20. June 2023

Tensegrity structure with Jakob ropes

The TenCylindre was unveiled at the 2021 watch exhibition in Geneva. Jakob ropes give the complex tensegrity structure rigidity with minimal weight. The structure was developed by an international team of architects, engineers and researchers.

The TenCylindre is a seven-meter-high cylindrical tension structure designed by French artist Clément Vieille for watchmaker Hermès' booth at Watches and Wonders 2021 in Geneva. The structure was designed and built in an international collaboration with the group AEA SA.

The structure, consisting of 180 carbon rods, 180 compression rings, 84 radial ropes, 348 spiral ropes, is suspended and unfolds along its axis. The structure gets its stability from the state of self-tensioning. This tension is achieved by the horizontally integrated Jakob ropes.


For the structure, Jakob Rope Systems was allowed to supply two different types of stainless steel ropes. One type of rope compresses the tensegrity structure. These 84 radial ropes (4 mm) are arranged on 14 horizontal levels. Each level includes six ropes. The second type of ropes 348 (3 mm) spirally arranged ropes with clockwise and counterclockwise. These ropes are further divided into those with movement outside the cylinder and those with internal movement. This results in the shape of a hollow cylinder with an external diameter of 3.35 meters and an internal diameter of 1.65 meters.

After the end of the Geneva watch exhibition, the tensegrity structure returned to the EPFL laboratory in Lausanne. Here, the structure was subjected to a series of tests. The tests were intended to show the extent to which theoretical calculations and the real behavior of the structure corresponded.



Client: Hermès, Paris

Project team:

  • AEA, Bellinzona / Geneva (Arch. Félix Stämpfli and Arch. Filippo Broggini)
  • Clément Vieille, Saint Alban Leysse
  • INGPHI Ingenieurbüro, Lausanne (Ing. Bernard Adam)
  • University of Miami, College of Engineering Miami (Prof. Landolf Rhode·Barbarigos)
  • EPFL·CCLab, Lausanne (Prof. Thomas Keller and Ing. Tara Habibi)
  • SUPSl·Mechanica / Engineering and Material Technology Institute (Ing. Luca Diviani and Ing. Simone Salamina)

Project partner:

  • LT Bruno Lehmann, Trub
  • Jakob Rope Systems, Trubschachen
  • BWB, Stans-Oberdorf
  • Mateduc composites, Ste. Gemme
  • Friderici special, Tolochenaz
  • G.M.I. General Montaggi lndustriali, Villadose

Photos: AEA SA Bellinzona / Geneva