The Ta’ Qali skyline will soon witness the birth of a new massive structure that was used in the UK to host various high profile events during Wembley Stadium’s reconstruction.
The Tension Fabric Structure (TFS), until recently only available in the United Kingdom, is owned by Arena Structures. But Maltese entrepreneurs Ruben Caruana and Tony Casapinta have invested in the technology, bringing over to Malta a new dimension to the world of temporary structures.
This structure, which resembles a massive tent held up without the need to erect obstructive poles, brings new frontiers to the Maltese islands. The size of this structure is impressive. The TFS is as long as 1.5 football pitches and rises to the height of three double-decker buses stacked on top of each other.
The structure was being used next to Wembley stadium and was known as the Wembley Pavilion. The TFS replaced the Wembley stadium while it was being constructed. It hosted musical acts like Queen and Anastasia.
Arena One – the Malta Convention Centre, is the company which will own the Maltese TFS. This structure will be erected in Ta’ Qali where a similar structure but on a much smaller scale was erected by the same entrepreneurs in 2003. Ruben Caruana explained that they had learnt a lot from The Venue. The TFS would be much easier to set up. The new structure can host guests in a very comfortable and spacious environment. The TFS has a double skinned PVC frame covering the metal structure, which helps prevent condensation, cuts out the impact of outside winds and gives better heating and cooling control.
The same TFS was being used last week at the EXCEL London Boat Show, where a huge pool and some 29 wind fans were set up in the TFS to host a windsurfer competition. Winds of up to 29 knots were generated for windsurfers to be able to use the internally mounted pool. Another advantage of TFS is that no columns are needed to hold the structure up, creating an open plan that gives event organisers the possibility of redesigning the interiors to the specifications needed.
The Malta Convention Centre will be working together to provide the necessary expertise to Maltese entrepreneurs. As the TFS can hold some 10,000 seated people and some 20,000 standing, crowd control techniques have to be studied as Malta has never seen such crowds gathered in an enclosed structure. Arena has all the experience required by Maltese entrepreneurs wanting to use the structure. Arena will also help in marketing the Malta product.
Ruben Caruana stressed that Malta has a potential to exploit further MICE (Meetings, Incentives, Conference and Exhibitions) events. Caruana explained that the country loses many occasions to host such events because there is no single venue capable of catering for huge amounts of delegates. The new structure can hold an impressive range of specifications and runs high in safety standards and regulations. The central Arch can take up to 5 tonnes of sound and lighting equipment, while the stage can take up to 48 tonnes, which are satisfying enough for pop stars to perform.
The TFS is in the finishing stages of being shipped to Malta and will be erected by March. Ruben Caruana explained they already have enquiries for Arena One, including a request for an event catering for 1,200 people in mid-March. Another event, which could be close to CHOGM in magnitude, is also on the books, even if Caruana would not reveal any details.
Caruana explained the company is targeting two conferences a month. “Arena One The Malta Convention Centre is also planning to bid for a permanent permit for a convention centre where the TFS will be used. This new company strengthened by other interested shareholders will prepare to bid for the tender. While this is done the company will only have gained more experience in the field.”