MANEZH. Awnings. Under the cover of a saving shadow

15/ 05/ 2020

Spring has come and we are thinking about how to protect windows, balconies and outdoor terraces from the bright sun. It is easier and more economical to install fabric tents over them – awnings. But what do we know about them?

It is believed that the first fabric tents, which became the prototype of modern awnings, appeared in ancient Egypt and Syria. They are first mentioned in ancient Egyptian manuscripts of the first century. BC as “fabric mats” that overshadow market counters. Really, they were first mastered by traders, forced to protect themselves and their goods from the heat, wind or rain in such a simple way.

Photo: Hotel Saline, Leutheuser Restaurant and Sturm Clothing Store on the north side of Michigan

Initially, such structures were quite primitive: a simple wooden frame and fabric stretched on it. Very often they were stationary. Portable versions of awnings were used by rulers and nobles: for example, they decorated chariots and places of rest in the gardens and parks, awnings were used during horse or elephants riding in Africa or India, and even during military campaigns.

Ancient civilization not only used this effective sun protection method, but also significantly expanded the scope of fabric tent. It is worth noting that the awnings were a common attribute of all Roman theaters and amphitheaters, as the audience demanded not only fascinating entertainment, but also a comfortable environment. Among the most famous constructions are the velarium above the Colosseum. It was supported by a wooden frame of 240 (!) masts. By the way, the places of their installation can be found today. It is believed that it was built and serviced by sailors from Mizenum (the “headquarters” of the Navy of Ancient Rome): they were the only ones who had sufficient skills to work with rigging and sails.

It is not clear whether the velarium tents had any specific shades, but it is known that the awnings of Roman theaters were painted in different colors, including purple, red and yellow. The silk awnings decorated with a cloth image of the emperor, who ruled the chariot, were used in the wooden amphitheater of Nero, which burned down during the famous Roman fire that destroyed much of the city. Thus, colored or decorated awnings were used. However, the fabrics used for them quickly became unusable and needed regular replacement. As a rule, it was either canvas, or linen or cotton.

According to one of the versions the awnings appeared in the XV century due to the Venetian Marquis Francesco Borgia. They say that under the reason of protecting the white skin of his beloved Adelheida from the bright sun, the Marquis ordered to cover the windows of his palace with special fabric tents. Since then, awnings over the windows have become very popular, and the name owes his title (from the Italian. Marchese – Marquis).

Khreshchatyk is on a pre-revolutionary postcard, 1910. Then on the corner of Khreshchatyk and Prorizna Street was the building of the insurance company “Russia” with the confectionery “George” on the ground floor

For a long time, awnings remained inaccessible to most people. The first of them were far from perfect and had a short service life because the fabric lost its appeal and strength under the influence of the sun. Their short life and high price significantly reduced the interest of buyers.

They became widespread only in the XIX century when large public spaces and buildings began to appear in thecities. At the peak of their popularity, they were in North America, where at this time with the growth of the economy began to open numerous shops, stores, hotels, cafes and restaurants.

Restaurant Cafe de Paris, Minsk. Bucket Awning of the arched form TONDO.  MANEZH

At that time, awnings consisted of wooden or cast iron poles installed along the edge of the sidewalk and connected by a front crossbar. The upper end of the fabric was attached to the facade with nails or laced to a special detail attached with bolts to the wall. The other end of the fabric (protruding) was draped or laced to the front bar, and the edge often hung down. Metal poles of rich awnings were decorated with filigree, and the top – with spearheads, balls or other details.

Awnings became an integral attribute of the urban environment after the Civil War in the USA, and the advent of the first steamer forced fabric factories to seek new markets. Thus a whole industry of awnings and tents was gradually developed. It offered many options for frame structures and fabrics, adapting to both shop windows, windows and doors. By the end of the XIX century the first folding awnings appeared: they received elongated “arms” attached on hinges to the facade, which were either lowered to extend the awning, or raised to remove it using a simple system of ropes and pulleys.

Our Kyiv, which went through all the XIX century in an era of rapid construction and development, did not stay away from the fashion for awnings. For example, in the early 1910’s on the corner of Khreshchatyk and Prorizna Street there was the building of the insurance company “Russia” with the famous confectionery “Georges” on the ground floor, richly decorated with white awnings. At the beginning of the XX century next to Bessarabian Square, where the bazaar was always noisy, was the National Hotel, the gallery of the second floor above the entrance of which was also covered by awnings. There was a flower shop “Flora” on Mykolayivska Street at that time where flowers were delivered from Nice itself – its windows were protected from the sun by striped awnings, as well as the windows of the hotel “Continental” which was located nearby.

A radical turn in the history of fabric awnings occurred in 1967, when the French company Somfy first released a motor for the awning. Thus the era of automation began, and gradually from a conventional fabric tent awnings turned into modern high-tech automatic sun protection systems, complemented by various functions (solar and wind automation, rain sensors, lighting, etc.), as well as integration into the system “smart home”.

Modern awnings are distinguished by the practicality of the used material, the reliability of structures and ease of management and, among other things, have an extremely wide color palette which opens up almost limitless opportunities for the architect when working with the design.

