Tensile Membrance Structure

The tensile fabric roof over Ramli Mall’s food-court ... impressive.

The tensile fabric roof over Ramli Mall’s food-court ... impressive.

Gulf Shade scores with Ramli Mall

A nearly 3,000-sq-m tensile roof structure for Bahrain’s Ramli Mall is among the latest successes for Gulf Shade, which continues to expand its portfolio with diverse projects in the region.

July 2011

THE high calibre workmanship on the roof structure at Bahrain’s Ramli Mall in A’ali stands testimony to Gulf Shade’s expertise in the field of tensile fabric structures. The recently-completed project boosts the growing number of landmarks that the company has completed since it was established in the country.

The project comes almost a decade after it erected the striking roof structure over the Bahrain Mall, which made a profound impact at a time when such tensile structures were relatively new to the market.

Today as a regional leader in textile engineering and fabric architecture, the company aims to promote the advantages and aesthetic appeal of this unique form of engineering throughout the GCC and the Middle East and Africa (Mena) region, and as in the case of Ramli Mall, establish how a fabric structure can serve both functional and aesthetic purposes. A total of 2,860 sq m of PVC has gone into fashioning the roof structure above the food-court area of the mall in the shape of a cone with a diameter of 42 m.

Gulf Shade’s success in design, fabrication and installation of shade structures has helped it compete against some internationally-renowned names to land some of the biggest projects in the kingdom. The company attributes its exponential growth to its specialisation in fabric architecture and structural engineering that has helped it penetrate regional markets and attract customers from across the GCC.

“Tensile fabric structures are made primarily of PVC (polyvinyl chloride) or PTFE (polytetrafluoroethylene) and utilise cables and steel to provide shape and support,” explains Osama Al Thawadi, managing director of Gulf Shade. “The fabrics used are thin, light and long-lasting. By tensioning the fabric in all directions, a shape is formed, which is pre-determined by the design and the cutting pattern of the fabric. In combination with traditional building components, the effect of force flow in the thin-patterned fabric generates unique forms and shapes that are elegant and beautiful, giving a sense of lightness and freedom to the space they occupy. The curved, spherical surface gives tensile fabric structures a soft edge, enhancing their appeal and making them look more organic.

The entrance canopy at Al Sultan Centre, Qatar ... a Gulf Shade project.

“From the roofing of large sports halls, sports stadiums and shopping malls to airports, car-parking shades and fabric sculptures, tensile fabric structures are very adaptable to diverse project sizes and specifications.”

Gulf Shade was established in 1990 to provide a basic requirement in the extreme heat experienced in the Gulf region and address the lack of shade, by constructing sun and car-parking shades.

“These structures were based on simple designs and were fabricated to serve a fundamental purpose – providing shade,” says Al Thawadi. “From such humble beginnings, Gulf Shade has blossomed into a successful company that is now considered one of the leading textile engineering firms in the region providing high quality and well-designed fabric structures.”

The company was established in Bahrain and soon catered in a big way to the domestic market. With time, the demand for shades grew and domestic assignments soon included civil and industrial projects. The increase in demand combined with the vision of its management led to an increase in expertise, higher quality products and more complex services such as textile engineering.

Gulf Shade opened offices in Kuwait in 2004 and in Abu Dhabi and Doha in 2008, in a bid to cater to the requirements of customers and of challenging contracts there. Over the past decade since its inception, the firm has taken up key projects such as amusement parks, Olympic stadiums, malls and commercial complexes, VIP residences as well as government buildings from Cairo (Egypt) to Beirut (Lebanon), and from Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. The projects have involved engineering and technical expertise, design, sourcing and implementation, testing and finally installation.

Gulf Shade has a number of ongoing projects in the region, particularly in Qatar. The Bahrain-based company has clinched work on several striking landmarks such as the Sidra Medical Research Centre, the amphitheatre at The Pearl-Qatar, the plaza and parks in Al Wakrah and a gas facility at Ras Laffan Industrial City.

Commenting on the projects, he says: “We expect to complete work this month (July) on the amphitheatre at The Pearl-Qatar, which involves PVC-coated fabric tensile structures covering an area of 500 sq m. Also due for completion this month are the plaza and playground parks at Al Wakrah. This project involves covering three parks with PVC-coated fabric shades, involving a total area of 850 sq m.

“This apart, we have also completed 30 per cent of the work on the 554 car-park shades for Qatar Foundation’s Sidra Medical Research Centre. The project, which involves provision of 9,972 sq m of car-park shades using PTFE (Teflon)-coated fabric, is expected to be completed by the first quarter of 2012.

“Gulf Shade is also erecting 400 car-park shades for the gas facility at Ras Laffan.”

Meanwhile in Kuwait, the company is providing a PTFE-coated shade for the prayer room at a science centre. The prayer room comprises a double-layered fabric conical shape covering an area of 107 sq m. The walkways of the project are a series of triangular fixed-edge PVC 1002 S Formula shade covering an area of 260 sq m.

Also in Kuwait, Gulf Shade is engaged in providing shades for six schools for the Ministry of Education, having recently completed car-park shades for the Ministry of Interior.

In Bahrain, besides the Ramli Mall, the company has recently completed the wave shade roof tensile structure for two bridges at Arad. The project involved a total of 5,500 sq m of PVC 1002 Fluotop T2. The company is currently undertaking work at a 10-villa project in A’ali that involves shades for the play area.

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