Sail shaped awnings
Kind Code:

The invention relates to sail shaped awnings, and particularly to attached or freestanding awnings that use tensioned flexible fabric to protect against the sun, wind, rain, hail and other weather conditions. Such awnings may also incorporate firefighting characteristics. In one aspect, the invention resides in a sail shaped awning attached to a building structure, and at least one remote support or column having at least one wire or cable for tensioning the awning, is connected to the roof or roof support assembly so as to apply a downward, restraining force. Preferably, outer edge(s) of the tensioned awning fabric connected to at least one remote support or column are raised or lowered to assist in holding down the roof and to keep out debris during high winds. The outer edge(s) may be connected to hoisting cables or chains connected to winches on the remote support or column, or to telescopic columns.

Hart, Garry Randall (The Grange, AU)
Application Number:
Publication Date:
Filing Date:
Primary Class:
International Classes:
E04B7/14; E04F10/02; E04H15/18; E04H15/58; E04F10/06; (IPC1-7): E04F10/00
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:

Primary Examiner:
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Juan Carlos A. Marquez (Washington, DC, US)
1. A sail shaped awning attached to a building structure and at least one remote support, or column, wherein at least one wire or cable, operable to tension the awning, is connected to a roof, or roof support assembly, of the building structure to apply a downward, restraining force thereto.

2. An awning as claimed in claim 1, wherein: outer edges(s) of the tensioned awning fabric, connected to the remote support(s) and/or column(s), are selectively raiseable or lowerable to assist in holding down the roof and to prevent the ingress of debris in high winds.

3. An awning as claimed in claim 2, wherein: supplementary connection means, such as cables or chains, are provided between the roof, or roof support assembly, and the remote support(s) and/or column(s).

4. An awning as claimed in claim 3, wherein: the outer edge(s) are connected to hoisting cables or chains operably connected to winches on the remote support(s) or column(s); or the outer edge(s) are connected to telescopic columns.

5. A sail shaped awning wherein: at least one column supporting the tensioned awning fabric is curved to form an outwardly directed upper distal column portion; and an adjacent portion of the awning fabric is tensioned over the upper distal column portion.

6. An awning as claimed in claim 5, wherein: a cable or chain connected to the adjacent portion of the awning fabric passes over a roller, pulley or guide at the distal end of the upper distal column portion and is tensioned by tensioning means on the column or on the ground.

7. A sail shaped awning having at least one outwardly curved or inclined supporting column, wherein: when the awning fabric is tensioned, the column is deflected to reduce the curvature or inclination below the strength or failure criteria of the column.

8. A sail shaped awning supported on a plurality of spaced columns, wherein: each column has a curved, outwardly and downwardly directed, upper distal column portion, adjacent upper distal column portions being interconnected by edge tensioning means for the awning fabric.

9. A sail shaped awning supported on a plurality of spaced columns, wherein: each column has a curved, inwardly and downwardly directed upper distal column portion, the edges of the awning fabric being tensioned over the upper distal column portions and secured to the columns intermediate their height.

10. A sail shaped awning having at least one layer of tensioned awning fabric mounted on at least one support; wherein: the or each support includes a building structure, a column or post, a beam or frame member extending from the building structure, or a cable or beam interconnecting two or more of the columns or a column and the building structure.

11. An awning as claimed in claim 10, wherein: the or each beam or frame member extends from the building structure in a cantilevered manner, or is supported by a column intermediate its length or adjacent a distal end, the or each beam being optional curved to tension the awning fabric in two directions.

12. An awning as claimed in claim 10, wherein: the awning fabric is mounted on two or more groups of the supports at respective different heights to tension the awning fabric in at least two directions to form awning shapes such as hypars.

13. An awning as claimed in claim 10, wherein: two or more vertically spaced layers of awning fabric are mounted on the supports in at least partial overlap, where at least one of the layers of awning fabric is a shade cloth and the or each other layer of awning fabric is a shade cloth or a solid fabric.

14. An awning as claimed in claim 13, wherein: one or more vent means are provided in the or each layer of awning fabric.

15. An awning as claimed in claim 10, wherein: one or more wall panels interconnect two or more of the supports.

16. An awning as claimed in claim 10, wherein: one or more of the wall panels are mounted to be selectively raised or lowered relative to the adjacent supports, where the or each wall panel is mounted on wall panel support members hingedly mounted or attached to the supports, or is extendible or retractable in the manner of a venetian blind.

17. An awning as claimed in claim 16, wherein: secondary supports support free ends of the columns, as the supports, and the or each wall panel; and means between the wall panel support members and the secondary supports urge the wall panels to a raised position.

18. An awning as claimed in claim 10, wherein: the or each layer of awning fabric comprises a plurality of at least semi-rigid panels hingedly interconnected together.

19. An awning as claimed in claim 10, wherein: beams or cables interconnect pairs of spaced supports to define ridges and/or valleys in the or each layer of awning fabric.

