Fabric structures offer many advantages, including lower construction costs, adaptability, construction speed and more sustainable designs. All these benefits are very small if the structure itself is not safe and stable. Fortunately, with proper planning, design and maintenance, the fabric structure will be as safe as the traditional building - as long as it goes beyond the initial and constant cost. We have built a list of key considerations when we build the fabric structure in order to prevent structural defects that endanger life and cause costly material damage. Many things can cause structural damage, so this is not an exhaustive list, but here are some of the best practices in designing, building and maintaining the structure.
BUILD TO CODE
It may seem obvious, but many structures fail because they have never been sufficiently coded. An example of this was the Dallas Cowboys Training Center, a membrane structure that failed in the storm in 2009, causing a dozen injuries and millions of dollars of damage. Investigations have shown that the construction was inadequately conceived and the engineers incorrectly calculated the wind load and the unskilled designer, who upgraded the structure a year before the collapse. As a result, despite the wind load, it has failed despite being under industrial standards.
Local codes are not only statutory criteria, they are also the great criteria for minimum requirements for snow, wind and other forces that the building is likely to face. Long-term endurance and security should be followed by local codes for each project.
Fabric buildings are dynamic and can successfully use a number of different foundations, but this part of construction should not be overlooked. If your fabric structure will be up for months, years or even decades, it will require a proper foundation for the soil and terrain. Follow the manufacturer’s specifications. The foundation is key because it supports the rest of the building—skimping here compromises the whole structure.
DON’T TAKE SHORTCUTS
Models that seem too good to be true about the cost and ease of installation are likely. If the structure is likely to be confronted with challenging weather conditions, it could save some money, which in case of failure could prove to be very expensive. Use reputable suppliers with proven records of creating effective structures for similar applications and regions.
REMEMBER THE FABRIC
Too often the fabric is the last look at the structure of the fabric. People assumed that the various options all worked the same way in not thinking about the various options. Some factors that they need:
Like any other building, an architectural fabric structure requires some maintenance and periodic inspections. While easy to maintain and structurally sound, fabric structures may require repairs, cleaning or other upgrades. Regularly inspect and service your structure to ensure it provides years of reliable and safe service.
If you'd like to learn more about building and maintaining safe and effective fabric structures, contact DUOL.