Tensail is a patent (pending) construction system, intended to cover spaces for small events up to sport stadiums. The entire system is a so-called tensegrity structure, defined as a self-stressed system of tension elements, and isolated compression elements. The developer of Tensail aims to eliminate inefficient tensile structures and unleash the technology’s full potential. Summum Engineering proceeded with the initial concept to establish a stable system through structural design changes and subsequent form-finding. A parametric model allows variations in the size and proportions of the system. Structural analysis was carried out in order to build the very first version.

The Tensail tensegrity system is an aggregation of modules, each module a pretensioned fabric structure. Each module is triangular in plan shape, and pushed out of its plane in the middle into a doubly curved form. The modules are connected to one another by a spatial structure of flying masts and cables, that are connected at the perimeter by masts and cables tying the structure to the ground. Within the boundaries of the struts a circular, column-free space is created.

The startup company, also called Tensail, imagines the system to allow for radical improvements compared to conventional  tensile roof systems. The company claims reductions in weight, construction time, and labor, resulting in a lower carbon footprint. Tensail has presented their work at several venues for startups and innovations, with their message being very well received. They won the Venture Academy Incubator Program 2018, LEF 2018, were ImpactCity 2018 finalists and took home 2nd prize of the Philips Innovation Awards 2019.

Summum Engineering established the feasibility of Tensail’s structural design, created a parametric model, and analyzed and dimensioned two variations of the system. The canopy was designed for generic conditions in the Netherlands, at ground level, near a coastal zone, and with a service life of 10 years, intended for temporary use. Although the system is envisioned for permanent use, the first one was deployed at the 2019 music festival Into The Great Wild Open on the island of Vlieland, Netherlands, and partially by the Innofest program for festival innovations.

The system is now defined by a parametric model, based on two 3D models supplied by Tensail. The model allows variations in span and height of the system, while maintaining the geometric logic
established by Tensail. Two specific variations of this model with a 20 m and 10 m span, generated by the parametric model, were analyzed in more detail, in order to size the masts, struts, cables, fabric and ground anchors. Several key details were also checked and sized. The final details were established and provided by the fabricator, De Markies. The first system was then constructed by Tensail themselves at the festival.




Tensail | Floris van Rijn, Arthaud Adriaenssens

Structural engineer
Summum Engineering | Diederik Veenendaal

De Markies | Hans Glaudemans

Location: Vlieland, Netherlands
Time: 2019
Status: Completed
Span: 10 m

Services: Parametric modelling, structural engineering


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