20. A sail shaped awning having at least one layer of tensioned awning fabric supported on at least one column wherein: the or each column has a substantially vertical lower portion end a curved upper portion, the awning fabric being connected to, and extending at least partially over, the carved upper portion.

21. An awning as claimed in claim 20, wherein: the upper portion is outwardly directed; and connection means connect an edge of the awning fabric to the upper portion so that the edge overlies the upper portion.

22. An awning as claimed in claim 21, wherein: the upper portion is outwardly and downwardly directed; and connection means connect an edge of the awning fabric to the upper portion so that the awning fabric extends over, and down, the upper portion.

23. An awning as claimed in claim 20, wherein: the upper portion is inwardly and downwardly directed; and connection means connect an edge of the awning fabric to an intermediate or lower portion of the column, the awning fabric being supported by, and extending over the, upper portion.

24. An awning as claimed in claim 20, wherein: the awning is supported by two or more of the columns, where the columns have upper portions at two or more different heights.

25. An awning as claimed in claim 20, wherein: the or each column has two or more curved upper portions, each upper portion supporting one or more layers of awning fabric.

26. An awning as claimed in claim 20, wherein: tensioned cables or chains connect the upper portions to footings to resist upward flexing of the upper portions.

27. An awning as claimed in claim 20, wherein: wall panels of tensionable fabric interconnect the lower portions of adjacent columns.

28. An awning as claimed in claim 20, wherein: a first layer of awning fabric of shade cloth material overlies, and is spaced above, a second layer of solid awning fabric to provide a cool, waterproof area covered by the awning.

29. A sail shaped awning having at least one layer of tensioned awning fabric supported on at least one column, wherein: connection means between the awning fabric to the or each column is movable with a vertical direction component along the or each column to enable the awning to be moved between a raised position and a lowered position.

30. An awning as claimed in claim 29, wherein: the connection means includes a flexible cable or chain arranged to pass between guide means on the or each column, the flexible cable or chain being operably connected to a control cable or chain; or trolley means; operably connected to winch means in or on the or each column.

31. An awning as claimed in claim 29, wherein: when the awning is mounted on a building structure, and is in the lowered position, the awning applies downward restraining force(s) to a roof structure of the building to at least partially protect the building structure against high winds, flying debris and the like.

32. An awning as claimed in claim 31, wherein: one or more cables interconnect the building structure to the or each column to assist in the application of the downward restraining force(s) to the roof structure.

33. An awning as claimed in claim 29, wherein: where the or each column has an outwardly directed, curved, upper portion, the connection means includes a resiliently extensible tension member, such as shockcord, to accommodate the curvature of the columns.

34. An awning as claimed in claim 31, wherein: the edges of the awning fabric are reinforced with plastic tensionable material, such as shockcord; and the combination of the stretchable properties of the awning fabric with the elastic tensionable materials provides a combined dampening force against vibrational earthquake forces applied to the awning and/or the building structure.

35. A sail shaped awning having at least one layer of tensioned awning fabric supported on at least one column, wherein: at least one nozzle, operable to spray a fluid, is provided on the or each column, the or each nozzle being operable to direct the fluid into an area covered by the awning fabric.

36. An awning as claimed in claim 35, wherein: a first nozzle is provided adjacent an upper end of the or each column; and a second nozzle is provided intermediate the length of the or each column.

37. An awning as claimed in claim 35, wherein: the or each column is hollow and contains or forms a reservoir for the fluid; the fluid being a liquid, gas, or foam, or particulate for fire fighting purposes, or for de-icing or melting snow on the awning.

38. An awning as claimed in claim 2 wherein: each outer edge of the tensioned awning fabric has a pair of aligned pockets operable to receive respective hingedly-connected arms of an edge bar connectable to a remote support or column, where shear pins interconnecting the arms are operable to fall above a preset wind load to allow the arms to be released from the aligned pockets.



[0001] 1. Field of the Invention

[0002] THIS INVENTION relates to sail shaped awnings.

[0003] The invention is particularly suitable for, but not limited to, attached or freestanding awnings which use tensioned flexible fabric, including shade cloth, to provide protection against UV-radiation from the sun, wind, rain, hail and other adverse weather conditions; and which may incorporate fire fighting installations.

[0004] 2. Prior Art

[0005] The use of shade cloth as a roof cladding material has solved many of the preexisting problems presented by solid roofed verandahs, awnings and porches. Some advantages already included in the existing technology include the very cost effective architectural impact available using the shape, form and colour of sail shades as compared to solid roofed conventional construction.

[0006] Also, the use of shade cloth, when designed correctly, promotes and increases natural cross-flow ventilation. The porosity of the cloth allows the fabric to “breathe”, and this material property, used in conjunction with heat generated convection currents, is one solution to the common problem of heat build up under the roof, and the restriction of natural cooling breezes associated with solid roofed awning and verandahs.

