So you want to build a permanent fabric structure?
Here are three important considerations to keep in mind as you get started!
First, know the intended purpose for your structure.
Is the structure going to provide shelter from sun or rain? Is it needed to reduce the heat-island effect that so many cities struggle to overcome? Is the structure purely an artistic piece to create atmosphere and invite people to linger? Knowing the purpose for the structure can not only help with design direction but also determine what types and how many pieces of fabric will be required. Rain, snow, and wind loads are also taken into consideration so the designs can be precisely engineered.
(Left image) Tree To Tree is an aerial adventure course in Gaston, OR. A purely functional, yet attractive canopy was needed for a patio to provide shade and rain shelter. We used a coated architectural fabric with a hexagonal design. While this functional piece solves shelter requirements, it also provides a unique gathering spot for guests to rest. It’s especially alluring with a warm glow when the sun shines due to the color of the fabric.
(Center & Right images) “Dancing Sky” is a purely artistic piece that needed to create atmosphere for the walkways and plazas throughout Arizona Center in Phoenix, AZ. Because this design didn’t have shelter requirements, specialized netting was used to create an ethereal structure that shifts and moves with the changing light and wind patterns.
Second, know your site location.
It’s very important to know what the structure will be built upon, what is under the ground, and if your structure will be freestanding or will attach to other existing buildings. If your project is going to be built directly onto the ground as a freestanding structure, obtain soil tests to determine ground types such as sandy loam, hard rock, etc. This helps determine what types of footings and posts will be required to build the structure. An underground utilities map will also ensure a successful design if building within a city or residential area. We are currently building a permanent, freestanding, fabric structure in Phoenix, AZ that uses precisely engineered posts, footings and guylines. Our design will help provide a vibrant plaza full of life with a coffee cart, music and food while providing ample shade and reducing heat island effects.
Some structures are designed to attach to existing buildings. In this case, ensuring the buildings have enough reserve capacity to support the new loads and working with a structural engineer is essential. Benefits of creating a structure that is attached to existing buildings are that it can save costs by eliminating extra posts, foundations and footings and it can be aesthetically complementary, enhancing the existing structures.
We recently completed Camperdown in Greenville, NC. Because this design anchors to other buildings, the structure is able to elegantly fan out across the plaza. An urban branding project, Camperdown now provides a unique focal point for shopping, restaurants, music, and gathering outdoors.
Third, know the scale you want designed and built for your structure.
Interestingly, it’s more cost effective to build a permanent fabric structure rather than a traditional structure as your spans go larger. Tensile structures are known as a more efficient structural force and it costs less to support large spans of fabric than it does to build using traditional construction materials and methods. This is why many gigantic stadiums are made using fabric. Added benefits of large scale fabric construction are that it uses fewer resources and creates less waste, resulting in a more sustainable method of building.
GuildWorks specializes in large scale, elegant arrays that create an atmosphere and experience that tents and traditional building covers cannot provide. These elegant, long-lasting and innovative designs consistently deliver a wow-factor for which we’ve become known. When a client is seeking to create an experiential environment to brand their space or create a memorable place, they turn to GuildWorks.
The original cover for the Riverfront Park Pavilion in Spokane, WA, was a massive full fabric piece. Since the city was revitalizing this iconic structure, rain shelter was less of a priority which opened up other possibilities for design. We were able to create a large scale array that provides a compelling and attractive atmosphere for the stage and plaza. When the sun shines, an elegant shade pattern covers the ground; at night lights reflect off the pieces, creating dynamic visuals overhead. This project recently won 16 awards internationally in 2020!
These are a few of the many important factors when considering a permanent, fabric structure for your project. Our expertise in engineering, design and construction can help you gather the information you need to get started on your project. Our full-service design build studio can guide you through conceptual design, to engineering, to fabrication and installation. To get started with a free quote, take a moment to fill out our online contact form. Our knowledgeable sales team is available to answer all of your questions!