Tension fabric structures can be large, extra large or absolutely MASSIVE. When someone says “tension structure” or “tensile membrane” you may be tempted to think only of major league ballparks, epic amphitheaters, and big-budget mass transit stations, but tension structure design has its place in just about every other facet of architectural life. So when you’re thinking big, don’t forget to think small too. Here’s five applications for smaller tension fabric structures that will still leave a big impression.
One: Patios. Go alfresco if you’re designing a restaurant or even an outdoor classroom by incorporating a large shade structure. The translucent properties of PTFE soften harsh mid-day sun, reduce the temperature inside, and at night can set a romantic mood for diners.
Two: Parking Lots. One sure way to rake in the big parking lot bucks is to help keep people’s rearview mirrors from melting off their dashboards (this happened to me in Laughlin once, and towing a boat for 200 miles without one is real creepy). Tension fabric structures help reduce heat island effect in a way concrete, wood, metal and clay simply can’t. Not to mention they’re open-air, bright, and attractive. Plus there’s less chance of losing your car in one. (Pictured above is a parking lot tension fabric structure at Nokia Headquarters)
Three: Sports Parks. Whether watching the pros play, or just your nephew in Pony league – you know how important it is to stay cool during a long hot game. Fabric structures can be designed to cover any pre-existing metal or concrete bleacher system with limited columns so as not to obstruct the views. And depending on the type of fabric you choose, your seating canopy can be used as a sponsored advertising spot to draw more revenue for your team or community organization. Toyota Stadium is a great example of a relatively small and simple tension fabric structure. A similar design could be applied at any minor or recreation league sports complex.
Four: Bus Stops. (and other transit) How many people can fit in your a bus shelter booths? Or your airport taxi stand? Or the train station? Waiting at a bus stop in Wayne, NJ I noticed how these pre-engineered bus stop shelter booths (pretty typical around the country) never seem big enough to handle the capacity of riders and are often obscured by SUVs and large trucks. FabriTec has designed both small and large transportation structures. You can see a collection of them by clicking here to visit our project photo gallery of airports and transportation plazas.
Five: The Great INdoors. With the economy seeming to recover and retail picking up, commercial building has picked up again and renovations are in full swing at most shopping centers in order to attract shoppers and their money. Tension structures make a lot of sense indoors at malls, but FabriTec has also installed them as features at hospitals, medical centers and community centers like the one pictured here in New Jersey.