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Retail awning design serves many purposes

Exteriors, Features | January 1, 2014 | By:

Bike shop fabric structure simulates amphitheater, protects from rain and sun, and gives retailer a competitive edge.

The Bike Route is one of the hubs of the local bicycling community in Naples, Fla. It sits in a typical American retail setting, fronted by a paved parking lot, which directly adjoins a busy divided four-lane boulevard. The owner of the Bike Route wished to be able to have a better space for bike test rides, product demonstrations and other events, hence he decided to further develop the park-like setting already built behind the shop. Part of defining the area behind the shop as a “place” is a 20-foot by 20-foot (36.8 square meter) canopy awning, located over the back entrance.

“The awning structure was designed to give shade and rain protection to the rear door of the bike shop, we chose the shape to simulate a band shell or amphitheater look on a smaller scale as the bike park has been used to stage vignettes and also used as the stage to launch charity bike rides for several hundred cyclists,” said John Wilkinson, president of Sunmaster of Naples, Fla., USA, and designer for the project, ” The structure also doubles as a shade structure after the rides for riders to congregate while they share stories of the day.“

“The design emulated a tension structure through use of radius cutouts on the projection,” explained Jeff Barkin, marketer for Titan Screen of Naples, Fla., USA, an affiliate of Sunmaster. “This gave the resulting awning a stretched fabric look. To further achieve the look, the drop bar was removed, giving the structure a more open appearance. The use of the two support posts help to achieve the desired openness, as well. One of the big challenges was to have no exposed fasteners, adding to the tension structure appearance.”

BTF-19, a PVC-coated, pre-tensioned polyester fabric, specially designed for commercial and residential awnings, and manufactured by Naizil S.p.A in Campodarsego, Italy, and Bolton, Ontario, Canada, was chosen to cover the structure. The fabric has a weight of 18-19 oz. per sq. yard (610.3 – 644.2 gm per sq. meter). It is coated with a Polyvinylidene Flouride/Acrylic finish, providing a non-sticky external coating over the PVC. The benefit of this is high resistance to soil and water. The fabric is guaranteed for 10 years of performance.

Another challenge in designing the structure was to locate the columns supporting the awning, so that they did not block traffic flows around the back entrance. “This led to positioning the columns 12 feet (3.66 meters) from the wall, giving the canopy an 8 foot (2.44 meters) cantilever,” explained Wilkinson. ”Due to the aesthetics of the canopy, it already had trusses much stronger than needed to accomplish this. Of course being located in Southwest Florida, hurricane force winds are what we design all of our canopies to withstand, so while this is commonplace, the structure does reflect that requirement.”
The columns for the metal structure were built from 6-inch (15.2 cm) schedule 80 steel pipe (nominal wall thickness 0.43 inches or 1.1 cm). The frame was created from 2-inch by 2-inch (5-cm by 5-cm) aluminum tubing, powder coated slate grey in a satin finish to simulate the look of quite a few of the carbon fiber racing bicycles used today, according to Wilkinson.

“The Bike Route is a shop that handles not only your everyday bicycles but also some very high-end racing bicycles, some of which are made from aluminum. As the awning was to be fabricated from the same material, it was important that the construction was held to the highest standard as it would surely be compared to the construction of the racing frames,” elaborated Wilkinson. “We made certain that all of the joints were extremely tight. We then used our most experienced welder to lay down his best TIG welds. Each weld was scrutinized to ensure it had the proper ‘stack of dimes’ appearance.”

The Bike Route is reported as being very happy with the resulting “amphitheater feel” of the awning, believing that the resulting ability to host events, demonstrations and rides gives them a competitive edge.

Mark Zeh regularly writes about technology and design from his base in Munich, Germany.

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