If someone suggested you look at a fabric structure to house your next project or event, you might think along the lines of tents, marquees and circus pavilions, but and actual engineered fabric building can be so much more than what you have come to think of for transportable and semi-permanent structures.
You may have already encountered this time of structure without really paying attention, as they have been used at festivals, music events, home shows and a range of events around the world. Generally, people don’t tend to notice the building they are standing in unless it is the Sistine Chapel, and this style of structure is much the same as any other large barn like building, unless you really weren’t expected to see a huge, possibly multi-roomed, structure appear almost overnight.
What Are Fabric Buildings?
While they are usually considered a temporary structure, engineered fabric buildings may have a life expectancy of up to 30 years depending on the type of fabric used. When referring to the ‘fabric’ what is meant is a 10-20 oz polyethylene fabric or 28-ounce PVC. This canvas is then stretched over a frame generally made of a galvanized steel which provides a tensioning that increases the strength of the building. Although you may also find other options including wood, using a galvanized steel makes the structure easier to transport, install, move, and generally will also make it more compliant to meeting building codes and fire compliance.
Because of the type of material used and the way it is tensioned these structures allow a significant amount of natural light to enter the structure, making them ideal for a range of uses. They have the added advantage of reducing operating costs as less lighting is going to be needed for daytime use in the majority of situations. Although, obviously, certain trade shows or fine detail work may require additional lighting to be truly effective.
What Can Fabric Buildings Be Used For?
Although this s a ‘how long is a piece of string’ type of question, there are certainly some more popular ways people are finding to use these types of facilities. However, one of the main advantages to them is that they are exceptionally easy to adjust and expand. This means that if you are using one as a semi-permanent warehouse storage facility and need to increase the size, or you are holding a music festival and get approval to increase the number of tickets that can be sold, then adjusting and expanding your venue is not difficult.
Obviously warehousing and storage are definitely options for this style of building, and work very well as a temporary space that can be used to protect equipment and stock while new premises are being constructed, or during relocations. You will even find them being used by the military and government contractors around the world.
Although they do tend to come in standard sizing which means that manufacturing and assembling is more cost efficient, they can be built to any size desired – from a small room sized tent right through to an airport hangar. They are also able to be used to provide privacy for high profile guests arriving and departing a location, or for products before a big launch.
The are finding use in farming for both housing animals, particularly in extreme weather conditions, and for storing a harvest temporarily before it is sold.
Because the structure is strengthened by the high tension caused by the fabric, they are able to be built very large yet not have any center pillars holding up the roof. This means that they are an ideal construction format for uses such as all-weather sports facilities and even equestrian covered arenas. In Ireland the governing sports body is using this method of construction to build a huge 1.848 hectare (18,480m2) multi-purpose sports training facility that will be able to be used by elite athletes and sports people all year round. https://www.sportireland.ie/Media/Latest_News/2017/July/Minister_Ross_Announces_Commencement_of_Phase_Two_of_Sport_Ireland_National_Indoor_Arena.html
Although the building cost reductions are of significant benefit, particularly if being used in poorer areas, because of the natural lighting that this construction allows the ongoing costs are also reduced as less power is required to provide visibility during the day. There is even potential for turning an old outdoor public swimming pool into an all-year round indoor swimming pool.
Events such as the Olympic Games and Commonwealth Games generally require a significant investment from the hosting city as well as the hosting country, with buildings often left without purpose after the event – this time of construction could well make that waste a thing of the past.
Building Code And Compliance
When you arrange to have a fabric building erected talk with your supplier about the code and compliance requirements as these vary greatly between countries, and even between counties.
As a general rule of thumb many seem to allow a temporary structure to be erected if it is going to be up for less than 6 months and doesn’t have a permanent foundation, however you may also have to meet certain wind load capabilities.
However, other regulations may limit the number of walls that the structure has, whether it has water connections, or only allow anything to be put up if it is an area that is zoned for the type of activity that will be undertaken – so you may get away with putting up a temporary football training facility on a sports field in winter, but using the same building for a trade show could cause a range of issues and code violations.