Prototype U53

Development of the biggest convertible umbrella in the world

With an area of 2,300 square metres and a diagonal of 61 metres, the U53 prototype exceeds all previous benchmarks for umbrella structures. This development called for totally new concepts for the kinematics, folding systems and membrane structures. The built prototype earned SL Rasch the German Construction Engineering Award 2016.

For more than two decades, SL Rasch has been working on the architectural, mechanical and structural development of large-format shading roofs in the form of convertible funnel umbrellas. This has involved testing a wide range of umbrella typologies, leading to constant improvements in the kinematics and mechanical drive engineering, as well as the textile membrane and belt technologies. These developments have culminated in the large-scale umbrella systems for the piazza of the Holy Mosque of the Prophet in Medina and the expansion of the Great Mosque in Mecca. The unique lightness and inspiring appearance of these shading roofs are the result of the constant search for the optimal solution in cooperation with textile technology and wind engineering experts.

Hi-tech simulations

The development of wind-sensitive membrane structures calls for complex simulations on supercomputers. This is the only way to calculate the foldable textile boundary elements made of synthetic aramid fibre bundles or the vibration dampers for reducing wind impact.

Computational fluid-structure interaction simulations provide the basis for calculating the load-bearing behaviour of large wide-span roof constructions and their dynamic load-bearing behaviour under various wind loads. This type of simulation is unique in the construction industry to date and represents a milestone in modelling the load-bearing behaviour of highly flexible and extremely lightweight structures realistically.