thermal and lighting principles with advanced 3D modelling, mechanical and environmental testing methods.

Dr Paolo Beccarelli and his team have utilised Knowledge Transfer Partnerships and consultancy projects to apply their expertise to design and construct unique temporary hospitality pavilions and prestigious art installations. This has led to the university filing its first registered Design Right.

The new designs have transformed the sector, contributed to the development of a new generation of temporary structures - particularly in assessing the structural integrity and environmental performance of the tensile membranes - and enabled previously unachievable temporary pavilions to become a reality. With the use of novel digital and parametric form-finding techniques, the innovative pavilions are safe to manufacture and install, more energy efficient and minimise the use of raw materials reducing their impact on the environment.

Dr Beccarelli has worked with Audi, Ducati, Yamaha, Suzuki and Lamborghini, and is a scientific partner of award winning architectural design and engineering firms including Foster + Partners, DR+R, Marco Balich and MAD Architects. The structures have received hundreds of thousands of visitors providing significant prestige to their corporate sponsors.

Designs include:

  • The Audi Fifth Ring exhibition at the 2018 Milan Design Week
  • The Venice Biennale 2018: Chapel for the Vatican Pavilion
  • Temporary pavilions used by MotoGP teams, the Audi Tron Sailing Series, and International Sailing Federation (ISAF) Sailing World Cup. These designs significantly reduced volume and weight for transporting. 
  • The ETFE roof for the “Serra del sole”, a landmark temporary theatre designed to host events at La Cava del Sole for Matera 2019 - the 2019 European Capital Of Culture (Italy)
  • Several pavilions at the EXPO2020 in Dubai (consultancy basis)



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