Creating temporary doubly curved tensile membrane structures without cutting patterns using high strain fabrics
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Tensile surface structures have been used in both permanent and temporary constructions. Using a light, flexible fabric as most important component, these structures have already displayed a great versatility in forms and uses as well as a high material performance and low self weight. Key in using a prestressed fabric is the double curved surface, being it either synclastic or anticlastic. To achieve these shapes using a flat fabric, the complex shapes are approximated by a finite number of flat panels, called cutting patterns. Generating and producing these cutting patterns however requires a lot of expertise, is often very time consuming and requires the need to connect the different panels together, such as welding or stitching. Finding a method that facilitates temporary double curved structures by eliminating the need for a thought out cutting pattern, would greatly simplify the design process and broaden the use of fabrics in architectural applications. During this preliminary research, we tested a very stretchable fabric material (Sioen F5637) to derive its material characteristics. Afterwards we designed a simple double curved structure, which starts from a single flat piece of this material, and modelled the transition from an untensioned, flat piece of fabric to a three dimensional pretensioned curved surface computationally to check the concept’s feasibility. Finally, the results from the computational model were verified with a small-scale prototype. This paper gives an overview of the structure's design process and discusses both the advantages and limitations of using high straining fabrics in real life architectural applications.
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