Fabric Architecture Specifier's Guide 2019 - 4

INTRODUCTION

Innovation through fabrics
Meeting criteria for stability, utility and beauty.
By Bruce N. Wright

I

n the movie, The Graduate, a well-meaning businessman tells Benjamin, a young man played
by actor Dustin Hoffman: "There's a great future in plastics." Ironically, by the time that movie
came out in 1967, the technology innovation wave had passed from chemicals and plastics
to electronics and computers. It may be presumptuous of me to predict that 2019 will see
innovation in architecture brought about by the use and integration of architectural fabrics.
However, take a look at the case studies in this edition of the Fabric Architecture Specifier's Guide
and you may agree with me that fabric provides unique possibilities for enlivening your designs.
The award-winning projects featured here range from the small scale-like the shade sails in a
Phoenix suburb, page 12-to the large scale-like the Quanzhou Shishi mega shade that covers
an entire street, page 16.
There is much to commend about the use of architectural fabrics as
expressed through these projects. Many make the point of citing their
Energy conservation
sustainable advantages, not the least being lighter weight structures that
minimize a building's environmental impact with lower carbon footprints than
and improved
comparable structures with more rigid and heavier materials. Tensile structure
sustainability in
specialist and architect Nicholas Goldsmith, FAIA, in his new book, Mass to
Membrane, argues persuasively for the importance of lighter, stronger, more
building design
flexible buildings: "Today we are at the cusp of developing even lighter building
and construction
technologies, including structural membranes composed of woven fabrics,
mesh materials, and foils.... These materials have lifespans that compete with
remain paramount
glass products and will only become more prevalent over the next generation."
issues today.
I have often made the sustainable argument for architectural fabrics as an
equal material choice among traditional materials such as wood, steel and
glass. Nonetheless, it's worth repeating here, as energy conservation and
improved sustainability in building design and construction remain paramount issues today-
more so as we document record polar ice melting and extreme weather events.
DURABLE AND BEAUTIFUL
The Roman architect Vitruvius outlined his simple criteria for architecture: firmitatis, utilitatis,
venustatis-that is, stability, utility, beauty. Today's architectural fabrics are highly durable as
well as useful. They are structurally strong with high-strength fibers such as polyester, glass fiber,
Nomex® or Kevlar®. These architectural fabrics have high strength-to-weight ratios, meaning they
can span great distances and maintain very low actual weights, which in turn reduce the mass
and costs of any structural system. With new molecular engineered coatings, these fabrics also
perform additional functions, such as the breakdown of pollution (TiO2), UV-resistant (PVC,
PVDF), fade-resistant colors (solution-dyed fibers) and longevity (with life expectancies from 10,
to 15, to 20 years or more depending on manufacturer).
The infinite form-making possibilities of these fabrics also lend themselves intuitively to
beautiful architecture, again as shown in this guide. Architectural fabric can dramatically reshape
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Fabric Architecture Specifier's Guide 2019

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Fabric Architecture Specifier's Guide 2019

Fabric Architecture Specifier's Guide 2019 - Cover1
Fabric Architecture Specifier's Guide 2019 - Cover2
Fabric Architecture Specifier's Guide 2019 - 1
Fabric Architecture Specifier's Guide 2019 - 2
Fabric Architecture Specifier's Guide 2019 - 3
Fabric Architecture Specifier's Guide 2019 - 4
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Fabric Architecture Specifier's Guide 2019 - Cover3
Fabric Architecture Specifier's Guide 2019 - Cover4
https://www.nxtbook.com/ifai/fabricarchitecture/fabric-architecture-specifiers-guide-2021
https://www.nxtbook.com/ifai/fabricarchitecture/FASG20
https://www.nxtbook.com/ifai/fabricarchitecture/FASG2019
https://www.nxtbook.com/ifai/fabricarchitecture/FASG18
https://www.nxtbook.com/ifai/fabricarchitecture/FASG15
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