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Tensioned Fabric Design

Tensioned Fabric Design

For tensioned fabric design and tensile membrane architecture, the design and works process differs greatly from that of conventional buildings. Depending upon the project, tensioned fabric design and tensile membrane structural works process typically starts with a simple conceptual design idea. From then onwards structural engineering is immediately involved to calculate steel sizes and connection loadings. Only once this is done does the process move on to  computer ‘and sometimes’ physical modelling, form finding analysis and finally cutting pattern generation.

Form finding

Generally form finding is used to provide the exact shape of the structure and patenting requirements. This allows us to determine if the architects initial design concepts can cope with the stresses which the structure will undergo based upon know engineering parameters.  Anticlasitc forms as well as Synclastic forms are calculated to ensure structure formation during tensioning.  Analysis and computer simulations are carried out to find a realistic shape that complies with the architects’ vision before patenting shapes can be confirmed.

Load analysis

Due to the load pressures and forces which the structure will undergo during its operation, a non linear analysis is needed. This is conducted against geographical data, in accordance with where the structure is to be installed. The resulting data enables us to control and highlight stress, load and deformation points.

Cutting pattern generation

This requires a detailed analysis, utilising datum previously gained, to determine how the structure needs to be built and installed. Using real construction material values, engineers calculate the optimal construction methods of how the structure needs to put together. This is used to ensure the tensile membrane structure and supporting frame works are able to cope with different structural load and climatic stress conditions. A final pattern design is then produced with appropriate cable data stress points etc. Only once this has been completed can the manufacturing team then proceed to build the structure.


Once all the above has been signed off, the construction process may begin at either our UK fabrication facilities or at our European partners specialised fabrication arm . Manufacturing of the membrane is separated from the construction of any steel or frame systems and is worked on by individual teams. A single project manager oversees both construction aspects. They are then dry installed at our factory to ensure manufacturing quality, before being separated for shipping to the clients install site. With such processes and construction methods, installation is then relatively quick.