Portable Architecture

After our review last Wed. and Fri. I decided not to look into Nomadic architecture but look more into the connections and materials of the new, high-tech tents of today.

Portable Architecture: Tent Research

Types of Tents

  • Yurt: Circular wooden frame made into a lattice structure and held together by rope and ribbon. Structure is then covered in felt, which is used to keep it in compression along with a heavy weight that is hung from the center of the tent. Primarily used in Central Asia and Northern Africa.
  • Ridge: Classic A-frame design. Stable in high winds but very heavy and bulky. Primarily used by Vikings and militaries.
  • Geodesic: Most influential design in the last century. Very good for rough weather conditions because it can be repositioned without being dismantled. Uses tensegrity.
  • Dome: Most used for camping. Very spacious. Poles meet at the tents highest point to form the structure.
  • Tunnel: Spacious design and can have multiple rooms. Supported by two or three flexible poles, which are used independently.
  • Traverse Hoop: Extremely light weight and usually made for one person. Uses one or two interdependent poles for structure.

Tent Structure

Three Major Components

    1. Outer Membrane: Covers the frame and carries the load primarily though tension. Its main function is to protect the interior.
    2. The Frame: The type of its construction varies with the different types of tents. It can consist of flexible rods that transfer loads like an arch. What the outer membrane is attached to.
    3. An Anchorage System: These are the tabs that connect the outer membrane to the frame by using tent clips and pole sleeves. Also uses rope and tent stakes to anchor the tent to the ground.



  • Carbon Fiber: Very strong and flexible. Becoming the future of tent poles.
  • Aluminum Alloy: Makes up almost all tent poles today. Consists of multiple sections that are joined through an elastic shock cord and then anodized to prevent corrosion.
  • Fiberglass: Has been replaced by aluminum alloy. It is not as strong so it has to be thicker and heavier, adding too much weight to most tents.

Fabric Construction

  • Single Wall: Single layer of a tent cover. Protects from water and wind and it is durable and breathable.
  • Double Wall: Has an outer flysheet and an inner tent. The fly sheet is waterproof while the inner tent is breathable.

Tent Covers

  • Polyurethane Coating: Applied to the tent fabric and makes it more durable and waterproof.
  • Waterproof/ Breathable Laminates: A layering system of different materials to form a strong and waterproof but breathable laminate. Types of laminates include Goretex, Toddtex, Klimate and Membrain.
  • Ripstop: Polyester taffeta with thick threads weaved into a material at regular intervals and helps to prevent small rips.
  • Clear Film: A see through material often used for windows and skylights.

Tent Connections

  • Sleeves: Poles run through them to connect the frame to the outer membrane. Very sound in windy or rainy conditions.
  • Clips: Easily connect to the tent poles. Makes the set up easier but they are not as sounds as sleeves.

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