Jakob®Tensegrity Torus, a complex structure with a high load-bearing capacity, consisting of bars in combination with ropes
Published 28 February 2020
A gate to the sky

Jakob® Tensegrity Torus

What is the huge circular structure that seems to float in front of our headquarters?

The appeal of sounding out our capabilities led us to plan and build something unique: the Jakob®Tensegrity Torus, a complex structure with a high load-bearing capacity consisting of rods in combination with ropes.

The torus has 15 meters in diameter and seems to hover above ground in front of our headquarters in Trubschachen. It showcases our ability to realize technically outstanding solutions with cables and our passion and willingness to take on difficult challenges.

Innovation is a tradition at Jakob Rope Systems. Going to the limits forces us to rethink longstanding experience and processes. This way, it is not uncommon for us to find new ways to improve on what we have already tried and tested. The realization of the Jakob®Tensegrity Torus has pushed us to the limits of what is technically feasible. We are convinced that our customers will benefit from our accumulated experience.

Tensegrity: Tension and Compression

Tensegrity are support structures consisting of a continuous system of tension elements and a discontinuous subsystem of pressure elements. The structure requires sufficient pre-tension to stabilize it. The term tensegrity was coined from the words ‘tensional’ and ‘integrity’. Tensegrity structures were discovered by the artist Kenneth Snelson (1927–2016) and the American architect and engineer R. Buckminster Fuller (1895–1983). Kenneth Snelson had already built small sculptures according to the tensegrity principle before the term tensegrity was even born.

R. Buckminster Fuller, with whom Kenneth Snelson studied architecture at the time, recognized the potential of Snelson’s sculptures and subsequently developed a variety of other basic systems with the aim of an application in lightweight construction: The largest roofing systems in the world, the so-called ‘cable domes’, are applications of open spatial tensegrity systems. For smaller buildings, tensegrity systems can be economical when the challenge is to create structures that can be easily assembled and disassembled. The addition of basic tensegrity elements to complete structures and the possibility of combining tensegrity systems with other support systems to form hybrid structures offer a wide range of design and development possibilities.

A challenge for the future

We commissioned architect Filippo Broggini for the design and layout of the Torus. Over a 5-year construction period, Jakob employees produced and assembled the structure. The decision to realize this unusual project echoes our corporate philosophy: it is always worthwhile investing time, energy and money in optimizing a project. Thereby we can not only find new technical solutions.

A challenging project such as the planning and construction of the Jakob®Tensegrity Torus improves the product and assembly technology, but also develops the employees and their know-how further. While working on this extraordinarily difficult task - in addition to everyday production - everyone involved learned something new. The result is a technically and visually outstanding object.

Tensegrity data

Ø 15 meters total diameter
84 rods
420 wire ropes
2480 kg total weight

Inox stranded wire Ø 10 mm, 1 × 19 with external threads M14 on both ends

Built 2005–2009 by employees of Jakob Rope Systems 

Design and architecture:
Filippo Broggini, BLUEOFFICE ARCHITECTURE, Bellinzona

Statics:
Airlight Ltd., Biasca