ETFE Canopy at the Australian Embassy in Jakarta

Case study on a lightweight structure using ETFE



Photo of Bjoern Beckert

Bjoern Beckert

Managing Director



In 2015, Australia’s largest embassy complex in the world was built in Jakarta, Indonesia, to provide an official residence for Australia’s permanent mission to Indonesia. Fabritecture Australia Pty Ltd (“Fabritecture”) was contracted for the design & construction of a 2-layer ETFE pneumatic cushion canopy suspended over the chancellery courtyard at the Embassy. The structure was designed to create an architectural piece that resembled a cloud ‘floating’ in the sky, but also to provide functional weather protection to the people in the courtyard below.

Using the Embassy project as an example, this report will demonstrate the advantages of ETFE over other traditional construction materials, especially glass, in a blast sensitive environment. One focus of the report will be on the design and engineering process with the aim to utilize the maximum capacity of the ETFE system.


The client’s design brief for the Australian Embassy project in Jakarta, Indonesia required a bespoke lightweight canopy structure that, when viewed by patrons in the courtyard below, resembled a floating

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The structural support system selected by Fabritecture to meet the client’s brief comprised a stainless-steel support frame, along with stainless steel tie rods that fix to the concrete substructure of

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ETFE Characteristics

ETFE has the following characteristics as described in (LeCuyer, 2008).


ETFE was invented by DuPont whilst working for Nasa in the 1950s. Nasa found that space craft electrical instrumentation was degrading

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Comparison with Glass

In recent years, ETFE has gained traction in facade and skylight applications, often finding favor over traditional glazed units for a variety of reasons. In comparison to glass, ETFE film

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ETFE System Selection

One of the great advantages of ETFE over glass is its ability to span greater distances due to its lightweight nature. The optimal span for ETFE is 5 m (16’

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Main Structure

The engineering design and structural calculations for the supporting steel framework was carried out by Maffeis Engineering.

The seven identical ETFE cushions are supported via floating curved stainless-steel box beams. The

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Drainage and Guttering

To manage water run-off, a gutter system on each side has been designed into the canopy to not only catch rainwater but also to hide the ducting for the air

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Air Supply System

An air supply unit is required to supply air to each cushion comprising the roof and to maintain the optimal design pressure for the entire roof. The size and number

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Installation Methodology

Installation of ETFE cushion systems is typically simpler and quicker than an equivalent sized glazed unit system installation, due to the lighter weight, ease of handling, and less structural supporting

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Conclusion and Future Work

The use of ETFE systems allows the creation of highly aesthetic, lightweight canopies and facades for projects world-wide. With its intrinsic durability, ability to regulate light transmission, low maintenance, and

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Special thanks to Lisa James from Fabritecture reviewing and finalizing the paper.

Rights and Permissions

Book: LeCuyer, Annette, ETFE: Technology and Design, Birkhäuser, 2008

Article: Lamnatou, Cr., Morenoa, A., Chemisanaa, D., Reitsmab, F., Clariác, F., Ethylene tetrafluoroethylene (ETFE) material: Critical issues and applications with emphasis on buildings, Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, 2018

Article: Hertzsch, Eckhart & Crawford, Robert, A life cycle energy comparison of a textile and glass roof for a climatic envelope in Beijing, 2011, China.

Article: Robinson-Gayles, S., Kolokotroni, M., Cripps, A., and Tanno, S., ETFE foil cushions in roofs and atria, Construction and Building Materials, 2001, 15(7): 323-327.etc.

Article: Ströbel, D., Singer P., Holl, J., Holistic Calculation of (Multi)-Chambered ETFE-Cushions, Tensinet Symposium [RE]THINKING lightweight structures 2013, Mimar Sinan Fine-Art University, 2013, Istanbul

Article: Ströbel, D., Holl, J., Powerful Tools for Formfinding, Statics and Patterning of Pneumatic Structures, 24th International Workshop on the Design and Practical Realization of Architectural Membrane Structures, 2019, Berlin

Dissertation: Moritz, Dissertation: ETFE-Folie als Tragelement, 2017, Muenchen

Brochure: elnic, ELUFT AND ELUFT ECO SERIES, 2019, Rosenheim