Current state of knowledge
Evolutions and innovations have occurred over the last decades, but in a fragmented and diffuse way. Some research teams have concentrated on the material behaviour or created and tested new materials; other experts developed advanced software tools in their engineering offices or studied advanced simulations of building performance. The consequences of this fragmentation are a lack of uniformity in the design and engineering of tensioned membrane constructions and structural skins, which has then stifled innovation in the development of novel and sustainable building enclosures. To date simple textile structures that have not been fully adapted to the distribution of forces are used. Testing methods are not standardised and realistic simulation tools required to develop and construct adaptive intelligent textile structures or lightweight stiff panels are missing.
Advanced structural skins follow different design principles from those typically used in standard steel, concrete, aluminium or glass structures. Structural verification for snow load, wind pressure, temperature effects etc. on non-conventional geometries is mandatory. Much effort is being expended to improve knowledge of the design and analysis methods, to ensure safe and optimal structures.
Novel structural skins are currently being developed to be applied as durable and energy-efficient building components. Concepts for enhanced skins (to collect rain-water, clean polluted air, harness energy, guide air etc.) as well as design methods for skins with multi-functional properties still have to be developed in order to satisfy the increasing market demands while ensuring safety, comfort and operational requirements. Here, a multidisciplinary approach is essential.
Facilitated by the COST Action, networking between partners working on complementary projects, and the development of new products and applications will be stimulated. Additionally, innovative methodologies, models and technologies will become accessible for SMEs that are interested in improving their products or services. Thereby, they will increase their market value, safeguard their existence within Europe and increase their competitiveness in world markets.