What were once run-down and unloved parts of inner cities across the UK are being transformed using cutting-edge architectural design and innovative materials. Urban regeneration is a trend that looks set to continue as planners seek to blend historical architecture with state-of-the-art canopies and other shade structures.
Protection from the elements
Schools have been using tensile fabric in the form of shade sails for some time to protect children from the sun. This type of exterior canopy may be what most people associate with fabric structures; however, they are also used in countless other ways.
At the entrance to a building, such structures can provide those entering with both sun and rain protection and add to the overall look; inside, they can protect from the sun’s glare when used in an atrium setting. In an urban setting, they allow people to gather at any time of year and give an open-air feel.
The Royal Institute of British Architects celebrates this use of architectural experimentation, which adds to the contemporary life of the city through new installations and the redesign of public spaces.
21st century design
With a modern look and limited elements, a tensile fabric structure offers a great alternative to more conventional methods of building. They can be used in both interior and exterior designs and complement a building’s architecture by providing interesting and unusual sculptural shapes. The eye is immediately drawn upwards to these modern designs, making a seemingly run-of-the-mill spot into an architectural gem and somewhere everyone wants to hang out.
Developers understand the benefits of these structures, which are increasingly being seen outside sporting arenas, hospitals and shopping centres and in outdoor spaces and bars. According to the UK government, urban regeneration development comprises industrial, commercial, residential, retail, leisure and mixed use projects.
A tensile fabric structure can be used in place of surface panelling or a stretch ceiling and can often be installed more quickly. Urban planners can view tensile fabric structures through fabricarchitecture and other providers of innovative designs and ideas.
Fabric structures have a number of qualities that make their use in urban design popular. They seem to float in the air and to turn into a piece of sculpture when combined with either natural or artificial light.