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Computer software tension structures

Nominated by Tanya Ross

Twenty years ago, if you analysed something it would be a beam or column.

Then the long-haired engineers played with some tights and scaled them up to create tension structures.

Until Tensyl, the computer program developed by Buro Happold was written, it was a very long process of testing physical models.

Now Tensyl gives us the ability to know what is the right shape for a tensile structure and optimise our solution. Before, tensile fabrics didn’t actually do anything, but by the time we got to the Millennium Dome we used the stressed skin to create flat panel structures; the fabric and cables interacted.

Tanya Ross is an associate director at Buro Happold. She was project co-ordinator for the design of the Millennium Dome