Biodome Design

Tensiform’s Business

Tensiform’s mission is to design the most cost effective and sustainable biodome structures using membrane architecture. It will work closely with Clearbuilt who will construct Tensiform’s designs.

What Is Membrane Architecture?

Membrane architecture refers to building structures that are constructed mainly from light weight metal frame with a fabric style, tent-like roof made of material that is held under tension (in our case ETFE). It has become increasingly popular over the past 30 + years as the technology and materials used are lighter, making architectural construction easier and cheaper with respect to required cladding.

Why Is It Attractive?

When compared to more conventional building techniques (used in greenhouse nurseries, stadiums, shopping centers), membrane architectural structures are:

  • More economical to design and manufacture;
  • Easier to build, even in urban environments;
  • A cheaper, more sustainable alternative;
  • And with the demand for modern buildings, membrane architecture provides increased versatility for eye-catching designs.

Biodome Design

Design And Technology

Various materials can be used for membrane architecture. However Tensiform is initially designing structures using ETFE (Ethylene Tetra Flouro Ethylene) for Renergy Foods Canada’s Biodomes. ETFE pneumatic pillows were chosen to build Renergy’s bio domes for it’s ability to provide successful agricultural growing climates.

ETFE is a revolutionary building material with a variety of ideal characteristics (ei. climate control), making it the material of choice when it comes to designing sustainable membrane architecture structures. In addition, ETFE characteristics result in a significant cost reduction and life-longevity; especially when compared to traditional building materials. ETFE characteristics are listed below:

  • lightweight (c.1% of the weight of glass) thereby significantly reducing building material requirements
  • self cleaning and therefore low maintenance
  • allows 95% transmission of all light frequencies
  • highly resistant to tearing, weathering and corrosion
  • able to absorb shock loading
  • fire resistant
  • offers climate control when triple-layer pneumatic pillows are used
  • longlasting with a lifespan of over 50 years
  • environmentally friendly and reduced carbon footprint


The use of ETFE in membrane architecture is well suited for projects of various sizes. Applications range from small scale urban farms to large scale commercial developments. With a growing demand for quality, eco-friendly products, ETFE is proven in a number of architectural applications, including:

  • Sustainable alternative for agricultural development (Nurseries & Greenhouses)
  • Glazing for large commercial developments
  • Pavilions for outdoor venues, community centers, and restaurants
  • Biodome pneumatic pillows for structural enclosures

Examples of existing structures employing ETFE architectural membranes include the well known ‘Water Cube’ in the Beijing National Aquatic Centre, built specifically for the 2008 Olympic Games; and the Eden Project in Cornwall, UK, which was the first UK structure to use ETFE pillows.  Smaller examples include the KC Live! entertainment complex, the  first single layered ETFE membrane installed in North America; and the Nantong Park Bon-Garden, Greenhouse.

Tensiform will initially be supplying Renergy Foods Canada with the requirements for its Biodome structures. These structures are currently in the design phase.


Tensiform Structures, Inc. currently operates as a licenced Canadian private company, located in Vancouver, BC.

Further Reading

Tags: ETFE, energy solutions, construction material, sustainable, eco-friendly, bio dome, property development, urban farm, greenhouse, nursery, botanical garden,