Tensile structure is the term usually used to refer to the construction of roofs using a membrane held in place on steel cables. Their main characteristics are the way in which they work under stress tensile, their ease of pre-fabrication, their ability to cover large spans, and their malleability. This structural system calls for a small amount of material thanks to the use of thin canvases, which when stretched using steel cables, create surfaces capable of overcoming the forces imposed upon them.
Predominantly used in coverings of sports centers, of arenas, and industrial and agroindustrial constructions, tensile structures are based on the old systems used during the Roman Empire. However, from the Roman period until the mid-20th century, due to the low demand, usability, and lack of manufacturers of cables, canvasses, and connections capable of resisting the forces generated, there were few technological advances. It was only after the Industrial Revolution and the triggering of the era of Fordism that new developments were able to meet the intrinsic needs of this construction system. The low cost of mass production and the demand for systems capable of adapting to the most varied terrains with large spans, such as circus tents for example, encouraged the development of the technique.
The membranes of PVC-coated polyester fibers have greater ease in factory production and installation; lower cost; and medium durability—around 10 years.