People enjoy big and open spaces, living and working in them but in the reality, having large and open spaces is very cost inefficient. That is one of the many reasons why quite a lot of buildings are being built with a relatively low ceiling height, around 2,7 m (9 ft) height, might vary by the country. And because of that, some of the construction processes, or, to be precise, parts of the premises, face some particular issues. One of them being HVAC. With low ceiling height it becomes hard to install conventional overhead air distribution systems as they poorly distribute air and does not contribute to high Indoor Air Quality (IAQwhich is the most important and directly relates to the health and comfort of the occupants. However, for various low-ceiling premises there are alternatives to conventional solutions. And they involve fabric.
Alternative to overhead
There is no doubt that even conventional air distribution solutions can suggest some alternatives for premises with low ceiling height. One of the best solution for that would be an underfloor air delivery system but it also has its downside. And, quite a big one. It can only be operational in clear or not too crowded spaces. Meaning, that even if it is an alternative, it actually can be operated in spaces with a lot of furniture and occupants that could block the airflow.
Fabric-based solutions for life without headaches
Fabric-based air distribution systems are becoming more and more appealing not just for contractors but for interior designers as well. Having in mind low-ceiling facilities, gyms and sports centers are the ones that are eagerly implementing this advanced and innovative solution. The main reason behind is – a reasonably high amount of working out people that are breathing and sweating heavily which builds up the humidity and unpleasant odors which does not help with a comfortable indoor environment. And this is where fabric-based solutions come in handy.
One of the examples of this is the studio at London Covent Garden which had a problem with the indoor environment due to sweat and heat from the athletes. The gym installed a D-shaped fabric duct system, mounted onto the support columns in the exercise area. These ensured a steady stream of conditioned air to cool the athletes as they worked out. The flexibility of the ducting prevented dents if they were to be struck by people or equipment.
The other similar case to this was Maya Sports Center in Turkey where fabric-based air distribution solution contributed not just to the overall quality of indoor environment but also became an interior design element. The system was designed to include LED lighting, stylishly blending air distribution and lighting into one custom system. So it gave a unique lighting possibility and created a very distinctive signature of a gym itself.
But we can find low ceilings not just in gyms. Schools, libraries, healthcare establishments and even modern offices has them, mostly equipped with even lower suspended ceiling. These kind of premises cannot install the traditional fabric ducts as they would be covered with the ceiling tiles. However, there is one other solution that could be applied here. Fabric-based ceiling diffusers are designed to create a quiet and comfortable indoor environment and ensure high indoor air quality. One of the most interesting and attractive feature of this new solution – flexibility of the design. The diffuser’s flow panel can either adapt to the surrounding ceiling tiles or stand out with various colors and custom prints. So, besides the fact that it does not compromise its performance, it can also be a part of integral design or become a unique element of interior design. In addition, fabric-based ceiling diffusers does not require too much space in between suspended and actual ceiling, some of them needs only 300 mm and, because of flexible fabric sleeves, they can connect to solid and flexible ducts in the quickest manner of time.
Innovations eliminate the issues
Modern world is changing every minute. Thanks to a rapid changes in every aspect of the world, HVAC industry, even if very conservative, is also evolving. And if a few years ago some things were issues, they are being eliminated with the innovative solutions even in such slow moving industry as HVAC. And even if now there are still some applications and projects that could not install fabric-based solutions, their flexibility and adaptability to many of the cases is showing the upper hand. It is just a matter of time until fabric-based solutions will be much more relevant and visible than they are today.