Two New Tents
by Philip Drew
In Frei Otto's landmark examples, the tent fabric was largely glass. Using the term "tent" with admitted looseness, here are two recent examples in the continuing romance of modern expression with tensile engineering. At the Estádio Municipal de Braga, the sheltering tent is made of concrete, while at the Burj Al Arab Hotel, the tent covering is on its side, a great white spinnaker defining a spectacular atrium. — Editor
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Eduardo Souto de Moura's first idea for Braga, Portugal's new soccer stadium was to create a thin, curved, continuous awning similar to Álvaro Siza's Portuguese Pavilion for Expo 98. But after a visit to Peru, where he was impressed by the extraordinary rope bridges of the Incas, he decided on the present slim stadium.
Its roof awning, however, recalls the amphitheater vela roof of ancient Rome more than it does a swaying Inca bridge, and its strongest connection is with Siza's pavilion, whose structure it repeats. The pavilion's two gaps at the roof abutments have been omitted and replaced instead by a single, central opening over the playing field. Two stands replace the porticoes.
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This article is excerpted from New Tent Architecture by Philip Drew, copyright © 2008, with permission of the publisher, Thames & Hudson.