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difference between tensile and tented roofs

Many people ask us what the difference is between tensile structures and tents.

Tenthouse Structures strives to create robust, long-lasting, tensile structures that keep people safe from the elements and include extraordinary luxury and comfort.

Our fully engineered, expertly designed, and professionally installed multi-purpose tensile roof structures fulfill many of the needs of permanent roof structures with the added conveniences of speed, versatility, and portability, values that regular roof structures cannot offer.

While tented roofs have some of these characteristics, they typically provide short-term protection from the elements, with fewer characteristics than traditional roof structures.

Introduction to Non-Tensile

Non-tensile tents are convenient, quickly assembled, easy to fabricate, and installation is usually inexpensive. As such, they do not have to abide by building regulations and are not engineered for long-term protection.

Even for so-called semi-permanent tents, general use is rarely rated, let alone warrantied to resist high winds, snow, storms, or heavy downpours. Thereby unable to provide a sense of long-term security to the investor against damage or danger to guests.

Non-Tensile Characteristics:

The manufacturing of standard tents is a simple 2-dimensional patterning process, which requires no specialized technical skill sets and makes manufacturing easy and scalable.

Traditional canvas tents attempt stability by having as many connection points as possible, with steeply sloping roofs, fixing the fabrics to heavy timber substructures, and so forth. However, all it takes is one mean wind, snow load, hail, storm, or a combination thereof, and the roof is damaged or even blown away: with consequential damage to the structures, fittings, and furnishings below and possible personal injury too.

Some more flexible fabrics, such as shade-nets canopies and stretch tents, can look great on initial installation as the elasticity creates dimensionality in the fabric. However, unless they are correctly analyzed in conjunction with their sub-structure to meet the conditions of the specific environments that they are installed in, they, too, will suffer as other tents do within a relatively short time (3-5 years), regardless of the claims of the fabricators. These canopies can only hold their shape if expertly patterned, made, and installed as part of a total system with their supporting sub-structure.

Introduction to Tensile Structures

Tensile fabric structures offer stability and strength like permanent roof structures, typically made from steel sheeting, tiles, or thatch.

Our tensile structures incorporate specially shaped, load-bearing tensioned membranes with lightweight engineered frames capable of spanning large distances and are easily transportable to remote sites and installed without needing heavy foundations.

A semi-permanent, solid roof and frame structure ideal for cladding an architectural envelope, creates an internal environment with comfort and performance metrics comparable to, and in some cases exceeding, permanent brick and concrete buildings.

tensile structures

Tensile Roof Characteristics:

Tensile membranes are designed as follows:

  • Certain loads are imposed upon the roof form based on the site (wind, snow, rain, topography), the regional building codes, and the position and shape of the membrane.

  • These loads are analyzed through an iterative computational process

  • The fabrics, ropes, cables, and substructures are specified to comply with the site analysis.

  • Fabrics undergo bi-axial tests to determine the compensations for patterning.

  • A 3-dimensional patterning process then ensues.

tensile roof characteristics

These membranes are then put together with high-frequency welding (in the case of non-coated products, high-performance stitching, and hot air seam sealing).

Unlike traditional tents, tensile membranes require expert fabric architecture and tensile engineering skills. The manufacturing is also highly skilled and requires specialist machinery and a skilled workforce.

All result in a harmonic structure designed to withstand the test of time, which we like to call #madeforthewild.

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