Textile materials fulfil a range of functions in construction, providing reinforcement, UV and water resistance, as well as thermal and sound insulation. Their uses include general building roles such as membranes for roofs, insulation and fire walls, as well as tarpaulins, scaffolding nets and signage banners/billboards.
As well as providing an aid to traditional construction techniques, textiles are widely used in their own right, such as awnings, canopies and marquees. With some very notable structures relying on textile materials, for example the retractable roof at Wimbledon is Tenara fabric on a steel frame. (Ref: http://www.tenarafabric.com/wimbledon.html ) Traditional construction materials would be too heavy to allow for the structure to move, but the fabric is lightweight and durable enough to fulfil a role unachievable without the implementation of technical textiles.
Like the Automotive and Aerospace industry, composites are being implemented in construction, in roles such as non-structural decorative items, like spires on churches, because of their low weight.
The use of composites as appose to steel was accelerated following a series of earthquakes in and around California in the late 1980’s and into the 1990’s. The destruction to road systems was so widespread that composites were examined in a funded research project by the University of California, where they studied their structural integrity, life expectancy and regulations of use. (ref; http://jit.sagepub.com/content/31/3/205 ) Textile composites, consisting of a fabric structure set in concrete are now widely used in roads, bridges and buildings.