A giant screen built for the University of Bristol by Uckfield-based company Design and Display Structures is eased into place.

Uckfield-based business builds giant solar screen for University of Bristol

Uckfield-based business Design and Display Structures has designed, built and suspended a giant solar screen in the shape of a mathematical puzzle in front of glazing at the University of Bristol.

The university is investing £33m in transforming the Grade II listed Fry Building to become the new home of its School of Mathematics.


A special base was built by Design and Display Structures so that a jigsaw of pieces could be put together before the solar screen was hoisted into place.

A three-storey atrium has been built, and includes the screen, constructed by Design and Display Structures, in the form of a Voronoi pattern.

Allan Curtis of Hempstead Road, Uckfield, said his company was awarded the contract to build the sculpture, using glass-reinforced plastic (GRP),  by Balfour Beatty UKCS. The project architect is WilkinsonEyre.


The GRP screen is raised from the wooden base where it was assembled ready to be suspended in front of a three-storey atrium.

It was CAD designed, including Finite Element Analysis, a method of simulating/analysing the behaviour of engineering structures under a variety of conditions.

The screen was manufactured in cell components before being shipped, assembled on site and installed using a single crane lift.


Up goes the giant screen which is built in the shape of a mathematical Voronoi pattern.

Mr Curtis said the weight saving in using GRP, over steel, the originally considered material, was significant and contributed to reducing loads on the background support structures.

The bespoke fibreglass screen is made up of 122 unique cells and is cantilevered out on just a few horizontal beams. The hanging process required close engineering and positioning coordination between Design & Display and a glazing company.


The giant solar screen is attached to the glass atrium behind.

Mr Curtis said a special base was created for the purpose of putting together the jigsaw of pieces before installation.

The screen is about 11m wide and 12m tall, with a depth of 250mm.

A video showing the screen being lifted into place can be seen below.

• Contact details For Design and Display Structures can be found 24/7 in our Uckfield Directory. Look for the name or search in categories for Architectural-themed Features, Construction, and GRP manufacturer.

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