Special Structures Lab - Membrane Analysis

Tension membrane structures are typically constructions in which the main roofing element is totally in tension, with only the supporting members in compression. Tension structures technically have all members in tension, structures with some elements in compression and some in tension are called tensegrity structures.

Specialist software is used for the simulation of tension membrane structures. The software uses specialist techniques to simulate the non linear behaviour of structural fabrics. In addition, the shape of the fabric roof is used to resist external forces such as wind and snow by adding 3 dimensionality to the form. Generally, the aim is to utilise minimum surface procedures to provide total equlisation of tension in the roof, as originally concieved by the inspirational German architect FREI OTTO. Specialist non linear Finite Element Analysis software is used to accomodate all of those criteria.

The specialist software used for this work is only available from a few engineering firms in the world. The expert knowledge to use the software and the ability to integrate the membrane with other structureal elements is why Special Structures Lab is used by many other engineers around the world for their expertise.

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