What is fabric architecture?
Fabric architecture is a relatively new architectural form that
has been gaining in popularity over the last 30 - 40 years. Also
called tensile membrane architecture, tension membrane architecture
or fabric membrane structure architecture, it refers to structures
that are composed mainly of steel frames with fabric tent-like
roofs made of material (such as the polyethylene shadecloth netting
used by TricoShade) that is held under tension.
Steady technological progress has increased the popularity of
fabric roofed structures in recent years. The low weight of the
materials makes fabric architectural construction easier and cheaper
than standard building designs, especially when vast open spaces
have to be covered.
What are some of the famous examples
of fabric architecture?
Some recent large scale, high profile public
tensile structures are the Millennium Dome in London and
the Denver Airport, shown above.
Others include the Pontiac Silverdome and the Mecca airport.
Who are some of the famous architects
and engineers that design fabric architecture?
Frei Otto, the duo of Nicholas Goldsmith & Todd Dalland
at FTL Design & Engineering Studio, Horst Berger, and David
Where is fabric architecture used?
This form of architecture is well suited for sheltering large
public areas, such as stadiums, arenas, outdoor shelters, and
airport terminals. In the US, California and Florida have led
the way in the use of fabric architecture and it continues to
gain popularity through out other states. TricoShade, based in
Texas, offers a wide range of commercial, recreational, and residential
uses of fabric architecture. For example, TricoShade designs and
manufactures fabric architecture carports to cover large areas
as required by auto manufacturers to protect hundreds of vehicles
from hail and sun damage while the cars are waiting to be transported
to distributors.TricoShade also provides architectural fabric
carport structures for auto dealers, airport parking, apartment
and commercial complexes, car rental companies, etc.
Other markets served by TricoShade and other fabric structure
manufacturers can also include: playgrounds, child care centers,
schools, sports facilities, public bus stops, restaurants, hotels,
office buildings, boat docks, etc, etc.
Products manufactured by TricoShade also include: free-standing
awnings, canopies, shade structures, shade gazebos, residential
carports, sunbrellas, boat covers, RV covers, walkway covers,
animal shade covers, etc.
We also provide smaller architectural fabric structures
in the form of shade sail structures, canopy awnings, sunbrellas,
etc. for anything under the sun.
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What are some of the advantages of fabric
- Fabric architectural structures are more economical to design
and manufacture than normal buildings.
- The low weight of the materials makes fabric architectural
construction easier and cheaper than standard building designs,
especially when vast open spaces have to be covered.
- Fabric roofs or sidings give you the possibility of adding
attractive signage and logos to help advertise businesses.
- Many fabric architectural structures are designed so that
the fabric can be removed if there is danger of a hurricane.
This helps prevent damage to a structure in a way that is not
possible with roofed building structures. It also helps prevent
damage to surrounding property from flying shingles or metal
- Because of their uniqueness and originality, fabric structures
can attract extra attention to a business.
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What kind of fabric architecture designs
does TricoShade offer?
TricoShade's standards models of tensile membrane
structures have hip roofs, pyramid roofs or dome roofs. But we
have specialized engineers who frequently create custom designs
for our clients. Please see our photo
gallery to see examples of projects we have created.
What are some of the things one should
be aware of when considering fabric architecture as an option?
According to the Industrial
Fabrics Association International (IFAI), the industry authority,
one needs to be selective when looking for fabric structures.
They need to comply with engineering standards. Questions to ask
- How long has the company been in business?
- Are all the designs approved by a qualified
- What kind of warranty does the company provide?
- What kind of fabric is used? Is it weather
resistant? Is it guaranteed not to fade in the sun? Is it mold-proof?
How tear-resistant is it?
- What does the company specialize in? Small awnings and canopies,
or large stand-alone structures? There is a significant difference
because of the engineering required in large stand structures.
The American Society of Civil Engineers publishes a range of
minimum wind load standards for different types of fabric architecture
structures. Reputable manufacturers, such as TricoShade Inc,
abide by these standards and their structures can withstand
winds of up to 140 miles per hour if needed.
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