[0007] The use of shade cloth has also provided a very cost effective means of allowing light into the existing building. A common problem with solid roofed awnings and verandahs is that the inside of the existing house becomes dark because of the opaque roof cladding. Shade cloth is much more cost effective as a transparent or translucent cladding when compared to glass or plastic alternatives.

[0008] Often overlooked is the potential of shade cloth awnings to promote the growth of plants adjacent to the existing house. Modifying heat and light penetration, while still allowing rain through, provides improved growing conditions for most plants. The plants are then used to increase cooling and air purification.

[0009] The existing awning and shade sail technology has failed to solve the problems of strengthening existing buildings to accommodate the additional wind loads generated by attaching extra roof areas to existing buildings. Obviously existing buildings are constructed using many different construction methods and materials, and therefore strengthening them will also require a wide range of methods and materials. These individual and non-standarised methods of strengthening will require individual design and subsequent high costs.

[0010] U.S. Pat. No. 4,768,317 shows a lightweight awning structure which is removable, however to remove it requires unfastening of “Velcro” strips and sliding the upper edge of the cover out of a rope track, all at the window top level in high wind, and therefore does not solve the problem of easy, controllable and safe removal. Also the cantilevered structural form of the fame directly transfers wind loads to the support building via the frame.

[0011] U.S. Pat. No. 5,303,728 is similar to existing shade sail technology, where the removal of the cover via the hooks, and separation from the poles will not be controlled or safe even in mild wind conditions. In extreme cases the wind load transferred to the vehicle could tip it.

[0012] U.S. Pat. No. 5,449,032 shows a means of using removable arched ribs to prevent water ponding on the awning. Removal of the ribs and the cover they support is not controlled and high wind loads are transferred directly back to the support structure.

[0013] U.S. Pat. No. 4,411,109 is obviously for larger awnings with fixed beam supports. It cannot be removed on the warning of high wind loads. High wind loads are transferred directly back to the support structure and to the ground via the columns.

[0014] U.S. Pat. No. 4,733,683 is a retractable awning, however the mechanism used to stow the awning is neither controlled or safe against wind uplift even in mild wind conditions, irrespective of the legs being attached to the ground or the structure.

[0015] U.S. Pat. No. 4,997,021 is similar to the previous U.S. Pat. No. 4,733,683 except that it is electrically or mechanically assisted. There is no method of controlled retracting in windy conditions.

[0016] U.S. Pat. No. 5,148,640 recognises the need to reduce or relieve wind-generated loads on support structures. The fabric cover with attached plastic edge strips are designed to break away under heavy wind load, with the awning becoming an unsafe projectile.

[0017] Another major area of concern is the marked increase in skin cancer, such as melanoma, due to exposure to the sun. While municipal authorities have started to install more shade structures in playgrounds, parks and the like, these are usually spaced some distance, e.g., three metres plus above the ground level, and so have minimal effect against reflected UV-radiation (UV-A and UV-B) which may be responsible for up to 50% of to radiation received on the skin. It has been estimated that this reflected radiation may be responsible for up to 50% of skin cancers. In overcoming this problem, there must be a balance between maximum available UV-radiation protection, the maximum area of coverage, and ease of access, balanced against the overall cost.

[0018] Most existing sail shade awnings do not provide the maximum area of coverage possible as the corners of the sails are connected to supporting structures and/or posts by shackles and other attachment equipment which, while enabling the sail to be tensioned, space the sail from the structure(s) and/or posts.

[0019] Finally, none of the awnings available to the present have means to provide additional fire protection to the structures to which they are attached.


[0020] It is an object of the present invention to provide sail shaped awnings which can be installed to strengthen the structure to which they are attached.

[0021] It is a preferred object to provide such awnings which can provide downward force to restrain the structure roof in high winds, earthquake or cyclonic conditions.

[0022] It is a further preferred object of the present invention to provide awnings which can buffer or damper wind gust impact loads on the structures.

[0023] It is another preferred object of the present invention to provide sail shaped awnings which can provide maximum area coverage for a given sail size, and which can provide shade to a perimeter frame or boundary.

[0024] It is a further preferred object to provide such awnings which centre easily, raised or lowered on the support structures or posts.

[0025] It is a still further preferred object to provide such awnings which can be easily raised or lowered.

[0026] It is a still further preferred object to provide such awnings which can be configured to minimise reflected radiation entering the area covered by the awnings, while allowing reasonable access thereto.

[0027] It is a still further preferred object to incorporate curved, or outwardly inclined, support columns for improved aesthetic appeal.

[0028] It is a still further preferred object to provide such awnings which incorporate fire fighting installations.

[0029] Other preferred objects win become apparent from the following description.


[0030] In one aspect, the present invention resides in a sail shaped awning attached to a building structure, and at least one remote support, or column, wherein at last one wire or cable, operable to tension the awning, is connected to a roof, or roof support assembly, of the building structure to apply a downward, restraining force thereto.

