Durable architectural membranes allow for the creation of remarkable and unique buildings. Their lightness, flexibility and strength offer great freedom of form and the possibility of creating large clear span roofs, while reducing the quantity and weight of structural elements. They have the capacity to diffuse daylight in a uniform manner thereby creating spaces that are warm and inviting. When illuminated in a judicious way, the membranes act as a light source at night. Used on façades, they reduce solar radiation heat gains which in turn reduces air-conditioning costs and increase comfort.
The five types of membranes most used in textile architecture:
- Polyester woven coated with PVC (polyvinyl chloride)
- Glass fiber woven coated with PTFE (polytetrafluoroethylene)
- ETFE film (ethylene tetrafluoroethylene)
- Silicone coated fiberglass woven
- Expanded PTFE woven coated with PTFE (Tenara)
Because it is cost effective and offers superior performance, this flexible composite material made of a polyester woven with a PVC coating is the most commonly used membrane in tensile fabric architecture.
The durability of this material generally guarantees a life span of more than 20 years. Technical PVC/polyester textiles are constantly evolving and some high-performance products developed for severe climates can last up to 30 years.
This flexible material can be formed into an infinity of geometric shapes making it an ideal choice for the expression of a strong and distinctive architectural identity, be it a flat surface or a more complex fluid form. In addition, it comes in a wide variety of colours and has a printable surface.
The highly flexible nature of these membranes combined with their proven strength make them an ideal choice for permanent, removable and retractable structures.
Available in different levels of translucency (from opaque to 20%), this composite material is available in solid forms or as a mesh with various opening sizes suitable for shading and textile façade projects, as well as industrial applications.
The available coating options increase its performance:
- Fire resistance additives
- Stabilizer for UV protection
- Anti-mould coatings
- Coatings to facilitate maintenance
- PVDF for increased durability
PVC membranes by manufacturer Serge Ferrari are recyclable thanks to their Texyloop process.
This technical textile membrane composed of a glass fibre woven coated with PTFE (Teflon coating developed by DuPont) offers increased durability suitable for the fabrication of large scale tensioned textile roofs.
Non-flammable, this product has a lifespan of more than 30 years and is unaffected by UV rays. The Teflon coating is a chemically inert polymer and is resistant to environmental pollutants, mold and micro-organisms. Furthermore the coating has a non-stick characteristic that makes maintenance easy as dirt is washed away by the rain.
The product is available in solid and mesh form and has a level of translucency that varies between 4 and 22% depending on the thickness of the membrane, ideal for use in textile façades.
PTFE is used only in the design of permanent structures since this membrane is not flexible enough for installations that require dismantling and repeat handling. Beige in colour when installed, it turns permanently white when exposed to the sun.
This extremely versatile membrane made of an expanded PTFE woven coated with PTFE, has a degree of translucency between 20 and 40%. Extremely flexible, it is not susceptible to folding and has a long life span.
Its unique properties are well adapted for use in structures that are portable and retractable. It is resistant to tearing, water and UV rays. Chemically inert, it is stain-resistant and easy to clean.
ETFE (ethylene-tetrafluoroethylene copolymer) film, is a durable and transparent material used in façade and roof systems. Extremely lightweight, it reduces the size of structures and allows to cover large spans. Its light transmission of 95% is similar to that of glass but its weight is only 1% of that of glass.
Used as a single layer, it allows for the creation of light and transparent tensioned membrane structures. On roofs or façades, it is applied as a system of inflated cushions and metal profiles made up of anywhere from two to five layers depending on the targeted insulation. Besides having a lifespan of more than 35 years, ETFE is UV-resistant and has a low coefficient of friction so that rain is sufficient to wash away dirt from its surface. This copolymer is fully recyclable and can be tinted in a variety of colours or printed with opaque patterns for the desired level of light transmission.
This transparent silicone-coated glass fibre woven offers a durable and highly translucent solution with mechanical properties similar to those of fibreglass/PTFE, but with greater flexibility. Since glass and silicone are not affected by UV rays, its lifespan can extend to 25 years.
While this membrane cuts off UVB (shortwave) light that is harmful to people and animals, it allows the transmission of UVA (long-wave) light essential for photosynthesis. Its excellent fire resistant properties makes it ideal for indoor applications.