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Shade Sail Technical Information

Why use a tensile structure over a traditional building

Fabrics offer a versatility which cannot be easily achieved using traditional building materials. They can be stretched into interesting and dynamic forms and for the comparative cost, offer incredible value for money whilst offering shade and protection from the weather.

Compare the cost of erecting a 5m x 5m static building to a 5m x 5m hyperbolic shade structure. There are significant labour savings when installing a shade structure, without mentioning the material savings of a timber or steel and concrete structure.

By simply changing the colour of the canopy, you can also change the look and feel of a shade structure quickly and easily at a very low cost. The maintenance of a shade structure is also minimal and very low cost.

Benefits and Features of Fabric

  • Fabrics can demonstrate natural forces in creative 3-dimensional forms
  • Fabrics offer a highly efficient and attractive way of covering any space
  • Fabrics offer low maintenance canopy solutions
  • Lightweight and flexible, whilst remaining robust
  • A fabric structure can be designed for almost any condition and can cope with extreme wind and snow loads.
  • Colours and materials are extremely versatile

What is a tensile structure?

Tensile is a term used simply to describe a fabric which is under tension, i.e. being pulled in opposing directions. It can take many forms although it is generally based around three shapes, the Cone, Double Curved Barrel and the Hypar or (hyperbolic shape).

Important Design Factors

A tensile structure should be viewed as an integral part of a building, rather than an add on, even though it may be categorised as an optional extra. It should be included in the design process from the concept stages, and the following points considered.

  • Determine the potential loads exerted on connected buildings and/or ground
  • Calculate the footing depths and foundation detail
  • Locate the services and their proximity to the foundations and consider the relocation of either the services or foundations as necessary
  • Management of rainwater run off
  • Determine the purpose of the structure; is its use for aesthetic purposes only or is the primary function to provide shelter from the sun.
  • Positioning of the tensile structure in order to maximise the shading benefits
  • Determine whether there is a need for optional extras such as lighting, heating or anti-vandal protection
  • Determine the column finish practicality and durability versus aesthetics
  • Consider safety, particularly in settings where the structures are installed in the vicinity of young or vulnerable children or adults.

Site Considerations

  • Access
  • Proximity of the structure to buildings
  • Foundations and soil conditions
  • Drainage
  • Services

Canopy Considerations

  • UV protection
  • Shower proof
  • Waterproof
  • Flame retardant
  • Temperature
  • Appearance

Lifecycle costs

  • Maintenance
  • Fabric durability
  • Steel protection
  • Security
  • Vandalism