Published: 11 December 2019

Spatial Structures Design Competition: open for entries!

The International Association for Shell and Spatial Structure (IASS) Annual Symposium and 7th International Conference on Spatial Structures – due to take place at Surrey in August 2020 – will have a unique legacy thanks to a Design Competition for a new structure to be built on campus. We talked to Dr Alireza Behnejad to find out more.

Spiral Tower by MERO
The Spiral Tower, which was gifted to Surrey by MERO.

Why has Surrey decided to launch the 2020 Spatial Structures Design Competition?

The rationale behind the Design Competition is to create a lasting legacy related to the 7th International Conference on Spatial Structures at Surrey. The winning design will be constructed at Manor Park, in a green area between the student residences, the Vet School and Surrey Sports Park.

The theme of the Conference is ‘Inspiring the next generation’ and we hope that this is what the winning design structure achieves.

How does the Competition link with the existing spatial structures on campus?

While this is our first Design Competition, the history of iconic spatial structures at Surrey goes back to 1975 when we were given the Spiral Tower by the very famous German company MERO, on the occasion of the second International Conference on Spatial Structures. Then in 1984 the Surrey dome, featuring a similar construction to the famous Shah Alam Mosque in Malaysia, was gifted to us by British Aluminium. These structures are now an important part of the identity of the University. We hope the same will be true of the winning design from the Competition, which will become part of the Manor Park landscape for decades to come.

What kind of design will the judging panel be looking for?

They will be looking for something that is ahead of its time. If you look at the other objects – the Spiral Tower and the Dome – they were very futuristic at the time that they were build. Sustainability and the energy consumption required for construction are also very important to consider. Designs which make use of green materials and sustainable techniques will definitely be welcomed.

Obviously, above all, it is vital that the structure is buildable and also practical and durable, since we want it to last for many decades.

In terms of shape, we haven’t specified anything beyond the overall dimensions, so designers can give free rein to their imagination!

Who will judge the Competition?

The judging panel is made up of academics and professionals in the field both from Surrey and around the world. It includes Professors Max Lu (Vice-Chancellor of Surrey), Marijke Mollaert (a leading figure in membrane structures), Gerry Parke (who has more than 40 years’ experience in spatial structures), Chris Williams (an expert in computational geometry) and Brian Linton (Engineering Manager of Novum Structures UK, a leading company in the field).

Who can enter the Competition?

The Design Competition is open to all entrants: there are no limitations in terms of expertise or experience. We are simply looking for the best designs.

What’s the last date for entries?

The final date for entries is 28 February 2020.


Read more about the Spatial Structures 2020 Design Competition and how to enter.

Find out more about the IASS Annual Symposium and 7th International Conference on Spatial Structures, taking place on 24 to 28 August 2020 at the University of Surrey.


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