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Large scale umbrellas – membrane architecture

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Taiyo Kogyo Corporation, a manufacturer of large scale membrane structures, has performed the membrane fabrication work of large scale umbrellas (25.5m on each side) for pilgrims visiting the Prophet’s Holy Mosque located in Al-Madinah (Kingdom of Saudi Arabia). It is known for being one of the two holy mosques of Islam, and contributed to the success of a glorious national project which was officially completed in August 2011.

These large scale umbrellas were planned by the Saudi Arabia government to provide sunshades for the Islamic pilgrims who visit the Holy Mosque of Madinah. “Saudi Binladin Group” (President and General Manager:Eng. Bakr Binladen Project Director :Eng. Talaat Mously) , the largest general constructor in the Middle East with considerable experience, was the prime contractor while the engineering, manufacturing, and on-site installation of the umbrella system were performed by Liebherr Intertrading AG (Germany), which is renowned worldwide for its cranes and construction machinery.

The large-scale umbrellas, ranging 25.5m on each side consisting mainly of equal squares, are bell-shaped suspension-tensioned membranes, which open and close automatically like folding umbrellas. The total membrane area is 162,000 square meters, and the excellent fabricating skills are required for the complex design.

To meet those needs, Taiyo Kogyo Corporation after receiving orders from Liebherr Intertrading AG to fabricate membranes, has built an increasingly automated exclusive production line in the Hirakata factory, which took an active part during the fabrication process of the Osaka Expo (EXPO 70), and the remarkable skills of the workers have been passed on to the younger generations. Taiyo began the production in April 2008 and completed the delivery of the 250th umbrella in May 2010.

The membrane material is made from 100% PTFE (Polytetrafluoroethylene) weaving material, which was developed and produced specifically for this project, ensuring the fire resistance for the safety of the pilgrims, long-term durability against the harsh Middle East weather conditions, and flexibility for everyday use. In addition, as the facility itself is a core religious site of the Islamic faith around the world, the splendorous ornamentation far exceeds the norms of any architectural concept in Japan, such as the elaborate designs coloring the membrane and the metal attachments using lavishly gilded gold.

The large-scale umbrellas were successfully completed in August 2011, welcoming pilgrims from all over the world in a soft atmosphere. This is the first time for a Japanese company to receive the honor of manufacturing products for the Second Holiest site in the Islamic world. This is because our abundant past achievements all over the world as well as the Japanese distinct “high-quality” product creation were highly valued.
Taiyo Kogyo Corporation will continue to contribute people’s life of affluence by participating in projects in various parts of the world and providing comfortable high-quality spaces.

Characteristics of membrane fabric The membrane material is 100% PTFE (polyterafluoroethylene plastic) weaving material (weight: 900g/m², thickness: 0.6mm) developed especially for this project. PTFE (polyterafluoroethylene plastic) has nonflammable characteristics, being used on items such as frying pans. The membrane material has high durability and is chemically inactive. This enables the membrane to sustain under the harsh Middle East weather conditions for a long term.

The material is not coated, this is highly flexible, and enables everyday opening and closing.

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