Fabric Structure’s Special “K”

The FabricArchitect looks today at the letter “K”.

K could easily be Kevlar or kips per foot, but I always think of my daughter Kay C. Armijos (#13) first who was born in Kansas City when I was doing fabric structures in the MidWest in 2000. Another story for another day.

Todays words are:

KD Kanopy

Keder is a hard rubber rope that is usually found at the edge of the membrane where it is going to be clamped or in an extrusion for tents, tarps, signage and tension fabric structures. It comes in a number of diameters and it is important to have at the edge of the material in order to keep the membrane from slipping out of its component. Kedar is rarely mentioned in a design meeting but it will appear in the details and on site. Check out American Keder.


Lately, there is a desire for designers and clients to want their fabric structures to “move”. They want to be able to open and close it at the push of a button or be adaptable for a variety of environmental conditions. BC Place in Vancouver will have a retractable portion to its roof and many new stadiums are bringing “Kinetic Architecture” to the design. Uni-Systems out of Minneapolis,  Hardesty and Hanover  our of New York and Clauss Markisen out of Europe are just a few of the new names in the fabric structure business who are introducing mechanized devices to move lightweight structure.

Also, check out folks like inventor Chuck Hoberman and Engineer Craig Schwitter of Buro Happold who are collaborating under the Adaptable Building Initiative to explore new and exicting retractable structures.

What could be more adaptable than a membrane structures?

From the nomads to the next dome stadiums, Kinetic Architecture is here to stay.

KD Kanopy
When I was getting into this field in the mid to late 80’s there was a number of “pop up” fabric structures coming to market. Camping tents and inflatables were coming of age and there was a peculiar new item being sold. Fleamarkets and outdoor food markets were growing in popularity and owners were making temporary structures with conduit tubing, plumbing fixtures and speedrail systems.

At the same time, “scissor bar” framing systems that were attached to fabric where being introduced. One that caught my eye was KD Kanopy where aerospace technology meets flea market tent. There are plenty of companies in this market now.

Funny how these structures are now part of our popular culture.

They are seen at tailgate parties, picnics, soccer games, races and special events. I use to call them big umbrellas with four legs.

These are not your grandfather’s pop up tents anymore.

Try one and buy one on for size.

Next week, We shall talk about “L”.


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