Tensile structures

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All About Tensile Structures

What is the first thought that comes to one’s mind when they see the Millennial Dome of London? The beautiful architectural structure is not just awed worthy in its design but also its engineering mechanism. The dome which is also known as London O2 was how Tensile Structures first became an important building component. In a generic explanation, these are the tension bearing structures that are not prone to bending or compression forces. The best feature of tensile structures is that these can be used over a very large span of area.

Tensile structures are being included and incorporated into various designs and structural plans since early 2000. Though it is a very new concept, these structures have become an integral part of any design plan that requires visual satisfaction and monetary semblance. A tensile structure provides a very unique visual appeal to any architectural design where it is incorporated. Combining them with other structural materials provides a beautiful result that in turn also reduces the overall expense.

So how is a Tensile Structure incorporated in any design plan? Russian Engineer Vladimir Sukhov introduced tensile structures while designing the Nizhny Novgorod fair in 1896. An area of 27,000 square meters was provided with shade using only 8 tensile bars and a thin shell structure roofing. The design was not just attractive to look at, but it also served the purpose of providing an enclosed space for the fair. Incorporating the same principle architects re-introduced Tensile Structures once again at the beginning of 2nd millennial as a part of gigantic Dome designs.

Today Tensile structures are an integral part of megastructures like Suspension bridges, Cable Draping, Tensegrity tensile Structures like Hanging bridges and suspension cars, Grid shells, Fabric Domes, etc. Small scale usage includes creation of Bicycle wheels, 3D cable trusses, etc. The malleability factor, a larger working circumference and the ease of prefabricating the desired shapes and styles make tensile structures an extremely suitable design material. Interesting designs and shapes like Anticlastic, Parallel Arching, Membrane Messing Structure, Conical patterns are only possible when tensile structures are integrated into the plan.

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