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IASS-SLTE Symposium 2014: Shells, Membranes and Spatial Structures: Footprints

IASS Symposium 2014

SESSION: General 7: Sustainable Design

Fascination and function of textile ribbon façades: the National Gymnastics Arena of Baku

< Table of Contents for General 7: Sustainable Design
  • Proceedings Name: IASS-SLTE Symposium 2014: Shells, Membranes and Spatial Structures: Footprints
  • ISSN: (Electronic Version) 2518-6582
  • Session: General 7: Sustainable Design
  • Title: Fascination and function of textile ribbon façades: the National Gymnastics Arena of Baku
  • Author(s): Hubertus POPPINGHAUS
  • Keywords: membrane structure, textile ribbons, solar radiation control, nocturnal lighting
The use of tensile surface structures as an additional building envelope has attained an ever growing acceptance amongst architects and engineers in recent years. They are used as visual, thermal or acoustic filters and create fluid spaces that mediate between the interior and exterior. Creative planners are thus able to use membranes for much more than temporary or permanent gigantic billboards, which is still the most common use of textile fabrics in modern architecture. The history of textile ribbons starts with the long tradition of textile canopies as independent elements that offer shade and rain protection. It is the combination of this old idea with the modern technology of textile envelopes that introduces new options to the field of architectural creation. Once the structural challenge has been solved, it becomes possible to combine shade and transparency in a fascinating new way. The building can be partly revealed and partly covered; sunrays can be deflected, reflected, diffused or filtered with the help of undulating textile ribbons; and last but not least, the building’s appearance at night can be highlighted through sophisticated led illumination systems either from within or from behind the ribbon’s structure. The National Gymnastics Arena in Baku is a key part of Azerbaijan´s bid for the 2024 Summer Olympic Games and Broadway Malyan, a prestigious international architectural firm, has been selected to design the competition level centre for rhythmic and artistic gymnastics. IF_Group, a well known German engineering company whose roots lie in the design and calculation of tensile surface structures, participated from the beginning in the elaboration of workshop drawings and the structural calculation of the inclined curtain wall of the new center. In a second phase, for the approved final design, IF_Group designed the supporting steel ladder of the textile ribbon structure and the bracketry fixed to the inclined concrete pillars behind the glazed façade. Its contribution to the new building also included the form-finding of the textile membrane, cutting pattern generation and the method statement of the complete structure. The first design of the Textile Ribbon Façade consisted of three horizontal ribbons in the colour of the Azerbaijan flag. As well as the functional task of controlling solar radiation gains, the idea was inspired by the ribbons used in rhythmic gymnastics exercises. However, the reduced translucency of coloured PVC coated polyester would have rendered the chosen coloured bands almost opaque. In order to achieve the desired combination of powerful nocturnal lighting together with diffused solar radiation, it was decided instead to use a plain white membrane Type II with a relatively high translucency of about 10%. The steel structure of the Textile Ribbon Façade had to be suspended from the roof top. For this purpose, inclined struts with their tie-down rods were located above the primary steel mullions of the glazed façade. Once the pre-fabricated ladder sections of the textile ribbons were in place the membranes could be fixed and tensioned from either side. The result is a continuous band of textile that completely covers the undulating steel structure. The process of fabrication of this complex three-dimensional form, made of circular hollow sections, was a considerable challenge and required IF_Group to send an engineer to the Turkish steel contractor in order to oversee the bending and welding process. Before transporting the elements to Baku, the final assembly process also had to be monitored. The building, including illumination, was finished in spring 2014.

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