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Create a Gathering Space: How a Tensile Roof Structure Adds to Public Park Designs

By August 9, 2018 No Comments

Designing public spaces poses unique challenges and exciting opportunities for landscape architects.  Whether you’re tasked with site improvements for an existing park or a design for a new space, all public park projects require a blend of functionality, aesthetics, and value for the community.  A tensile roof structure (aka a tension fabric structure) pairs perfectly with other amenities to make the space more inviting and comfortable, while supporting your greater project goals.

Creating a Place, Not Just a Design

How a Tensile Roof Structure Adds to Public Park DesignsPublic park projects are centered around creating a place, not just a design.  In other words, the goal is to develop a space that will be used by the community and not just admired from afar.  Therefore, the design phase begins with understanding the needs and expectations of those who will be interacting with the space.  From shady areas for relaxing to picnic areas for gathering to playgrounds for playing, the community’s requirements come first when conceiving plans.

It can be enlightening to begin the process by observing how the community uses (or fails to use) other local parks.  For example, underused picnic areas may be a result of too little shade as opposed to lack of demand.  In this case, a simple addition of a tensile roof structure could address that missed opportunity in a cost-effective way for your project.

Maximizing Park Amenities Through Triangulation

How a Tensile Roof Structure Adds to Public Park DesignsDepending on the space and design, parks may have a wide range of amenities, such as picnic benches, swing sets, water features, coffee carts, event spaces, etc.  It can be tempting to spread these amenities throughout the space in an effort to utilize more of the space but separating them all together can ultimately result in unused amenities due to lack of convenience.  Many believe that grouping the amenities can help you maximize their use.

William “Holly” Whyte, author of The Social Life of Small Urban Spaces, describes the concept of triangulation as “the process by which some external stimulus provides a linkage between people and prompts strangers to talk to other strangers as if they knew each other.”

When applied to the design of parks, triangulation theorizes that visitors will be more likely to expand their use of the park if amenities are grouped to create a convenient gathering place.  For example, if a playground, shaded seating area, and coffee cart are located in separate areas of the property, the amenities will exist in isolation from each other, leaving visitors less likely to value the property’s offerings as a whole.  By designing the amenities in pairs or groups, the property provides convenience and builds a community atmosphere.

When the space calls for some distance between amenities, tensile roof structures and other tensioned fabric structure designs can help to attract visitors’ attentions from afar.

Designing for Health and Comfort

How a Tensile Roof Structure Adds to Public Park DesignsEnjoying the sun is an important part of the outdoor experience, but it’s also essential to provide shady oases if you’re hoping visitors will remain on the property for longer stretches of time.  A tensile roof structure blends form and function by addressing visitors’ needs with beautifully artistic designs.  As permanent or semi-permanent structures, they can stretch across playgrounds or sports fields, shade seating areas, and provide all-weather protection over outdoor event stages.

For more information on how tensile roof structures can benefit your public park projects, read our post: Addressing Landscape Architecture Trends with Tension Fabric Structures.

Is a Tensile Roof Structure Right for Your Next Public Park Project?

In the Tension Structures Division of Eide Industries, we specialize in design, engineering, manufacturing, and installation of structurally complex and creatively challenging commercial, government, and prototype design projects.  We provide expertise and support for architects, landscape designers, general contractors, and property owners to develop their custom tensile membrane project ideas and construct iconic structures.

Explore the options for your next project.  Contact one of our experts today by calling 800-422-6827.