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Everything You Need to Know About Tensile Structures

Tensile membrane structures are commonly used to describe roof construction that employs a membrane held in place by steel cables. It is a structure that carries only tension, with no compression or bending. Most tensile structures are supported by compression or bending elements. Tensile structures are the most common type of thin-shell structure.

Tensile membrane structures are commonly used as roofs because they can span large distances economically and attractively. Tensile membrane structures can also be used to construct entire buildings, with common applications including airports, sports facilities, warehousing, storage structures and exhibition venues, etc.

Types of Tensile Structures

Linear Tensile Structures:

All of the members of a linear tensile structure are subject to linear tensile forces. Although the compression members support these linear components, the tensile members bear the most loads. Cable-suspended bridges are a typical illustration of this type of building. The major pillars serve as compression members, while the cables in tension are responsible for carrying the entire load.

Three-dimensional Tensile Structures:

Composed of largely in tension parts, three-dimensional tensile constructions transfer compression to a central mast and downward into the ground. The sports arenas that serve as the roofs for these structures are where three-dimensional strain is most frequently observed.

Surface-Stressed Tensile Structures:

Surface-stressed tensile structures are the tension-bearing surface members. Fabric tensile structures, in which vertical pillars support a specially designed fabric that is in tension, are excellent examples of surface-stressed tensile structures.

Shapes of Tensile Structures

The tensile constructions are made of the following four fundamental shapes:

Conical Tension Structure:

A conical tension structure is recognised by its tent-like shape and is highly effective for covering huge areas. One or more masts may be present in conical designs. The lower perimeter support columns and a ring at the pinnacle act as tensioners for membranes in both design variants. Cones work particularly well in locations where strict laws about heavy rain or snowfall must be followed.

Anticlastic or Hypar Structure:

Due to their attractive appearance, tensioned membrane structures called hypars (hyperbolic paraboloid forms) are among the most popular. They excel in shape retention and water runoff. The stability of these anticlastic formations depends on two opposing curvatures. This kind of building is perfect for providing shade over dining areas or busy walkways.

Structure with Parallel Arches or Barrel Vaults:

These symmetrical curving parallel arch patterns create a highly useful tensioned membrane canopy that may span large spaces, like a sports arena or smaller spaces, like an entrance. Due to the repeating nature of the design and material efficiency, a barrel vault system may be a very economical approach to incorporate tensile membranes on a project, depending on the spans.

Membrane Structure and Cable Net:

3D cable net or cable grid structures are an efficient lightweight tensile architecture solution for long-span tensile membrane roofing applications commonly found in stadiums or large spaces.

Benefits of using Tensile Structures

Distinctive style adaptability:

Sophisticated material, lightweight, and fascinating three-dimensional alternatives give engineers, architects, and designers a limitless amount of design versatility and make it possible to build any structure on demand and give a room a rich, unique aura.

Engineers can create a tensile fabric framework, though, if you want to make the area appear inventive and beautiful. It offers a special selection of dynamic alternatives and makes a special effect. Engineers can thus design distinctive and iconic structures due to their adaptable qualities.

Broader area coverage:

Tensile structures are the finest option if you want to select the best roofing material for large spaces. Tensile structures are used to cover huge areas with minimum support, allowing people to sit comfortably in covered public spaces such as playgrounds, airports, walkways and other locations.

Solar properties and Translucency:

Because of the prolonged heat during the hot summer days, people need a roof on top of public places. A multi-layer tensile structure utilised outside can aid to keep the environment cooler and reduce heat.

Tensile fabric building constructions offer a lot of daytime light underneath, making it a welcoming and comfortable area, and at night can light up with incorporated artificial lights due to the translucency associated with nearly all of the fabric possibilities.


Tensile membrane constructions have the amazing advantage of requiring less support to cover longer distances than structures made of conventional materials. A strong roof structure with a valuable column-free area is produced via tensile membrane constructions. Tensile membrane structures are a wise choice to take into account when it comes to covering vast playing fields, swimming pools, or amphitheatres.

Low Maintenance:

Tensile membrane constructions have proven to be minimal maintenance projects for clients, whether it’s the application of a PTFE coating on woven fibreglass membranes or a protective acrylic or PVDF top coat on PVC membranes.

Tensile materials should ideally be maintained yearly to ensure their long-term use. Compared to a built building or structure, they require minimal maintenance.


The lightweight nature of membranes makes them an economical choice for long-span applications when trying to cover huge quantities of space because they may be used in spaces without columns. Tensile membrane uses less structural steel supports than conventional construction materials, which ultimately lowers project costs for building owners.

Faster Installation:

Tension membrane structure installation is frequently quicker and more affordable than standard building projects because of the use of correct construction procedures by design-build speciality contractors for tensile architecture. Tensile fabric building structures are a good replacement for brick-and-mortar buildings due to their quick installation time.


Tensile structures are renowned for being    extremely robust, and if properly maintained, the architecture lasts for a longer period of time. These materials are created in a way that allows them to tolerate extreme temperatures between -40°C and +70°C. It is known that these structures have a 25-year minimum lifespan.


Long-span applications use tensile structures because they have high cost-effectiveness. Due to the lightweight nature of the membrane, you can install the rooftop and potentially obtain a space without columns. The rooftop of the tensile construction is also known to require less steel support than the material needed for conventional buildings, which is another benefit. The project expenses are reduced as a result, making this a known cost-effective choice.

 Tensile structures are not susceptible to compression or bending and thus ideal for use as a roof because they can easily cover a large area.

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