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This En-Fold® retractable canopy covers a courtyard and dining area of a historic hotel in the heart of Cartagena, Columbia, South America. The client requested retractable weather protection for an open‐air, five‐story high courtyard space that needed to be fully utilized; inclement weather prevents full use of the space on a regular basis.

Cartagena is an old city founded in the 1500s by the Spanish. The site of the project lies within historic walls, (a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site), and the walls could not be breached by large construction cranes. All materials had to be unloaded from their shipping container outside the city walls, necessitating the unusual practice of delivering heavy equipment by hand: Crews up to 12 men carried and wheeled long beams through the gates of the historic wall to the hotel and through the front lobby to the courtyard.

The primary challenge was the irregular shape of the courtyard. No two walls are parallel or of of the same length, no walls are straight. The courtyard measures roughly 46 feet deep by 74 feet wide, but depth varies from one end to the other. Hence, each of the En-Fold® canopy’s four drive beams is a different length and a trapezoidal fabric panel was created to fit the oddly shaped space.

As no crane access was allowed within the city walls, all hoisting to install the drive beams at the fifth floor parapet level had to be done with custom‐built roofer’s derricks and hand-operated cable hoists.

The successfully completed project has pleased the owner with its performance and appearance, and the courtyard restaurant now serves three meals a day without interruption, even during heavy rains.

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Project Information

Charleston Hotel Group
Completion Date: 
Project Scope: 
Design, Supply, and Installation
Engineer of Record: 
Mayer Structural Design Inc.
Fabric Fabricator: 
Lightweight Manufacturing
Plan Area: 
3,287 sq ft
Design Wind Load: 
En‐Fold Retractable Canopy: 

Extension: 46 ft

Width: 73‐ft‐10‐in

Number of drive beams: 4

Fabric: Sefar Tenara® 4T40