Fabric structures are characterized by having a rather small mass relative to the applied load, which is determined through an optimization process. The types of structures that FSA focuses on include air-inflated, air-supported, cable net, frame-supported, geodesic dome, grid shell, tensegrity (cable-and-strut) and tensile (or tension) structures.

Air-Inflated Structure

A structure that uses air-pressurized membrane beams, arches, or other elements to enclose space. Occupants of such a structure do not occupy the pressurized area used to support the structure.

Air-Supported Structure

A building wherein the shape of the structure is attained by air pressure and occupants of the structure are within the elevated pressure area.

Cable Net Structure

Single-layered anticlastic surface made of two sets of closely spaced cables that are orthogonal (or nearly so) to one another. The net usually supports a fabric or pliable material.

Frame-Supported Fabric Structure

A structure that is comprised of a frame or frames that form a loadbearing structure without the aid of any fabric or pliable material. However, the membrane may contribute toward the stability of the structure.

Geodesic Dome

Spherical, singe- or double-layered shells made up of triangles.

Grid Shell Structure

A curvilinear surface (synclastic or anticlastic) composed of linear elements configured to form squares, triangles, and/or parallelograms. They may be single or double-layered and sometimes employ in-plane cables for stability and shear resistance.

Tensegrity Structures (cable and strut)

A planar or curvilinear structure composed of short discontinuous compression elements (struts) connected by tensile members (cables) to form a coherent configuration. Such structures are often referred to as “tensegrity” structures.

Tensile Structure

A structure that is characterized by a tensioning of the fabric or pliable material system (typically with wire or cable) to provide the critical structural support to the structure.

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