[0031] Preferably, outer edge(s) of the tensioned awning fabric, conned to the remote support(s) and/or column(s), are selectively raiseable or lowerable to assist in holding down the roof and to prevent the ingress of debris in high winds.

[0032] Preferably, supplementary connection means, such as cables or chains, are provided between the roof, or roof support assembly, and the remote support(s) and/or column(s).

[0033] Preferably, the outer edge(s) are connected to hoisting cables or chains operably connected to winches on the remote support(s) or column(s).

[0034] Alternatively, the outer edge(s) are connected to telescopic columns.

[0035] In a second aspect, the present invention resides in a sail shaped awning wherein:

[0036] at least one column supporting the tensioned awning fabric is curved to form an outwardly directed upper distal column portion; and

[0037] an adjacent portion of the awning fabric is tensioned over the upper distal column portion.

[0038] Preferably, a cable or chain connected to the adjacent portion of the awning fabric passes over a roller, pulley or guide at the distal end of the upper distal column portion and is tensioned by tensioning means on the column or on the ground.

[0039] In a third aspect, the present invention resides in a sail shaped awning having at least one outwardly curved or inclined supporting column, wherein:

[0040] when the awning fabric is tensioned, the column is deflected towards a substantially vertical position.

[0041] In a fourth aspect, the present invention resides in a sail shaped awning supported on a plurality of spaced columns, wherein:

[0042] each column has a curved, outwardly and downwardly directed, upper distal column portion, adjacent upper distal column portions being interconnected by edge tensioning means for the awning fabric.

[0043] In a fifth aspect, the present invention resides in a sail shaped awning supported on a plurality of spaced columns, wherein:

[0044] each column has a curved, inwardly and downwardly directed upper distal column portion, the edges of the awning fabric being tensioned over the upper distal column portions and secured to the columns intermediate their height.

[0045] In a sixth aspect, the present invention resides in a sail shaped awning having tensioned awning fabric supported on at least one column, wherein:

[0046] at least one nozzle, operable to spray fire fighting liquid or foam, is provided on the column, the or each nozzle being operable to direct the liquid or foam into the area covered by the awning fabric.

[0047] Other aspects of the invention will become apparent from the following description and claims.


[0048] To enable the invention to be fully understood, preferred embodiments will now be described with reference to the accompanying drawings:

[0049] FIG. 1 is an aerial view of a single storey house with a plurality of the awnings of the present invention around the perimeter;

[0050] FIGS. 1A and 1B show similar views for two-storey houses;

[0051] FIG. 2 is a sectional view on line A-A on FIG. 1;

[0052] FIG. 2A is a similar view of the house of FIGS. 1A and 1B showing the sail shades in raised and lowered positions;

[0053] FIG. 3 shows a column operable to support a sail shade in both raised and lowered position;

[0054] FIG. 3(a) is a top plan view of FIG. 3;

[0055] FIG. 3A shows a part-sectional view of an alternative column;

[0056] FIG. 3B illustrates the method of raising and lowering the sail shades;

[0057] FIG. 3C illustrates a third embodiment of the column to raise and lower the said shades;

[0058] FIG. 4 is a schematic elevational end view showing raising and lowering of frame for the awnings;

[0059] FIG. 5 is a schematic view of various types of shade sails erected close to the roof perimeter of a building;

[0060] FIGS. 6 and 7 are similar views of further alternative embodiments;

[0061] FIG. 8 is a schematic view of a further alternative column for raising and lowering the shade sails;

[0062] FIG. 9 is a schematic side view of telescopic columns for the shade sails;

[0063] FIGS. 10 to 21 illustrate variations in the types and construction of shade structures;

[0064] FIG. 22 is a schematic view of further alternative embodiments for attachment of the shade sail to a building;

[0065] FIGS. 23 and 24 are schematic views of alternative external-skeleton structures to support the shade sails;

[0066] FIG. 25 illustrates methods of using tiles or panels hingedly connected together to form the sail fabric;

[0067] FIG. 26 shows schematic view of awnings supported on curved columns;

[0068] FIGS. 27 and 28 are schematic views of double-skinned hypar shade structures;

[0069] FIG. 29 is a schematic view of a large building enclosure;

[0070] FIGS. 30 to 32 are isometic views of shade structures using the eaves and/or gable ends of buildings as one support means for the shade fabric;

[0071] FIG. 33 shows a schematic view of a hypar shade structure when the shade cloth fabric has bias stretch orientated to produce a hypar shape without the need for complex pattern cutting of the cloth;

[0072] FIG. 34 is a schematic view of a shade sail structure for large areas;

[0073] FIGS. 35 to 40 are schematic views of further alternative structures;

[0074] FIGS. 41 to 44 illustrate shade structure multiple-curved columns supporting two or more fabric layers at different heights;

[0075] FIG. 45 illustrates a range of alternative curved columns;

[0076] FIG. 46 is a schematic view of a house provided with different embodiments of the shade structures on all four sides;

[0077] FIGS. 47 and 48 are schematic drawings of a multi purpose fire fighting system.


