A tensile structure is a construction of elements carrying only tension and no compression or bending. The term tensile should not be confused with tensegrity, which is a structural form with both tension and compression elements. Tensile structures are the most common type of thin-shell structures. Most tensile structures are supported by some form of compression or bending elements, such as masts (as in The O2, formerly the Millennium Dome), compression rings or beams. A tensile membrane structure is most often used as a roof, as they can economically and attractively span large distances.
Types of structure with significant tension members
Cable-stayed beams or trusses
Straight tensioned cables
Bicycle wheel (can be used as a roof in a horizontal orientation)
3D cable trusses
Pneumatically stressed membranes
Famous Tensile Structures across the world…
The roof tensile structures by Frei Otto of the Olympiapark, Munich
The Olympiapark München (English: Olympic Park Munich) in Munich, Germany, is an Olympic Park which was constructed for the 1972 Summer Olympics. Located in the Oberwiesenfeld neighborhood of Munich, the Park continues to serve as a venue for cultural, social, and religious events such as events of worship. The Park is administered by Olympiapark München GmbH, a holding company fully owned by the state capital of Munich.
The THTR-300 cable-net dry cooling tower, hyperboloid structure
A cooling tower is a heat rejection device that rejects waste heat to the atmosphere through the cooling of a water stream to a lower temperature. Cooling towers may either use the evaporation of water to remove process heat and cool the working fluid to near the wet-bulb air temperature or, in the case of closed circuit dry cooling towers, rely solely on air to cool the working fluid to near the dry-bulb air temperature.
Common applications include cooling the circulating water used in oil refineries, petrochemical and other chemical plants, thermal power stations and HVAC systems for cooling buildings. The classification is based on the type of air induction into the tower: the main types of cooling towers are natural draft and induced draft cooling towers.
Georgia Dome in Atlanta
The Georgia Dome is a recently retired domed stadium in the southeastern United States, currently under demolition. Located in Atlanta, Georgia, between downtown to the east and Vine City to the west, it was owned and operated by the State of Georgia as part of the Georgia World Congress Center Authority. Its successor, Mercedes-Benz Stadium, was built adjacent to the south and opened in August 2017.
The Georgia Dome was the home stadium for the Atlanta Falcons of the National Football League (NFL) and the Georgia State University Panthers football team. It hosted 25 editions of the Peach Bowl (January 1993 through December 2006) and 23 SEC Championship Games (1994-2016). In addition, the Georgia Dome also hosted several soccer matches since 2009 with attendances over 50,000.At its debut in 1992, the Georgia Dome was the largest covered stadium in the world by capacity; it has since been surpassed by AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, and Millennium Stadium in Cardiff, Wales.
Prophet’s Holy Mosque in Medina
The two tiered mosque has a rectangular plan. The Ottoman prayer hall faces towards the south. It has a flat paved roof topped with 27 sliding domes on square bases. Holes pierced into the base of each dome illuminate the interior. The roof is also used for prayer during peak times, when the domes slide out on metal tracks to shade areas of the roof, creating light wells for the prayer hall. At these times, the courtyard of the Ottoman mosque is also shaded with umbrellas affixed to freestanding columns. The roof is accessed by stairs and escalators. The paved area around the mosque is also used for prayer, equipped with umbrella tents. Sliding Domes and retractable umbrella-like canopies are designed by the German architect Mahmoud Bodo Rasch and his firm SL Rasch GmbH and Buro Happold.
Khan Shatyr Entertainment Center, the highest tensile structure in the world
Khan Shatyr (“Royal Marquee”) is a giant transparent tent in Astana, the capital city of Kazakhstan. Built in a distinctively neofuturist style, the architectural project was unveiled by the President of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev on December 9, 2006.The 150m-high (500 ft) tent has a 200m elliptical base covering 140,000 square metres (14 ha; 35 acres). Underneath the tent, an area larger than 10 football stadiums, is an urban-scale internal park, shopping and entertainment venue with squares and cobbled streets, a boating river, shopping centre, minigolf and indoor beach resort. The fabric roof is constructed from ETFE-cushions provided by Vector Foiltec suspended on a network of cables strung from a central spire. The transparent material allows sunlight through which, in conjunction with the stack effect, air heating and cooling systems, is designed to maintain an internal temperature between 15-30 °C (59-86 °F) in the main space and 19-24 °C (66-75 °F) in the retail units, while outside the temperature varies between – 35 and 35 °C (-31 and 95 °F) across the year.
The Millennium Dome
Created as an exhibition space to mark the 2000 millennium, the dome has a floor plan diameter of 365m, one metre for each day of the year and the structure is supported by 12 masts, representing the months of the year. Time is an important reference in this structure as it is built at Greenwich.
Denver International Airport
Denver International Airport was completed in 1994 and is the Worlds third largest airport. The Teflon coated fibreglass roof of the airport is designed to resemble the peeks of the Rocky Mountains in winter, capped with snow. The tensile structure has stood the test of time and the structure hasn’t completely failed under the extreme weather conditions that it experiences.
The conversion of the old Victorian school was one of the most striking, ingenious and landmark buildings of the 1990s.
The tensile roof for Canada Place was completed in 2011 after a major, government invested replacement project. The fabric is designed to create 5 landmark sail designs out of PTFE coated fibreglass cloth covering 8,474sq/m.
Ashford Designer Outlet
The Ashford Designer Outlet roof features a kilometre long continuous tensile membrane of 35,000 sq./m of PVC coated polyester fabric. Built on a reclaimed brownfield site the smooth, crisp white peaks are a welcome contrast to the rural landscape.