In the construction and engineering industry, the functionality of structures and processes can at times overshadow design and aesthetics. When building with ETFE, we are able to combine project feasibility, architectural design and creativity. Compromising architectural creativity and vision is not a common phenomenon when building with ETFE, speaking frankly, it rarely ever happens because ETFE possesses so many striking and positive characteristics that make it the smart solution for all your building needs.
Some headlining projects that you may have seen featuring ETFE are the Singapore National Stadium, Sentosa Resort World, also located in Singapore, The Shed in New York, or The National Swimming Center in Beijing, China. These are all state-of-the-art projects; built with strong aesthetics, functionality and with sustainability in mind.
Cover image: Singapore National Stadium. © Gin Tay
Texlon® ETFE foil was first utilized in architecture in 1982 by the German company Vector Foiltec. Due to its unique abilities and properties, ETFE foil quickly became the new and most innovative material to build with, and over time grew into the industry must-have, as a practical solution for roofing and facades projects. The foil system comprises of one to five layers of foil and is suitable for every structure like steel, cable or wood. More than 35 years later, the Texlon® ETFE system is used in more than 100 countries and Vector Foiltec has become the world market leader.
ETFE/Ethylene-tetrafluoroethylene is an extremely lightweight component that can be used and manipulated in multiple ways to achieve individual outcomes in architectural and practical form. When building with ETFE, you can reduce the need for steel up to 7 times, in comparison to glass. ETFE’s lightweight nature, not only allows for reduced costs in structural components but also allows for uniqueness and individuality in design.
ETFE foil is highly adaptable and can be layered, colored and/or printed in order to achieve desired climatic conditions, shading and solar control or aesthetic goals.
Furthermore, ETFE is a sustainable factor when it comes to a reduced carbon footprint, enabling sustainable building practices and eco-friendly solutions. The use of Texlon® ETFE offers significant environmental benefits when compared to alternative transparent cladding systems, as it is an eco-friendly building material, the low levels of embodied energy and outstanding environmental benefits result in an ecologically benign building envelope. Choosing to build with Texlon® ETFE results in a reduction in requirements for artificial lighting, environmental control and the mass of supporting structures, while allowing for a faster installation compared to similar glazed systems.
Truly creative, bold, iconic!
Singapore National Stadium, also known as Singapore Sports Hub, is an excellent showcase of Vector Foiltec’s turnkey design and build approach. Spanning 312 m, it is the largest free-spanning dome in the world. The central opening section consists of two parts, each covering an area of almost 10,000 m2. As the roof moves around the surface of the dome, opening and closing the supporting structure of the moving sections is designed with flexible connections, allowing the structure to deflect and deform under the action of gravity.
Vector Foiltec’s early involvement enabled the development of a unique custom-built Texlon® ETFE cladding system. Connected to the moving structure on sliding bearings, this system is able to absorb and accommodate all differential movements that could occur in the structure below.
Tackle the climatic conditions
When designing the movable roof, Singapore’s tropical climate had to be taken into consideration, a new print pattern was designed. This not only helped reduce solar gain and provide shade, but also paved the way for optimal projection and illumination of the spectacular roof at night by using low wattage LED lighting to create one of the largest LED displays in the world.
Local climatic conditions not only dictate basic design loads, but also the performance of the building materials themselves, and the requirements for managing the differentials between the required internal conditions and the external environment.
The stadium owner benefits from having a Texlon® ETFE roof through lower operational costs, especially energy costs. Cooling, or heating, depending on local environment, is more efficiently achieved because Texlon® ETFE cladding can be adjusted to local climatic conditions. At the same time as being a physical protection from the elements, Texlon® ETFE can be engineered to provide natural light and heat in the proportions required by the building’s users.
The use of ETFE helped reduce the overall weight of the roof and subsequent steel tonnage required, and consequently had a huge impact on the overall carbon footprint and energy consumption of the stadium.
Singapore National Stadium was awarded with IOC/IAKS Award Gold in 2017.
What comes next, a moving building?
A moveable membrane structure hosting the who’s who of all cultural disciplines in the middle of New York City! The Shed is the latest addition to Hudson Yards, which is New York City’s newest office and residential district. The Shed combines theater, dance, art, poetry, film and music in one building, which can be extended using huge wheels.