[0078] FIG. 1 is an aerial view of a single story house with different types of shade sails attached around its perimeter. Shade sails are so called because their shape resembles the sails on boats, and they provide shade from the sun. Obviously it is not essential to construct all the shade sails around the entire perimeter of the house, nor is it essential to use the same polygon shade sail shapes, as depicted, to fall within the scope of the invention. The shade sails are preferably fabricated from shade cloth, being a porous, woven or knitted cloth, which allows air to pass through it, while it reflects the suns rays, to provide shade underneath it. Typically reflective values of shade cloth are measured as 60%, 70%, 80%, or 90%, which is a value of the amount of ultra violet (UV), which does not pass through the cloth. Of course the sails can be made of waterproof solid fabrics, however hot air is trapped underneath these fabrics, and they are therefore not as effective as shade cloth for shading. A most effective way of providing both shade and waterproofing is to use two sails, one on top of the other, preferably the shade cloth on top of the waterproof fabric, and preferably at least 300 mm apart. Also it is preferable to have sloped and tapered volumes between the sails to allow cooling convection currents to develop

[0079] In FIG. 1, the house 101 is surrounded by a row of columns 110. The columns may be metal, concrete or timber and often extend below ground level, set into a concrete filled hole. This type of footing is effective in providing the necessary bending moment restraint against the tension developed in the shade cloth when it is stretched between the column and fixing points on the house. Attachment to the house structure may also be continuous using a rope track or similar lied to the perimeter of the house. A concrete bored pier footing could also be used, pad footings, blade walls or any type of construction that develops sufficient bending moment restraint. The columns have at least one point of attachment for the sails, which can be at any height along the column.

[0080] Four-sided polygon sails 120 are shown attached to the eaves of the house along the two sides and the rear, and triangular sails 121 ar shown attached to eaves corners on the front of the house. Some of the sails 120 and 121 are shown as non-transparent hatched sails and some only as the perimeter edges, so that the overlapping nature of the sails can be seen. Attachment of the sails to the columns is preferably at different heights, as this provides air ventilation gaps-between the shades and is aesthetically pleasing. In the case of the triangular sails, tensioning between the three points of attachment of the sails develops a simple inclined flat plane, however tensioning of the four-sided polygon sails between a fix edge and two different height points on the columns develops a more complex twisted or warped plane. The fact that shade cloth, because of its woven or knitted construction can be deformed, out of square, in a flat plane, makes it ideal for complex warped or twisted shapes, without the need for complex three-dimensional patterns. Non-stretching solid fabrics require complex patterns for warped, twisted and curved shapes.

[0081] The columns 110 may also support fabric wall panels 123, which may be any shape and be integral with, or separate to the shade sails. More substantial columns 130 support a different type of shade sail 122 from curved horizontal arms 131 attached to the columns. A flat shade cloth panel with two straight edges (over the arms) and two curved or scalloped edges can be stretched between the arms and because of the stretchable nature of the cloth the panel will curve in two directions, one parallel to the arms and one at right angles to the arms. This cannot be achieved with a flat panel of solid fabric.

[0082] The existing awning and shade sail technology has failed to solve the problems of strengthening existing buildings to accommodate the additional wind loads generated by attaching extra roof areas to existing buildings. Obviously existing buildings are constructed using many different construction methods and materials, and therefore strengthening them will also require a wide range of methods and materials. These individual and non-standarised methods of strengthening will require individual design and subsequent high costs.

[0083] A real need exists for a standardised method to strengthen buildings where economies of scale will greatly reduce strengthening costs. This application discloses such a system to suit a wide range of building types.

[0084] One method of overcoming the need to strengthen the existing building is to provide a means to remove or reconfigure the shade sails to eliminate or substantially reduce the area exposed to the wind. Existing technology does not yet have a system to achieve this, which is safe in even moderate wind conditions. This application proposes a system to achieve the objectives of safe removal and/or reconfigured areas exposed to wind loads.

[0085] FIG. 1A shows alternative support methods for shade sails. In FIG. 1A horizontal or near horizontal facia extension beams 1A40 support the corners or edges of shade sails 1A20, 1A21, 1A22, 1A23 and 1A24. Shade sail 1A20 has one of it edges supported by the house eaves or facia and two of its corners by the ends of the beams 1A40, whereas shade sail 1A21 is supported only at its corners by the house eaves or facia and beam ends. Shade sail 1A22 is shaped to convert the existing gable end of the house to a hip end. Shade sails 1A23 are specialised shapes supported at their edges, corners and also internally by the facia extension beams. Shade sails 1A24 are supported by facias and facia extension beams at different story levels of the house.

