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Open Access Novel Structural Skins: Improving sustainability and efficiency through new structural textile materials and designs – COST Action

Textile architecture is increasingly present in the urban environment. Whereas membrane structures were, decades ago, mainly built as highly curved roofs because they are able to economically and attractively span large distances (such as sports facilities), an evolution towards a much wider scope of applications is noticeable today. Textile architecture in the built environment can nowadays be found in a variety of structural skins, ranging from private housing to public buildings and spaces. This may be in the form of small scale canopies (to provide solar shading or protection against rain), in performance enhancing fa├žades (such as dynamic solar shading, foils replacing glass elements and acting as substrates for solar energy harnessing systems), roof constructions (to protect archaeological sites, market places, bus stations ) and light shell structures.

Tensioned membrane constructions have unique properties that other, more conventional, building elements often do not possess simultaneously, such as low self-weight, high flexibility, translucency and the capability of forming architecturally expressive shapes that enhance the urban environment. In addition, membrane structures are known to be ‘optimal’ since they are only loaded in tension and adapt their shape to the flow of forces. Hence, they use a minimal amount of material to cover a space.

This emerging presence of textile architecture in the built environment can be assigned to advances in design and analysis methods, the development of innovative materials, coatings, and fabrication methods, and new applications, as a response to modern needs and global challenges.

Keywords: Life cycle analysis; Lightweight building skins; Membrane structures; Multi-functional building skins; Polymeric waste; Standardisation; Sustainability; Urban built environment

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: June 1, 2017

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