Directly on the High Line in Manhattan’s new Hudson Yards business district, Diller Scofidio + Renfro in collaboration with Rockwell Group have created avant-garde architecture for art and pop culture with the Shed. This compact, eight-story structure has a silvery, shining skin made of Texlon® ETFE foil cushions on the main building, and includes two pillar-free gallery levels totaling to 2,300m2. There is a theatre that can be divided into several areas with up to 500 seats, as well as rehearsal and event spaces on the top floor. The architects’ idea was to design the Shed as a multifunctional and transformable building. The size of the venue can be nearly doubled by a movable steel roof construction covered in ETFE, allowing for large-scale events and performances of all kinds.
On both sides, the shell’s structure rests on one double and two single axles, whose double wheels, the height of a man, are mounted on rails. Within five minutes, the structure, including the 148 ETFE cushions, can be moved across the 1,700m2 forecourt to the east. This creates a hall space called McCourt, which is designed for up to 2,700 people. It can be opened to the main building and to the outside via vertical and horizontal sliding gates. If the structure is “parked” over the building, the space can be used by the public, or for events with the membrane skin as a media projection surface.
Exposed to high wind loads
The design specification of the retractable building shell suggested a façade solution that has both a low net weight and high tolerances with respect to vibrations resulting from movement. The architects, therefore, opted for a membrane skin based on the Texlon ® ETFE system by Vector Foiltec. 146 three-layer and two four-layer foil cushions cover a total area of 4,110m2 . The architects attached great importance to the homogeneous appearance of the shell. The cushions are therefore designed so that all foil seams run in a continuous line. Another design specification involved the façaderoof interface, where the triangular ETFE foil cushions must curve over the structure at a 90-degree angle. Vector Foiltec’s engineering team used both computational and real models to achieve these transitions. They built a mock-up at the company site in Bremen, which was used to test the various cut options of the foil layers and ultimately generate the optimal solution.
Vector Foiltec brings together all skills and capacities under one roof, from planning and development and production to project management, these were certainly key factors when it came to the commission for the Shed’s shell.
Vector Foiltec leads in the innovation and development of ETFE technology, assisting clients with their building envelopes for projects ranging from small atria enclosures and office skylights to large-scale landmark buildings, shopping malls and stadia.
About Vector Foiltec
With transparent roofs and facades made of Texlon® ETFE, the company Vector Foiltec has made a major contribution to setting new standards in recent architecture. As the world market leader in architectural foil construction and inventor of the Texlon® ETFE system, we have already completed over 1,500 international projects. Our system shapes stadia constructions, atria, shopping centers, zoos and garden parks, public buildings, swimming pools, schools and universities all over the world. Our technology of fluoropolymer foils can be processed in a variety of ways. Whether as a one-layer or multi-layer system, Texlon® ETFE stands for high-performance building envelopes with an outstanding eco-balance.
Vector Foiltec invented and pioneered the use of Texlon® ETFE over 35 years ago, and is the only company in the world whose core business is ETFE cladding. Our team of experts has been responsible for most major technical innovations in the field. Through extensive investment in Research & Development and a commitment to superior quality and performance, we continue to be the global market leader. With a total of 18 branches and 2 production sites, we are represented in countries such as Australia, USA, China and the United Kingdom, combining local know-ledge with global expertise.
Matthew Penrose is the Executive Vice President of Vector Foiltec, the inventor and world leader of ETFE Building Envelope Systems. Matthew has worked for Vector Foiltec Asia-Pacific for the past 10-years working on iconic ETFE projects using such as Resorts World Sentosa, Universal Studios Singapore, Singapore National Stadium Moving Roof, KL Pavilions, Ocean Park HK, The Jewel at Changi Airport not to mention iconic projects in Bangkok including Siam Discovery, Siam Center, Em Quartier and ETFE Canopies linking Emporium-BTS-Em Quartier etc. Majority of these projects are total solution including steelwork design, supply, fabrication, installation, authority submission and future maintenance. Matthew is a British Structural Engineer and over the past 24-years worked throughout Asia-Pacific has become a specialist in high performance building envelopes that combine lightweight, long span, architecture steelwork. Developers, Government Agencies and Contractors consult with Matthew during the earliest stages of project design to develop the concept design and performance specifications to ensure the most efficient, coordinated and aesthetically pleasing solutions for both steelwork and ETFE. Matthew is also involved with tendering and pricing of the total solution directly to Developers and Main-Contractor providing solution for detailing, interfacing, method of installation, scheduling etc. Please contact Matthew Penrose for any questions about Vector Foiltec, the Texlon® ETFE system or our projects.
Phone: +65 6225 0628