[0086] In FIG. 1A it can be seen that facia extension beams may be either “in line” as an extension of the facia as in 1A40 or they may be at any location along the facia and at any horizontal angle to the house as in 1A41. The beams 1A40 and 1A41 may be supported at or near the house wall by columns 1A50. The beams 1A40 and 1A41 may also be tied down to the ground by tension cables 1A60 attached at their ends or at any point along them. The tension cables 1A60 maybe temporarily fixed, angled away from the vertical and fixed to footing 1A70. Preferably the footing would be a concrete bored pier and the cable would be a chain set into the footing. The beams 1A40 and 1A41 would preferably be integrated with or fixed to the house roof and/or wall framework.

[0087] FIG. 1B shows alternative support means for shade sails. Shade sails similar to those in FIGS. 1 and 1A are supported at their edges, corners, points along their edges and internally by extension end rafters 1B42, extension rafters 1B43, ridge beam extensions 1B44, hip rafter extension 1B45 and valley after extensions 1B46. Any of the sloped rafters 1B42, 1B43, 1B45 or 1B46 may be extended out to ground level as shown by rafter 1B47. Also tension cable 1B61 may be used to connect the existing house roof to ground. These cables 1B61 may serve a dual purpose of tying the existing roof down in high wind and also support shade sails. Tension cables 1B60 tie extension rafters and ridge beams to ground through footing 1B70. Tension cables 1B60 and 1B61 could also be solid tension/compression struts.

[0088] FIG. 2 is a sectional elevation A-A of the house and shade sails shown in FIG. 1. On the left hand side of FIG. 2, the shade sails are shown in their erected position and on the right hand side the shade sails are shown in their lowered, re-positioned or re-configured position.

[0089] The existing single story house has a frame 201, a floor 202 and perimeter strip or beam footing 203. These structural components could be different depending on construction materials, slope of the ground, height of the house, soil type, etc. Bracing walls to resist lateral racking have not been shown.

[0090] Columns 210 and shade sails 220 correspond to the columns 110 and shade sails 120 and 121 from FIG. 1. The columns are shown set into a bored pier concrete footing 211, however any type of footing may be used which will develop the bending moment restraint required. These could include driven pies of steel, timber or concrete, mass concrete gravity footings, beams, pads, blades or any other type of footing/foundation which suits the particular ground conditions. FIG. 2 also shows tie down anchor points 204 and 212 designed to resist calculated wind generated uplift forces, where again the type will depend on the size of the force and the ground conditions.

[0091] The shade sails 220 may be connected to a number of connection points or edges. The column 210 may have permanent fixing points attached to it by any convenient means, such as the upper point 230, intermediate points 231 and lower points 232. The connections are usually designed to include a turnbuckle or similar device, to allow the distance between the soil corner and column to be adjusted, which can be used to put tension in the sail and keep it taught. Also the column 210 may have a track 243 fixed to it, such as that disclosed in FIG. 3A, which allows corners of the shade sails to be moved and temporarily fixed at any height along the column. Fixing locations on and adjacent to the existing house include the ends of roof trusses or rope tracks fixed to the ends of roof trusses 233, where the rope track provides a continuous edge fixing as shown in FIG. 14. Other points are anywhere under the eaves and on top of the house walls 234, points at the house floor level 235, points 236 on the separate foundations 204 and points 237 on the separate foundation 212. A sail track 242, such as that disclosed in FIG. 3A may also be fixed to the house wall to allow temporary fixing of shade sail corners anywhere along that track.

[0092] On the left hand side of FIG. 2 thee shade sails 220 are shown to be supported between column high points 230, low points 231 on the next column and eaves connection edges 233 and this corresponds to the erected shade sails in FIG. 1. Where it is not required to be able to lower the shade sails, and the existing building needs strengthening to carry the extra loads generated by the shade sails temporary or permanent chains or cables 241 fixed between any point on the column and fixing point 237 can be used to assist the lateral restraint of the existing house and shade sails. This arrangement of shade sails stretched between various points on the column and various points on or adjacent to the house with or without chains 241 is the method used to reduce earthquake and high wind loads with the shade sails erected. The resilience of the columns and shade sails will be ideal to design an appropriate dampening force against the vibration style loads of earthquakes and the gusting loads of cyclones and hurricanes. Debris protection and wind shielding can be improved with the erected sail system by using permanent or deployable sidewalls between the columns as shown by sails 123 in FIG. 1

[0093] A more economical, more efficient and the preferred method of strengthening the existing building against cyclone and hurricane wind loads, reducing the wind loads on existing buildings and providing protection from flying inbound and outbound debris is shown on the right-hand side of FIG. 2. The shade sails have been lowered along their outside edges only, so as to form a protective net between the eaves line 233, and the ground 232. The shade sails also provide a structural connection between the roof of the existing building and the ground to resist lateral wind loads.

[0094] Deployment of the cable 240 between fixing points 234 or 233 and 232 or 237 adds further lateral restraint if required. The shade sails in their lowered position provide shielding of the existing building from wind loads by directing some of the wind up and over the existing structure. The shielding effect of the shade sails reduces wind loads on walls, windows and doors and in combination with debris protection will have a dramatic effect in reducing damage and breakage of windows and doors particularly. Also the shade sails 220 can be lowered, so that they span between the edge 233 and points 236 or 235.

