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Skyline's far from the limit for a tensile interest

WHEN Paul Westbury finished his MA in engineering at Cambridge, he knew there was only one consulting engineer that would satisfy his intense interest in tensile structures - Buro Happold.

Since he joined the firm seven years ago he has done well, and at only 28, he heads up the firm's 18-strong special structures team.

Mr Westbury reveals the more passionate side of his normally analytical nature when he turns to the intricate subject of tensile structures. It is easy to see where he gets his kicks (apart from on the hockey field).

Tensile structures - like the Skyline Pavilions for Butlins - were pioneered in the late '60s and '70s and are based on soap bubbles and soap films. And the subject which excites Mr Westbury the most is transferring the thinking behind tensile structures to more conventional structures and materials.

It is easy to grasp his excitement, but not quite so easy to grasp the logic of what he is explaining.

Which is maybe why making models is a big part of development and design for all the engineers at Buro Happold.

'We all make models, it's good fun actually; it's good therapy,' says Mr Westbury.

At the moment the team is working with Richard Rogers on the entrance canopies for the Millennium Dome. 'We go to their offices and make models live,' he enthuses. 'Then we take photographs and measurements and go from there.'

Mr Westbury is definitely going places.