Engineering Proposal: when value engineering makes a difference

Engineering Proposal and Value Analysis: today we’ll talk about our involvement in the analysis and research of the materials and construction processes of an imposing suspended ceiling.


For the realization of a suspended ceiling composed of different petal-shaped elements and bespoke lamps, Devoto Design was asked to develop a preliminary analysis to find the most suitable material.

Like in all projects, there was a list of requisites that the Client shared and asked to stick to. We’ll see them later..

Engineering Proposal: how many people does it take for a mock-up?

As you can easily assume, our team was just one of the many involved in the presentation of its own Value engineering. Each team was asked to complete a mock-up, that is a small portion of the suspended ceiling with its petals and lamps.

All the companies involved were also asked to install the mock-up all together in the same room and at the same time. Well, while the other companies employed about 10 workers to install their mock-up, there were only two of us; while it took all the available time (an entire morning) to the other companies, it only took 15 minutes to us to install our mock-up. How was that possible?

THANKS TO A MAGNET FIXING SYSTEM conceived by our team that required little time and a few people.

But let’s slow down. Let’s go back to the engineering step to better understand how we came up with this idea and how we got to this result..

The project requisites

These were the requisites that our team had to stick to:

  • Colour: white
  • Fixing system: as simple as possible. Not only for maintenance and cleaning reasons but also for a simple access to the hidden systems
  • Modularity: a modular system made of whole petals and half petals was requested, so that they could be combined and matched according to the design needs. there were 25 types of petals and half petals at first.
  • Material: as resistant as possible
  • Lamps: easy to fix and remove
  • Fire resistance 
  • Acoustic performance

An alternative material

First thing, our R&D team focused on the material. The task was clear: find an alternative to aluminium. A light metal, of course, that for its own nature was perfect for a suspended ceiling like this, it brought along some problems though, the biggest of which was related to its processing time.

To obtain the “petal” shape in aluminium we would have needed more parts to be eventually assembled. We’d’ve needed to use the press and to finish the petal with an anodizing process or with powder paint.

On the other hand, our proposal used HPCM: High-Performance Cementitious Material.

HPCM IS A LIQUID MATERIAL mainly used in aviation and infrastructures for its features of high resistance and low maintenance. 

The liquid nature of HPCM makes it possible to have any shape you like. You only need to prepare moulds first.

This is how we were able to obtain the complex shape of the petal in only one piece. And an easily replicable one.

Among the other advantages of HPCM we can’t but mention the following:

  • Final product: with this material we obtain the final product
  • No finish: the final product doesn’t need any painting or finishing operations.

Engineering Proposal: all the improvements

Once we found the material that better suited the project design and needs, we enlisted all the improvements that the use of this material would have brought along:

  • Weight reduction of the petal
  • Total removability of all elements for maintenance and cleaning reasons
  • Simple and fast fixing system that meant low installation costs
  • Little maintenance needed
  • Safety cabling  system of all elements to the ceiling, to make sure they were properly fixed
  • Finished product:  no pre-assembling needed
  • Geometry optimization by reducing the types of petals for production optimization reasons

Determining fixing system

Among these improvements, the Value Engineering DEVOTO presented marked the necessity of a quick and safe fixing system:

OUR ENGINEERING TEAM came up with a magnetic system that allowed a quick installation of both petals and lamps without needing any tools.

This suspended ceiling was meant to be delivered and installed in different places for a total surface of thousands of square metres. That’s why we deemed necessary to find a quick installation system that would not require special equipment or skilled staff and that could then reduce the general costs of the project.

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