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Last edited 18 Jan 2021
Inflatable buildings are constructed using two layers of membrane connected together to form inflatable 'cushions'. Membranes are usually less than 1 mm thick, and air is used to pressurise the cavity between them to form a 'rigid', structurally stable element, capable of spanning large distances.
Inflatable buildings differ from air-supported buildings, which are formed by a single-layer membrane that is supported by pressurisation of the whole interior of the building. An air-supported building prevents air from being lost when access points are opened by using airlocks, which maintain the level of air pressure inside the occupied space. Inflatable buildings have a lower power requirement than inflatable buildings as they require a lower volume of pressurised air.
Inflatable buildings are typically used for warehouses and other storage facilities, sports facilities, stadia, shopping centres and so on. Since the amount of material used for inflatable buildings is relatively low, they can be portable, with the air allowed to escape before the membrane is packed down to a small volume.
Inflatables should be checked before buying or hiring for an event to ensure they comply with BS EN 14960. A label should provide information about when the inflatable was made, how many people can use it and their maximum heights. Once the inflatable is fully inflated, it should be inspected prior to use to check that the site is suitable, that the anchorages are secure, and the internal air pressure provides a firm footing.
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