Membrane design by seele cover in Obing: Full-service lightweight construction competence, efficient loadbearing structures and innovative materials for economic and original building envelopes.

Membrane structures

membrane designs by seele: icons of lightweight construction

No other form of construction for the building envelope changes the face of architecture so completely as membranes. New materials and modern design methods in the hands of bold pioneers like seele result in unprecedented architectural diversity. Membrane construction by seele lends structures an unmistakable character.

The lightweight construction principle: low in weight, big in ecology

Lightweight structures by seele are based on light materials, efficient load-bearing structures and intelligent systems. The results are fascinating single-layer plate and shell structures and multi-layer modular forms of construction. Carrying loads, lighting, aesthetics, building physics and even controlling illumination and interior climate are the functions of mono- or multi-functional membrane concepts.
seele is able to create delicate, low-weight building skins that have a very high load-bearing capacity yet also achieve a highly aesthetic eloquence. The credibility of the designs is due to their good transparency, carefully distributed translucency or full shading, depending on needs. Light is therefore specifically used as a controllable design element.

  • seele exploits the huge economic and ecological potential of lightweight designs for clients right from the start at the concept design stage, when the aim is to achieve expert membrane designs and incorporate these harmoniously in the overall architectural concept. Lightweight plate and shell structures made from membranes often weigh only 1/100th of a heavyweight design and, in addition, allow light through. That means resources are spared throughout the entire life cycle, i.e. during production, transport, erection and, in the end, also during deconstruction and disposal.

Membranes in shipbuilding

Besides the design and construction of façades for buildings, seele is also involved in providing exceptional membrane structures for ships. The use of ETFE foil roofs in shipyards is a new development, which is why the technical solutions required pose great challenges. seele’s involvement in unique projects underpins its pioneering role in innovative membrane construction.

Vibrations from the ship’s engines, acceleration forces due to the motion of the ship, high wind loads some 50m above sea level, the marine climate with its corresponding salt concentrations plus the different climate zones place tough demands on materials and combinations thereof as well as the structural design and the detailing.

© Images: AIDA Cruises, 3D visuals: seele

  • AIDAprima: seele’s contribution to one the most modern and most environmentally friendly fleets worldwide is the design and construction of four ETFE foil roofs on two new ships belonging to the AIDA Cruises line.

    AIDAprima: seele’s contribution to one the most modern and most environmentally friendly fleets worldwide is the design and construction of four ETFE foil roofs on two new ships belonging to the AIDA Cruises line.

  • The total area of the ETFE roofs on both ships is about 4,000sqm.

    The total area of the ETFE roofs on both ships is about 4,000sqm.

  • Three-layer, transparent ETFE foil cushions span over the pool and leisure areas of the activity decks with their “4 Elements” centrepiece. Movable roof sections enable these areas to be opened to the sky.

    Three-layer, transparent ETFE foil cushions span over the pool and leisure areas of the activity decks with their “4 Elements” centrepiece. Movable roof sections enable these areas to be opened to the sky.

  • 3D visual of foil dome over “Beach Club”. Isometric view showing details of framework, GFRP (glass fibre-reinforced polymer) and ETFE foil cushion connection.

    3D visual of foil dome over “Beach Club”. Isometric view showing details of framework, GFRP (glass fibre-reinforced polymer) and ETFE foil cushion connection.

  • 3D visual showing section through steelwork supporting foil dome over “Beach Club”.

    3D visual showing section through steelwork supporting foil dome over “Beach Club”.

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Complex building envelopes: created with intelligence

Architects all around the world value seele as a specialist for bespoke membrane designs. When it comes to high energy-related demands on the building physics or the integration of energy applications such as photovoltaic or solar thermal systems, seele’s many years of experience and great skills prove to be the key to the development and realisation of convincing engineering ideas. The potential construction options include mechanically prestressed designs in which membranes are fitted in fixed frames. However, most of seele’s membrane designs are pneumatically prestressed structures, so-called air-inflated structures.

Pneumatically prestressed designs: tension and compression – an ideal combination

When a futuristic façade shapes the building itself, as with the Allianz Arena in Munich, then air-filled cushions are being used, manufactured from at least two layers of foil that are prestressed and stabilised by the positive or negative pressure of the enclosed volume of air. The extremely thin foils resist the tension, the enclosed volume of air the compression. There is no lighter, no more efficient way of building.

