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Customized Versus Modular: Which Type of Tensile Fabric Facade Is Right?

By September 26, 2018 No Comments

Customized Versus Modular: Which Type of Tensile Fabric Facade Is RightIt’s no secret that a tensile fabric facade can play a major role in improving a building’s performance and energy efficiency, but architects are increasingly using facades to overcome an even broader range of challenges.  Whether your goal is to maximize the impact of a renovation, to mask certain features of the structure, or to create a memorable and unique design, a tensile fabric facade may be the solution you’ve been looking for.

There are many options to consider when conceptualizing your ideal tensile fabric facade, such as PVC-coated versus PTFE-coated membranes, but it’s important to start with the basics: which type of tensile fabric facade is right for your project?

Customized Field Assembly Facades

Ideal for truly unique designs.  One of the major benefits of customized field assembly facade designs is that they can stretch significant distances with minimal support – meaning the membrane appears seamless and uninterrupted by panel gaps.  This is often essential when working with printed membranes or for projects that require a specific visual effect.

How it works:  This type of tensile fabric facade features a tensioning framework that’s affixed to the existing structure, so the manufactured membrane can be installed onsite.  Extrusions are cut to the required dimensions, holes are drilled as necessary, and the extrusions are fastened to the structural support.  Then, the installers roll out, clip, and tension the fabric to the extrusions based on the project requirements.

This type of facade may leverage a combination of perimeter and joint profiles for ultimate stability of the membrane, or the design may call for fusing the fabric mesh together and solely using perimeter connections.  Both options would be engineered to safely withstand the area’s wind load requirements, but the latter option may result in some motion to the membrane on windy days.

Modular Panel Facades

Ideal for making a cost-effective impact.  One of the major benefits of modular panel facades is that they retain significant design flexibility while offering a simpler installation process and supporting easier access for maintenance teams.  Because of the slight shadow seams that are often visible between the membrane panels, this choice is more appropriate for projects that are utilizing less-complex prints and/or uniform color choices.

How it works:  This type of tensile fabric facade features panels that have been pre-assembled and pre-tensioned in the factory – which can help reduce the overall cost of the project by minimizing onsite labor.  During installation, clip systems are installed to the exterior of the structure, and the panels are then hung and secured.  While modular panel facades may not have the same degree of versatility as their custom field assembly counterparts, there are countless opportunities for creating interesting designs, clean and modern lines, and building performance improvements.

Sliding Panel Facades

Ideal for creating an ever-changing, functional piece of art.  A variation of modular panel facades, sliding panel facades incorporate sliding tracks and accessories into the facade’s framework.  Panel movement is either manual or powered by remote control (depending on the project requirements) and results in a unique aesthetic that’s perfect for visually representing your client’s brand personality.

Is A Tensile Fabric Facade Right for Your Project?

In the Tension Structures Division of Eide Industries, we specialize in design, engineering, manufacturing, and installation of structurally complex and creatively challenging commercial, government, and prototype design projects.  Our expertise with tensile facade systems and tension structures supports architects, designers, general contractors, and building owners in their efforts to bring custom tensile membrane projects to life.

Explore the options for your next project by calling 800-422-6827.