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Maximizing The 5th Facade: Tensile Membrane Facades & Your Project’s Rooftop

By October 18, 2018June 16th, 2021No Comments

Never before have we seen a time where we’ve been more mobile, more connected, and more environmentally aware.  This combination has caused a shift in traditional design methodologies – with trends leading us towards innovative building solutions and evolving architectural concepts.  As tensile membrane facades continue to become more popular for renovation and new construction projects, the fabric architecture industry continues to explore new ideas for solving today’s challenges.  The way we think about the 5th Facade (aka the rooftop) is just one example.

Environmental Challenges & 5th Facade Solutions

The 5th Facade_Tensile Membrane FacadesRooftops are playing a more substantial role in today’s architecture for a number of reasons, but energy efficiency and environmental impact certainly top the list.  With constant sun exposure, a building’s rooftop is arguably the most vulnerable yet most overlooked surface when it comes to the effects of solar heat gain.

Just like with traditional vertical applications, horizontal tensile membrane facades block the heat-inducing UV radiation that raises the temperature inside the building – but in an area of the envelope that’s rarely considered.  This naturally reduces the energy required to cool the building.

Outdoor Trends & 5th Facade Options

The 5th Facade_Tensile Membrane Facades_Advances in technology have freed us from our desks, and we’re increasingly placing a higher value on quality outdoor experiences.  However, we’re a culture of convenience, so architects and builders are under pressure to incorporate open-air spaces that are both accessible and comfortable.

Your project’s rooftop may hold the key for awe-inspiring outdoor space.  Wrapping the exterior “footprint” of your rooftop patio with a tensile membrane facade adds to the comfort of the space by blocking much of the wind while protecting visual transparency.  Sun protection can be achieved with horizontal tensile membrane facades, customized tensioned structures, commercial-grade cabanas, or retractable roof systems – depending on the project requirements.

Urban Living & 5th Facade Opportunities

The 5th Facade_Tensile Membrane FacadesUrban designers are faced with unique challenges that range from maximizing limited space to minimizing the environmental impact of high-occupancy buildings.  As we just discussed, rooftops are increasingly being converted to outdoor patios, but the 5th facade can offer so much more than open-air spaces.

Urban heat island effect is the increased warming that happens when an area has more concrete than natural landscapes.  According to the EPA, this is because “roof and pavement surface temperatures can be 50–90°F hotter than the air” while moist surfaces, like soil or grass, remain closer to the air temperature.  For architects and builders working on projects in the city, tensile membrane facades can help to reduce the building’s contribution to the heat island effect.  In fact, many architects have started to experiment with 5th facade fabric architecture to combine environmental benefits with urban living improvements by creating a rooftop greenhouse effect for urban rooftop farm initiatives.

Are Tensile Membrane Facades 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.