University of Portsmouth – Portland Building


Midas Construction Ltd




Studio Four Architects



Interconnected Hypar Fabric Canopies

Formerly used as a School of Architecture, the Portland Building was designed by Sir Colin Stansfield-Smith in the 1990’s. In 2014 the building required complete remodelling and refurbishment by University of Portsmouth to accommodate new schools for Business, Civil Engineering and Information Services, with Studio Four architects acting as lead consultants on the new scheme.

Our Solution

A key success of the redevelopment included bringing an external, under-utilised courtyard into use with resurfacing and new tensile fabric canopy shelters. One of our pre-designed fabric canopies Playsail-4P-500 was used to create a series of six simple hypar fabric canopies manufactured from Type 2 PVC fabric and measuring 4.7m x 4.7m in plan were tensioned to shared posts. The substantial posts rising from the ground are made from galvanised mild steel, linking the individual fabric elements into a much larger modular structure.


The structure as a whole is reminiscent of ship masts and sails – and it not only provides shelter to extend the usable external space but also helps to create a new identity for the Portland building. We hope this architectural flourish is one that Sir Colin Stansfield Smith would have approved of!

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