Environmental planning and design of membrane structures architecture

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Publication year 2008
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Title Environmental planning and design of membrane structures architecture
Author Takehito Sano
Summary The beginnings of membrane structure architecture in Japan include a number of structures from Expo ’70 in Osaka: the Fuyo Group Pavilion designed by Yutaka Murata, the Federation of Electric Power Companies of Japan’s “Electrium” floating theater, and the U.S. Pavilion built by the Obayashi Corporation. The Festival Plaza was the largest event site at the Expo, and had a huge 330m wide by 110m deep roof. This roof was comprised of 10.8m by 10.8m modular air-inflated membranes, and the large roof was created by arraying these air-inflated membranes in two dimensions. The air-inflated membranes were comprised of 8 upper layers and 5 lower layers of transparent film. One of the upper layers was a cobalt blue transparent film, to make the blue sky on fair days even more vivid. Such was the beginning of membrane structures architecture in Japan. Eventually the technology of the U.S. Pavilion in Japan blossomed into facilities like the Tokyo Dome, and came into wide use in permanent facilities, including large-scale gymnasiums, baseball stadiums and event sites. Structures such as the Fuyo Group Pavilion and the “Electrium” floating theater (Electric Power Pavilion) were used as temporary exhibition facilities at various events throughout the country. The author has participated in environmental planning and environmental design of air supported membrane structures for the “Orchid Expo,” “Seikan Expo,” “Nara Silk Road Expo,” and many other events. Air domes for temporary buildings are beautiful and short-lived, like summer fireworks displays, but people remember them for a long time with a sense of nostalgia. This paper provides a comprehensive survey of many years of research on technologies for membrane structures architecture used as temporary domes. These technologies include accident prevention and safety, pressurization and heating/cooling equipment, and smoke filling in case of fire. The paper gives a topic by topic explanation of the technological innovations and discoveries, and the technologies mastered at the practical level, in each era. The explanation focuses on: (1) the Exhibition Hall Air Dome for the Twelfth World Orchid Conference, whose theme was vertical temperature stratification inside the dome (with air supply ducts), (2) the Theme Pavilion for the Seikan Tunnel Opening Commemorative Expo, whose theme was blowing-up an air dome, and (3) the Corporate Pavilion at the Nara Silk Road Expo whose theme was vertical temperature distribution inside a dome (without air supply ducts). This research clarified the following points regarding air supported membrane structures.