How Can a Building be Made of Fabric?
The use of textiles and membranes in the architecture industry have increased over the past few years. This is because among their numerous benefits, the durability and energy efficiency of textiles have made them desirable for building applications and subject to experimentation for further use of them within the industrial and commercial industries. The most recent fascination with textiles is using them as a primary source for buildings rather than their current function as a secondary component in the design process.
One of the common ways that fabric is used today is by stretching it over a substructure. In the image above, you can see how PVC tension fabric is used to protect the building. Known for its efficiency, PVC tension fabric membranes stand up to strong winds, extreme temperatures and heavy snow loads. While the material has yet to be used to solely construct a building, it has been used in various contexts throughout the construction industry. Some of the most popular places using PVC is entertainment venues and select airports.
Another popular way that textiles are used is as insulation. The material choice is fiberglass. Unlike the PVC membrane that can be viewed by the public, fiberglass is predominately layered inside the wall and only viewed by the contractor. Fiberglass has been the used as a base material in most construction projects because of its energy efficiency.
There are multiple reasons why individuals would want to experiment with the use of textiles. Perhaps some of the most alluring reasons is because of the environmental bonuses such as being weatherproof, flame retardant, mold and mildew resistant, and UV treated to resist damage caused by the sun.
A group of Bartlett students have recognized the favourable aspects of using textiles for construction and have proposed turning fabric into a self-supporting architecture model.
Source: Alaska Structures