The semi-translucent nature of fabric structures is what makes them a favourite with engineers and architects looking for roofing systems to cover large areas, such as sports stadia or terminals. Fabric structures help in increasing the sustainability quotient of a building in more ways than one. The fabric allows for entry of natural light, while cutting down the transmission of heat. The high reflectivity of the membrane makes it an ideal alternative to glass as a roof glazing system.
Tension membrane structures are usually reinforced using either PVC /Polyester or PTFE based coatings. This makes the fabric structure perform well from the fire performance perspective too. For example, a tension membrane structure with PTFE coating is rated non combustible as per ASTM 136, making them completely safe. Additionally the inert nature of the fabric aids in self-cleaning, a characteristic which makes them perfectly suited for application over large areas. The dependency on artificial lighting is vastly reduced.
The unique properties of light reflectance and transmission also offer exciting possibilities for lighting after dark. Directing lights under the canopy to reflect off the underside is a great way to use uplighters, but more even lighting can be achieved under the fabric by shining lights down on the fabric from above.The thermal insulation achieved with a single layer of either PVC/Polyester or PTFE membrane with a typical weight of around 1200gm per sq metre and a U value of approximately 4.5 W/m2K, is more or less similar to that of glass. White is mostly the preferred colour when it comes to tension membrane structures. This is because with dark coloured membranes, the absorption of heat is very high. Dark coloured membranes can also re-radiate heat. White is therefore the preferred choice in the case of tension membrane fabrics.