The thermal response of textile membrane constructions
Because of their lightweight and thinness, the thermal behaviour of architectural
textile membranes exhibits an extreme responsiveness to variations in external
conditions. For this reason, it is argued that the reliable prediction of the thermal
environment experienced in a space enclosed by a tensile membrane skin construction
would require a detailed modelling of the dynamic thermal behaviour of
the textile construction itself.
In order to assess the effect that different membrane constructions might have
on thermal conditions inside the enclosed space, the thermal behaviour of two
full-scale tensile enclosures, with different ventilation strategies and textile skin
constructions, is monitored during an extensive period. The monitored data are
compared with the environmental control strategy suggested at their design
In addition to the full-scale monitoring programme, the thermal response of a
double-layer membrane construction is monitored on a test rig under real
The observed thermal behaviour of the tensile membrane constructions serves
as a basis for the design of a numerical model capable of simulating the thermal
response of single and double-layer membrane skin constructions and of predicting
their surface temperatures and the solar radiation directed into the space
they enclose. The approach is based on a detailed modelling of the radiative and
convective heat transfer processes affecting the membrane surfaces.
The accuracy of this model is validated against the large set of environmental
data monitored in full-scale enclosures and on the test rig.
The proposed model is intended to be externally coupled with a flow analysis
package in order to predict the thermal environment experienced inside tensile