[0095] Shade sails are usually fabricated with a strengthened edge around the whole perimeter of the sail. This can be achieved by folding over the edge into two or more thicknesses and sewing or welding together, by sewing or welding on an edge strip of stronger material such as set belt webbing or by inserting a synthetic or wire cable into an edge seam or pocket. To ensure that the strengthened edges pull all of the fabric taught, it is necessary to form an arc or curve into each edge (except where an edge is connected continuously to a straight building edge), the offset of the curve being preferably about one tenth of the span. These strengthened edges intersect and are joined together at the corners of the panels, and methods of strengthening these corners will be detailed later. From this it can be seen that the corners become the structural connection points for the shade sail panels, and together with the connection means on the house frame or columns, are critical in transferring wind load forces back to the ground.

[0096] The advantages of lowering the outside edge of the shade sail panels 220 are threefold from a structural engineering viewpoint. Firstly, the edge cables or edge strengtheners provide a direct tie down against wind generated uplift and racking on the house frame. Secondly, the shade sail fabric acts as a flying debris protection net particularly for windows and doors. Thirdly, the shape of the shade sails in their lowered position “deflects” some of the wind load over the house and “shields” the structure from direct exposure to the full wind load force.

[0097] Sail shades in their erected state will, of course, increase the wind load on an existing house frame and in their lowered state will decrease the wind load on existing house frames. One method of reducing the not wind load on a house structure generated by both the erected shade sails and the house area itself is to use tie down chains or cables 240, shown not in use on the left-hand side of FIG. 2, and stretched between the house frame and the column footing on the right-hand side of FIG. 2. These chains or cables together with sails ability to “break up” the wind stream and shield the house will have a net beneficial effect on the wind forces on the house, depending on the area of the sails. These cables or chains 240 may be used in conjunction with the sail shades in their erected or lowered positions.

[0098] Where it is not possible to use the full benefits of shade sails and their accessories to reduce wind loads on existing houses (such as larger shades generating high forces, or smaller shades not providing sufficient shielding) it is still possible, to supplement the load reducing benefits of sail shades by using steel rod tie downs 250, additional compression studs 251, blow out ceiling panels 252 and blow off roof panels 253. These blow out panels 252 and 253 reduce the pressure inside the house and reduce upwards loads on the ceiling and roof and outwards loads on the walls. All of the above details for shade sails also apply to two or more storey structures.

[0099] As stated under the descriptions for FIGS. 1 and 2, the problems that still exist with existing shade sail technology are the safe, controlled removal, relocation or reconfiguration of the sails and the reduction of wind loads imparted to existing buildings to which they are attached.

[0100] The methods described under FIG. 2 solve the problem of reducing or redistributing wind generated loads from shade sails, and in addition have provided solutions to problems not normally associated with extra shade/living area roof additions. Te problems include strengthening the existing building against damage caused by high wind cyclones and hurricanes and damage from earthquake loads. Also the lowered shade sails prevent the ingress and egress of flying debris.

[0101] One of the main objects of this invention is to extend the benefits of sail shades beyond that of protecting from the sun's rays, to include “cyclone proofing” a house. This second use of sail shades will have the economic benefit of getting two jobs for the price of one, i.e., no cost sail shades if you cyclone proof the house or no cost cyclone proofing if you install sail shades. This could well have an effect on the resale value of a house particularly if cyclone risk assessment influences finance approvals.

[0102] FIG. 2A is a cross-sectional elevation of the house shown in FIGS. 1A and 1B. On the left-hand side of FIG. 2A shade sails 2A20 are shown in their erected position fixed to the ends of after extensions 2A45 and facia extensions 2A40 and the eaves at 2A33.

[0103] The house frame 2A01, floor slab 2A02 and house footings 2A03 provide the stability for the eaves connections at edges or points 2A33. Strengthening can be achieved with columns 2A50. In FIG. 2A shade sails 2A20 may also be any of the shade sails from FIGS. 1, 1A and 1B, and their support points may also be any type from those Figures. Similarly tension cables 2A60 and 2A70 may also be any from FIGS. 1, 1A, and 1B.

[0104] On the right-hand side of FIG. 2A the shade sails are lowered either on their outside edge only by lowering by any suitable means down cable 2A60, or on both sides by also lowering down track 242. Both FIGS. 2 and 2A are representative to those skilled in the art of the many ways and means shade sails could be lowered from the erected state to their lowered state, wherein in their lowered state they provide strengthening of the existing structure against high wind load, earthquake loads and protection against inbound and outbound debris. Also the shade sails could be removed totally for seasonal purposes or on notification of high wind or cyclone. Usually when such notification is received strong winds already exist and the lowering mechanisms will need to be safe to lower the shade sails under wind loads.

[0105] The effectiveness of sail shades being accepted as real cyclone proofing will be determined by the ease of unskilled people being able to lower the sails in both calm and high wind situations. FIG. 3 shows one of a number of methods of doing this.