Club Hotel M1, Odesa. Elbow Awning of open type “Standard”. MANEZH

They have their advantages over other canopies. The fabric for the manufacture of such awnings has a waterproof base, is resistant to ultraviolet light and other climatic influences. The position of the awning is adjustable, and its installation is not difficult, as well as further dismantling. The awnings have an attractive and stylish design. And if earlier they were more often applied to trade areas, public institutions and houses, recently their popularity and demand in housing construction has sharply increased.

There are various types of awnings: bucket, elbow, horizontal, vertical, Marquisolletti (balcony awnings), folding, stationary, closed (cassette) or open type, with manual or automatic control. Let’s try to understand this in details.

One of the most familiar to us is bucket awnings. It is enough to remember the image of favorite Parisian bistro or brand salon in the Vittorio Emmanuele II Gallery in Milan. It is a graceful hemispherical dome over door and window openings. As a rule, the frame of such awning contains several support arches with a common mechanism of rotation. Along with protection from the sun and rain, it often serves as an element of aesthetic design of building facades, as well as an effective outdoor advertising media: remember, they always elegantly display the name or logo.

Restaurant Lviv Croissants, Lviv. Balcony Awning “Italy”. MANEZH

MANEZH, as one of the leading Ukrainian specialists in the field of external sun protection systems, offers three versions of such a system: awning with a rectangular shape (BASE), awning with an arched shape (TONDO) and awning with a truncated arched shape (TONDO-BASE). The special design allows to provide to a product necessary durability and qualitative tension of fabric. In addition, you can choose a folding or stationary version of the system.

Another common type is the elbow awning. This is a complex structure, where the canvas is extended and held by means of “bending” elbows – metal beams connected by hinges or other type of movable connection. It can be open (the fabric is wound on a roller, as in roller blinds) or closed type (the fabric is hidden in a special cassette). This is the most universal means of shading terraces and balconies. MANEZH has a wide choice of such awnings, for example, a series of the Standard system, including with crossed elbows, and also the Pony model (elbow awning of the closed type) for shading of terraces and balconies of the small sizes.

Elbow Awning of open type over the terrace of one of the private houses

If it is necessary to shade a considerable area, so the elbow awning of open type “Giant” from the MANEZH company will become irreplaceable here. It is a large structure designed mainly for shading terraces of very large sizes. It rests on two load-bearing steel beams of square cross-section 40 x 40 mm, and thanks to the use of powerful aluminum elbows and elbow brackets brings forward its canvas by 6 m. Special wall brackets under two bearing beams reliably fix to the awning. The additional central support of the threaded pipe compensates for the possible sagging in the awnings of large width, which means that the fabric in it is well and evenly stretched. The angle of inclination can be easily adjusted, and such awning is operated only by means of the electric drive.

Balcony awnings where “elbows” work in the vertical plane are Marquisollets. From the outside, it looks as if someone has “set aside” the lower edge of the stretched canvas from a window or wall. The design of such awning allows to lower a forward beam together with fabric to vertical level. This is a stylish solution for sun protection not only balconies, but also window and door openings of small and medium size. The specially designed awning design keeps the upper part of the fabric in a vertical plane, and the movable aluminum shoulders adjust the angle of the lower part of the fabric. If there is a need to build in a number some such modules with the general bearing guides it is easy to increase width of all system and to cover the big area.

Moloko Bar, Odessa. Balcony Awning “Italy”. MANEZH

Around the mid-1960s, canvas fabric in awnings (usually cotton fiber) was replaced by acrylic materials and polyester, and today the most innovative fabrics of the latest generation are used, reflecting up to 90% of solar radiation, resistant to pollution, burnout and atmospheric action. By the way, laboratory studies have shown that the temperature under the awnings can be almost 20 degrees lower than outside it.

Awning over the entrance to the Chicago Theater with an inscription in honor of its 90th birthday, Chicago, Illinois, 2011

About rigid awnings

“Awning is a light, covered with iron or glass cap, sometimes arranged over the front door of buildings, such as theaters, and protects them from rain and snow, as well as canvas or linen canopy over the window, on the outside, which can be with cords and small blocks to be picked up in cloudy weather and dissolved in clear so that sunlight does not penetrate into the room” – such a definition of this seemingly simple architectural element is given by the encyclopedic dictionary of Brockhaus and Efron. So, traditionally, they can have either a rigid or flexible structure.

Awnings in the Art Nouveau style above the entrance to the headquarters building of the French edition of Ouest-France in Rennes

The first variant can be seen in the best examples of French Art Nouveau architecture, such as the awning over the entrance to the former theater and concert hall “Alcazar” (now the municipal library) in Marseille or Villa Majorelle in Nancy. If you find yourself in Times Square in New York or on Broadway, you will see another kind of rigid awnings – a competition with each other in the originality of design and beauty of illuminated roofs above the entrance to theaters, cinemas and music halls, which appeared in the golden era of cinema, and today abound in bright flashes of letters of the show’s names and the names of artists of the first magnitude.

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