A2. Each structure we design has to comply with European Tensile Structure Guidelines. They also have to adhere to the British Standard Codes for wind and snow loading (BS 6399 parts 2 & 3). This requires that each structure we design undergoes a myriad of engineering calculations and data analysis to prove the constructions safety loadings. These calculations and engineering analyses are then correlated against the geographical data of where the structure is to be installed. The resulting build data enables us to design, build and install in compliance with the above UK and European construction codes. Fully signed off paperwork is provided to verify the above.
So you are aware – You may find that not all competitor offerings undergo this process, meaning a sail fabric shade structure might not be suitable for certain weather conditions or geographical locations. It is vitally important that you state the full intended ‘year round’ use of your structure and installation location at the very outset to avoid both practicality and health & safety issues.
A5. This really depends on your budget, the design and what materials are used in the construction. Fabrics such as PVC and PTFE have a lifespan of anything between 5-30 years, with silicone coated glass fibre fabric and ETFE’s having between 20-50 years. The budget you put towards the fabric determines its grade, properties and overall lifespan. To try and be more competitive, a lot of companies will look to use cheaper fabrics – shorting the structures lifespan. It is vitally important that when you look at competitive costs you ensure that you are comparing like with like.
Additionally to this, maintenance also plays a large part of the structures lifespan. Regular maintenance and cleaning of your structure not only maintains its appearance, but also helps increase its operational lifespan.
A4. As these structures are required to be manufactured using relatively delicate / thin membrane fabrics ‘compared to solid event structures’, cleaning should be carried out with this in mind. For PVC structures a low powered jet wash or a soft brush and mild soapy water can be used. For nylon or polyester based structures the process can be the same – however, the low powered jet wash must be at least 5ft from the fabric to prevent damaging. Always start the jet wash pointed away from the structure as the first output will be high pressured before cutting back. For best results and less risk of damage the structure should to be inflated.
Always ensure that the structure is laid out and fully air dried before packing away. Damp fabrics decay at a faster rate than that of dry fabrics; they also attract mould and mildew, discolouring the structure.
A5. Many people do not realise that an air inflated fabric event structure has to comply with building codes and local authority health & safety – it is a legal requirement. Each structure we design complies with European Tensile Structure Guidelines. They are also designed to adhere to the British Standard Codes for wind and snow loading (BS 6399 parts 2 & 3) – this is the same as with tensile membrane structures. This requires that each structure undergoes a myriad of engineering calculations and data stress analysis to prove the constructions safety loadings. These calculations and engineering analyses are correlated to produce wind speed tolerances under which the structure must be operated. In the UK most authorities require that an event structure follows similar wind load tolerances as a marquee. Accepted tolerances depends upon regional authorities requirements. This can be anything from 40mph – 52mph.
On top of this you should also be looking for certification of the structures fire retardant properties. This is also a legal requirement.
You should be aware – Most competitor offerings may come from Asia and may not have been engineered to adhere to such engineering or safety requirements. Unapproved or unwarranted engineering documentation could invalidate your public liability insurance.
A1. There are many benefits of a tension membrane building which can make them a better option than traditional structures. For instance, due to the opaque properties of the membrane covering, natural light floods from above, removing the need for lighting during the day. Additionally, fabric wrapped buildings can provide improved U- values over and above traditional buildings. Just these two benefits dramatically reduce the operational running costs of a tensile membrane building. Other significant benefits include:
A3. Realistically the answer is as long as you want it to be. Being an aluminium or steel frame constriction the only consideration is the membrane fabric itself.
Depending which membrane fabric is used to wrap the structure depends on how long it will last before the need to replace. For instance low grade Polyethylene fabrics, which are often used by the cheap end of the market to keep cost to a minimum, only have a 3-5 year life expectancy; whilst a type III tensile membrane fabric that is lacquered can have a lifespan up to 30-Years.
Be Aware – You should always know what the membranes lifespan is before choosing whom to purchase from. Simply asking for a type of fabric does not guarantee its lifespan. We have seen several tensile structures that have been clad with ‘what is supposed to be a good quality fabric’ only to need replacing with 5-years. This is because cheap imported fabrics are being used – fabrics which look the same but are not the same. At Shade Sculpture we only use European fabrics which come with a guaranteed lifespan – backed by certification from the supplying fabrics manufacturer.