 

  • Crystal Hall, Baku, Azerbaijan: seele cover creates the expressive membrane façade from PVC-PES and mesh fabrics for the membrane design.

    Crystal Hall, Baku, Azerbaijan: seele created the expressive membrane façade from PVC-PES and mesh fabrics in 2012.

  • Migros Neydens, France: seele cover designed and built a roof over the climbing arena featuring a transparent membrane skin of air-filled ETFE-foil cushions.

    Migros Neydens, France: The roof over the climbing arena is a transparent membrane skin of air-filled ETFE-foil cushions; designed and built by seele in 2009.

  • Migros Neydens, France: The air-filled ETFE-foil cushions, made by seele cover, enclose the swimming pools while allowing views both in and out of the textile architecture.

    Migros Neydens, France: Like a giant single-cell organism, the air-filled ETFE-foil cushions enclose the swimming pools while allowing views both in and out.

  • Lyon Confluence, France: seele cover’s multi-functional membrane roof made from air-filled, transparent ETFE-foil cushions 30m above the ground forms a highlight of the membrane design.

    Lyon Confluence, France: The multi-functional membrane roof made from air-filled, transparent ETFE-foil cushions 30m above the ground forms the highlight in this part of the city. It protects the buildings below from the weather but allows daylight through for illumination.

  • Canary Wharf Crossrail Station, London: seele completed the over 300m long membrane roof with air-filled ETFE-foil cushions. Some bays are even fitted with printed foils.

    Canary Wharf Crossrail Station, London: Air-filled ETFE-foil cushions form the spectacular membrane roof more than 300m long which was completed by seele/Wiehag in 2014. Some bays are left open, others are fitted with printed, matt-finish or transparent foils depending on requirements.

  • “Old Spinning Mill”, Kolbermoor, Germany: This delicate membrane solution is created by a group of mechanically prestressed membranes made by seele cover from PTFE-glass fabric.

    “Old Spinning Mill”, Kolbermoor, Germany: This delicate membrane solution, which creates a setting for the theme of “spinning”, is created by a group of mechanically prestressed membranes made from PTFE-glass fabric. They roof over a café and rose garden and thus create an ideal location for events.

  • HDI Arena, Hanover: The roof structure by seele cover is an especially delicate structure above the innermost grandstand tiers with a transparent ring made out of thin ETFE-foil.

    HDI Arena, Hanover: This roof structure was awarded the German Structural Engineering Award in 2006. It is an especially delicate structure with a transparent ring above the innermost grandstand tiers. The ring consists of just one thin, cable-supported ETFE-foil that is mechanically prestressed and fixed to the structure along its edges.

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Skilful use of materials, engineering expertise, powerful ideas – that’s seele

Conventional building materials such as steel, stainless steel, aluminium or timber are just as much a part of the seele repertoire as high-strength engineering textiles (fabrics, mesh fabrics) and foils:

  • PVC-coated polyester fabric (PVC-PES)
  • PTFE-coated glass-fibre fabric (PTFE-glass)
  • Silicone-coated glass-fibre fabric (silicone-glass)
  • Coated or uncoated fluoropolymer fabric
  • ETFE-foils
  • As a company with ISO 9001 accreditation, the quality of all processes, procedures and products is crucial for seele. Lightweight membrane designs in the form of transparent, coloured or printed ETFE-foil cushions or membrane shade sails in double curvature are designed and fabricated by seele with the utmost quality and precision and, depending on requirements, with or without a load-bearing structure.

    It is precisely the fabrication of and connections between ETFE-foils that call for a wealth of experience when forming plate and shell structures in double curvature. Factors such as temperature and time influence the behaviour of the material. Form-finding, stress calculations, generating cutting patterns and fabricating surfaces in double curvature, also for oversize formats and spans, are all complex issues. All the relevant know-how is available at seele: high precision in the planning process, taking into account the structural and constructional influences and requirements specific to each material.

seele exploits the options for ETFE

Outstanding ETFE expertise is one of seele’s strengths. Welding machines optimised by seele engineers produce weld seams in excellent quality which are tested in seele’s own test centre. Those ETFE skills are brought together by seele in an engineering department staffed by highly qualified architects, engineers, technicians and designers. The proven, acknowledged safety concept for the use of ETFE-foils as structural components in architecture and construction, which was developed by seele, forms the basis for all calculations.

Cooperations and interdisciplinary research projects with universities and research bodies, e.g. the DFG, Technische Universität München, Anhalt University of Applied Sciences, the Fraunhofer institutes, enable seele to generate new impulses in research as well.
 

