Yesterday saw the grand opening of the world's largest tensile structure - the Khan Shatyr in Kazakhstan. Designed by Foster+Partners, the new landmark will include entertainment facilities, cinemas, retail, restaurants and even a water park. The center is covered in translucent ETFE and designed to withstand the region's brutal winters and hot summers, providing a welcoming oasis for the people of Astana.
Weather changes in Kazakhstan are extreme — the climates drops down to -35 degrees Celsius in winter and can reach +35 degrees in summer. The Khan Shatyr is designed as a sheltering environment that provides a place to have fun and get away from the heat or the cold. To achieve an energy-efficient climate-controlled area, the tent is covered in three layers of ETFE, which allows light to filter into the tent below. In the winter, ice formation is prevented on the inside layer through temperature control and directing warm air currents up the inner surface of the fabric. Then during the summer, fritting on the outermost foil layer provides solar shading and cool air is directed across the space and vents at the top allow hot air to escape.