Tensile Membrane Structures Emerging Trends

Tensile Membrane Structures Emerging Trends


Tensile membrane structures are exciting, practical and cost-effective options to cover new or existing areas to provide shade and shelter. They are flexible and light weight structures and can be moulded in any shape and size to meet the specific need in given environment. Tensile membrane structures are most often used as roofs as they can economically and attractively span large distances. They can also act as canopies, skylight, and covered walk- ways, shading systems or atrium roofs, reports, Maria R.

Tensile structure is not a new concept but is probably one of the oldest methods used to provide protection from adverse climatic conditions. Evidence confirms that people have been making tents for at least 15,000 years, initially using animal skins. In due course of time man also learned to use woven fabrics for the purpose. The military have been long known for using the tents as a valuable structures in battle fields. Tents are easy to erect and disassemble, are relatively weather-tight, and lightweight too.

Possibly, ancient Egyptians were the first civilization to use pieces of fabric for shade. They also found sails useful for harnessing the wind power to travel in sailing boats way back in 3,500 BC. Greeks and Romans also used large pieces of fabric in their buildings. Actually, Romans used large canvas "sails" to provide shade to spectators at the Colosseum in Rome pulled into place by sailors.

Modern technology has terribly transformed the way these tensile structures are made. In addition to being more weather-proof and lighter in weight than sticks and animal skins, modern fabrics offer advantages such as protection from ultraviolet (UV) radiation and greater wind resistance. They are also coated with materials that resist UV degradation.

A tensile structure can be thought of as an umbrella and create tension in different ways, depending on the size of the area that needs to be covered. In a basic pup tent, tension is created by the poles on which the frame of the tent rests. In the case of larger structures, more durable material such as fiberglass-coated polyurethane is used to provide structure integrity. Usually, these structures also have as their base lines of steel cable forming a cable net, giving the structure its shape while allowing it to be flexible at the same time. There are even some tensile structures that do not need any supporting framework whatsoever. In this case, pressurized air is used to create the needed tension.

Tensioned membrane material is considered to be the fifth construction element after metal, stone, glass, and concrete and today the popularity of this material is growing throughout the world. Modern fabric materials in modern architecture can shape space, enabling architects to sculpt 3-dimensional areas in a manner that is not possible with any other type of material. Some of the famous membrane architectures are

MGS Architecture May June 2010

Tensile fabrics, membrane roofing, structure, architecture

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The wonder of the structures at the Beijing Olympics venues was a revelation to the scope of possibilities utilizing tensile structures in the construction world. Closer home the stadia put up for the Commonwealth Games and various cricket venues incorporated these structures Read More ...

Tensile - The New Design Vocabulary in Structure and Architecture

Tensile Structure and Architecture
The history of tensile structures and tent-type housing, is as old as mankind itself. Leaves, barks leather and felt, existed much before fabrics. The Ancient Egyptians were probably the first civilization to use pieces of fabric for shade. They also found sails useful Read More ...
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