Movable structures and integrated media technology à la seele

When the sliding roof over the pool opens on the upper deck of the AIDAprima, it’s thanks to seele. Such retractable roofs are a speciality of this company with global operations. Designs with the high corrosion resistance necessary for e.g. cruise liners include, for example, energy chains with flexible air lines, drive systems with electric geared motors, belt drives, pneumatic seals, locking mechanisms, control systems with inductive sensors and remote operation. seele also ensures that lighting and media installations are perfectly integrated into the membrane skin.

  • Precision engineering: seele cover specifies especially high standards for processing ETFE-foils to achieve a membrane design with maximum performance.

    Precision engineering: seele specifies especially high standards for processing ETFE-foil to achieve a membrane design with maximum performance.

  • seele cover’s custom printed or pigmented ETFE-foils can provide a shading function and therefore become a creative part of the lighting design of the membrane constructions.

    Custom printing or pigmented ETFE-foil can provide a shading function. The foil becomes a creative part of the lighting design.

  • The often complicated structures of membrane constructions require in most cases an exact 3D planning by seele.

    The often complicated structures of membrane constructions require in most cases a complete 3D planning.

  • seele’s highly detailed 3D modelling guarantees the efficient planning, realisation and functional perfection of mechanically prestressed membrane façades.

    Highly detailed 3D modelling guarantees the efficient planning, realisation and functional perfection of mechanically prestressed membrane façades.

  • seele cover’s testing laboratory has been able to perform tests and studies on for example ETFE-foils and other membranes in its own plant.

    Since 2007 the seele testing laboratory has been able to perform tests and studies on seele’s own premises, e.g. for measuring static and dynamic friction coefficients for pairs of materials to DIN EN ISO 8295.

  • on Confluence, France: seele built a full-size mock-up for the receipt of various construction approvals and the testing of the ETFE-foil cushions under real conditions.

    Lyon Confluence, France: full-size test mock-up for type of construction approvals (ATEX and Avis Technique); testing ETFE-foil cushion for imperviousness with rainfall and simultaneous negative pressure.

  • Lyon Confluence, France: full-size mock-up by seele for receiving the construction approval (ATEX) and conducting a fall-through test with the ETFE-foil cushions.

    Lyon Confluence, France: full-size test mock-up for type of construction approval (ATEX); ETFE-foil cushion, fall-through test.

  • AIDAprima foil domes: seele created movable membrane structures for the upper decks of two AIDA cruise liners, including the mechanical and pneumatic systems.

    AIDAprima foil domes: seele created movable membrane structures for the upper decks of two AIDA cruise liners, including the mechanical, pneumatic, electrical and control systems.

  • BMW Formstudio 2, Munich: The movable lightweight membrane design of the atrium was created by seele with a especially slender and aesthetic membrane roof with air-filled ETFE-foil cushions.

    BMW Formstudio 2, Munich: The movable lightweight roof structure over the atrium was created by seele with especially slender, aesthetic sections and air-filled ETFE-foil cushions.

  • “Bird’s Nest” national stadium, Beijing: seele cover realised a total of 46,000sqm of membrane made from 880 individual ETFE-foil panels with areas of up to 216sqm on the membrane design.

    “Bird’s Nest” national stadium, Beijing: a total of 46,000sqm of membrane made from 880 individual foil panels with areas of up to 216sqm

  • Tolerances for the membrane design of the “Bird’s Nest” national stadium, Beijing were calculated after all ETFE-foil elements were fabricated on-site measurements of the steelwork by seele.

    The tolerances for the structural steelwork could not be calculated beforehand. Therefore, all ETFE-foil elements were fabricated after taking on-site measurements of the steelwork.

  • Allianz Arena, Munich: Installation of seele cover’s diamond-shaped ETFE-foil cushions with integrated LEDs covering 66,500sqm of the membrane design.

    Allianz Arena, Munich: The erection of a total of 2,784 diamond-shaped ETFE-foil cushions covering 66,500sqm. Integral LEDs can be used to illuminate the cushions in 16 million colours.

  • Olympic Stadium, London, UK: The crease-free membrane roof was the outcome of detailed form-finding, stress calculations and planning of cutting patterns by seele based on comprehensive material tests

    Olympic Stadium, London: A roof without folds or creases was the outcome of detailed form-finding, stress calculations and planning of the cutting patterns based on comprehensive tests of the material.

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