Save the date: June 3-5, 2019, Milan, Italy


The 6th International TensiNet Symposium “Softening the Habitats: Sustainable Innovations in Minimal Mass Structures and Lightweight Architectures” will take place from the 3th to the 5th of June 2019 at Politecnico di Milano (PoliMi), in Milan, Italy. The 2019 TensiNet Symposium (TS19) is organized and hosted by the TensiNet Association and in particular by PoliMi and Textile Hub, which is an interdepartmental research laboratory on textiles and polymers based in PoliMi.

The 2019 TensiNet edition will open a twofold reflection – by means of both a conference and an exhibition– on current innovations, trends and strategies in the field of lightweight membrane structures and mainly on the future of those technologies, on which the TensiNet Association’s interest is focused: tensile and pneumatic structures, textile architecture, membranes and foils, ultra-lightweight constructions and structural skins.

Indeed, lightweight structures have been regularly applied in the field of human construction, and have been so for more than ten thousand years. Since the first pioneering innovations of Frei Otto and Buckminster Fuller, the membrane structures have recently seen a considerable expansion due to the promising prospects that they offer, accounting for a larger proportion of the overall volume of buildings. The last few decades have brought numerous significant innovations in terms of materials, design and computation tools, as well as construction detailing and installation methodology. As a consequence of such innovative applications, membrane construction now has an established place in the field of Architecture. It is increasingly pivotal by now an analysis on the existing state of the art and a prefiguration of the scenarios concerning the textile architecture. Can we expect any major innovations in this area? What part of our imagination still remains to be explored today? Will current technical advancements in materials production lead to lighter and more efficient structures and to greater environmentally sustainable enclosures? What is the biggest challenge of the next few decades in the field of tent construction? Can we envision a future where unknown durable and recyclable materials will contribute to decrease the current conflicts between society and nature?

The main theme proposed for the next 2019 symposium edition – Softening the Habitats – entails to investigating constraints but also opportunities of textile architecture for dealing with a near softer future in building architecture.

Three mornings of inspiring keynote lectures plus a number of plenary sessions, followed by just as afternoons of parallel sessions will create a very special event where experts in the areas of membrane architecture and engineering, as well as researchers and industry representatives are invited to contribute to constructive debates on soft structures, softening the environment and soft skins.

Thus, on one side, the conference will focus on how building technologies on membranes are being more and more directed towards achieving a smaller environmental footprint and obtaining more resilient cities and landscapes. On the other side, the exhibit will start one week prior to the conference and it will show an exhaustive picture of responsibilities at various levels – academia, industries, practitioners, construction sector and standards – acting on tensile, membrane and foil constructions in Europe and worldwide. The aim of the exposition is first and foremost to support the role of the TensiNet Association as a disseminator of information at the regional level and amplifying it to the global scale, and vice-versa. Eventually, a deeper understanding of the latest, most emblematic tensile constructions and of the different team collaborations on these specific projects will provide an unprecedented mapping of information and material flows. In this way, the exhibit will be promoting knowledge on recent innovations related to the environmental mitigation and adaptation towards more sustainable materials in textile architecture.

To cope with the complexity of the theme, the 6th TensiNet Symposium is structured by:

  • 3 Plenary sessions, namely Soft Structures, Softening the Environment, Soft Skins;

  • 1 Academia vs Industry Open Talk Session, linked to the Exhibition;

  • 5 Parallel sessions which are expected to drive and spread 10 different topics on special technical issues, reviews of State of the Art and case studies.

In the “Soft Structures” Plenary session, the future frontiers of tensile membrane structures will be explored thanks the involvement of a variety of disciplines and perspectives. The concept of lightness will shift its essence from vision to necessity, from shape to matter, while lightweight structures will have to become fully energy-saving, efficiently load-bearing and, last but not least, carrying on novel concepts of beauty, flexible functions and adaptive structures. The summary of key topics of the “Soft Structures” Plenary session is: Structural Lightness, Structural efficiency, New materials & unpredictable shapes, Metal free structures, hybrid structures, Detailing & installation.

Furthermore, the Plenary session “Softening the Environment” will focus on the pivotal role of designing, manufacturing and building architectures, structures and landscapes and their impacts on global sustainability challenges. The main goal of the Plenary session is to draw the attention to measuring the quality of current and future lightweight constructions in terms of environmental efficiency, user’s comfort, materials and building products’ durability and end-life scenarios.

The summary of key topics of the “Softening the Environment” Plenary session is: Weight reduction opportunities in design and manufacturing, Material selection strategies in lightweight industry and in lightweight construction, Standard regulations, sustainability targets for the next textile architecture, Production methods, Environmental product declaration and Life Cycle Assessment Methodology.

Finally, the third Plenary session “Soft Skins” will be devoted to the crucial and challenging topic of living structures. We have been long wishing for unwoven, seamless, elastic and durable materials, such as a kind natural fleeces and thin shells. Further basic researches and outstanding practices are leading the development of novel resilient structures and adaptive skins, which will be able to perform a next generation of human constructions. The summary of key topics of the Soft Skins Plenary Session is: Novel aesthetics, Material and light effects, Designing with advanced lightweight materials, Solar design and daylighting optimization, Energy active skins, Energy/thermal management, Sound insulation, Detailing and installation.

Several Parallel sessions will eventually explore the following main sub-topics: the “Movement in Lightweight Structures” will unfold the topics: Demountable structures and Kinetic/ Kinematic/ Foldable structures. In parallel, the session “Recently Built Structures” will unfold the topics: Pneumatic & air-supported structures and Complex/ hybrid structures.

The Parallel session: “Environmental Compatible Membrane Structures” (IASS WG18 Environmentally Compatible Structures joined session) will unfold the topics: Design & Simulation and Analysis & Performances assessment.

Lastly, the Parallel sessions “Adaptive of Membrane-based Skins” and “Adaptivity of Transparent Foils-based Skins” will unfold the topics: Design & Simulation and Thermal & Acoustic Comfort.


* For exhibitors and sponsorship opportunities, please contact: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

** TS2019 organizing committee, please contact: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Politecnico di Milano

Alessandra Zanelli, Carol Monticelli

TensiNet association

Evi Corne, Marijke Mollaert, Bernd Stimpfle