Membrane structures have forms generated by tensile equilibrium and can be considered a type of natural structure. For structures obeying the natural flow of forces the designing process is different. The ‘art of designing’ membrane structure is the art of controlling their boundary conditions and support geometries. Tensioned membrane structures offer an unlimited variety of forms.
Membrane structures are buildings where structure and form are intimately linked. Minimally shaped surfaces create interesting spaces and environments through the counterpoint of light and shade.
From an engineering point of view fabric structures are thin membranes of constant thickness, which by virtue of their surface shape and inherent large deflection behavior are able to support the imposed loads required by Building Codes. They are modestly prestressed to enhance their stiffness.