THE CHALLENGE – DESIGN A CANOPY AROUND 20 FULLY MATURE, PROTECTED TREES
Flying Saucer is the busiest restaurant and bar in downtown Fort Worth, Texas. It has a large outdoor dining courtyard that doubles as a concert venue during spring and summer months. This al fresco zone is graced with more than 20 mature trees, which give Flying Saucer a special point of difference. The trees, which are protected, don’t provide sufficient shelter for patrons and the Texas sun is relentless. Management of Flying Saucer recognized the need for a shade structure to keep patrons comfortable. The position and height of the trees would dictate the shade structure’s form, as well as its material. Trees require sunlight for respiration and growth.
THE SOLUTION – TRANSLUCENT ETFE STRUCTURE THAT PROVIDES SHADING WITHOUT INTERFERING WITH TREE RESPIRATION
ETFE film was the choice for this design-to-installation Structurflex project because it allows transmission of UV, which supports plant health and growth. To insure the comfort of diners, the ETFE is fritted with silver dots to provide a degree of shade. A vent at the top of the structure allows warm air to escape, which pleases both the trees and the patrons. The shape and spans of the fabric membrane structure were designed around the tree canopy, which is shorter at the street edge of the courtyard, and installation was organized to minimize disruption to patrons and staff. Road closure permits were secured to allow the use of specialized lifting and hoisting equipment. The outcome is a canopy that looks after everyone’s needs – the trees’ need for sunlight, and staff and patrons’ need for relief from the heat and sun.