[0106] FIG. 3 is an aerial view of a steel column 310, which has a baseplate 312 fixed to its lower end. This baseplate is fixed to a concrete bored pier by means of bolts protruding from the bored pier, through the holes in the base plate and onto tensioning nuts. Alternatively, the column may be concrete or timber. A sail track 350 is fixed to the column using friction welded studs 361 or any other convenient means to concrete or timber columns. The said track is preferably C-shaped in plan view as shown in the sectional plan FIG. 3(a). Two chain pulley wheels 360 run on axles 361 fixed inside the sail track, preferably one near the top and one near the bottom. A handle 362 is used to rotate the lower pulley wheels, or an electric motor could be used for rotation of the lower pulley wheels, or an electric motor could be used for rotation of the lower pulley wheels 360. The handle could be removable. A reversible ratchet mechanism is preferably an integral part of the lower pulley wheels 360 and handle 362. This ratchet mechanism allows the lower drive pulley wheels to rotate in only one direction using one position of the ratchet and only the other direction using the second setting of the ratchet. An endless chain 370 connected between the upper and lower pulleys drives the upper pulleys from the lower pulleys. A sail or sails 320 are connected to the endless chain by a chain 371. Rotation of the handle 362 will cause the sail to be moved up or down depending on the ratchet setting. The lower sail in FIG. 3 is the same sail as the upper sail, simply shown in a different position part way up the column, to illustrate that the endless chain may pull out beyond the extent of the sail track. When the chain 371 reaches the pulley wheels 360 it will run over the second pulley wheel and be pulled down the other side, thus tensioning the sail against its attachments at its other corners. Similarly, if the sail is lowered so that the chain 371 winds under the lower second pulley 360, then the sail will be tensioned in its lowered position against its attachments at its other corners. To set the sail in a position other than the upper and lower position temporary pin 352 in the track will cause the chain to run over or under it and be tensioned. The tensioned positions of the sail in its upper and lower locations, is shown in FIG. 2. It is preferable to install separate sail tracks for each sail and shorter tracks can be used for sails, which do not extend to the full height of the column. Alternatively additional upper and lower pulley wheels could be installed in a single sail track for additional sails. The two upper and lower pulleys are preferably joined to each other, except that it may be found that the chains wind onto free ling second pulleys better.

[0107] FIG. 3 shows that these upper and lower pulley wheel sets 350 may move laterally on a spline axle 361 to allow the best alignment for the chain 370 when being raised or lowered as well as the best alignment of the chain 371 in relation to the opening in the sail track 350, when tensioning the sail. A sliding fairlead could also be run on the lips of the track around the chain 371. As an alternative to using a second pulley wheel for chain 371, if this second pulley wheel were omitted, the chain would simple wind over the axle 361. Also a single pulley wheel with two sized chains such that a larger sized chain 361 would lay down on top of the smaller chain 370 as the pulley was rotated. Rope or cable or flat seat belt webbing could also be used as an alternative to chain or combinations of rope and chain e.g., a chain for 370 and rope for 371. With seat belt webbing only one drum would be needed as the flat profile of the webbing 371 would simply wrap under or over the drum 360 or pin 352. Sail tracks could be installed as part of the original design of sail shades or they may be an essential feature of upgrading eking or under designed structures as required by regulatory bodies to allow the sale of properties with no illegal structures on them.

[0108] FIG. 3A shows an alternative two drum winch and sail track that has the added feature of the sail shades remaining taught at all stages of lowering, and the sail shades can be tensioned at any height up the column. In FIG. 3A a C-section sail track is fixed to a column (not shown). The sail track has a pin or roller 3A60 near its top end and an axle 3A61 near its lower end. The axe 3A61 has two cable drums 3A62 and 3A63 rotating on it. The axle 3A61 is either bent to form a handle 3A64 or a removable handle can be filed over or inside the axle. A carriage 3A72 preferably formed from steel rod pieces welded together is of a suitable size to allow it to run freely up and down the inside of the C-channel without the possibility of it jamming. The carriage 3A72 is raised and lowered by cable 3A71 that links the car to cable drum 3A63 over the pin or roller 3A60. A cable 3A70 links a sail shade 3A20 with cable drum 3A62 over a roller or pin in the carriage 3A72.

[0109] There are several methods of using the components as arranged in FIG. 3A. It is important to understand in FIG. 3 and in FIG. 3A that the distance from the end of the shade sail and the C-section varies depending on the height of the shade sail up the C-section and column. This is explained in detail in FIG. 3B. This variable distance has to be taken into account if the shade sail is to be its connections to the house and the C-section. In FIG. 3 this was achieved at the top and bottom locations by the chain 371 running over or under the pulley 360 and at any intermediate height by the chain running over or under the pins 352.

[0110] It can be seen from FIG. 3A that if both cable drums 3A62 and 3A63 were fixed to the axle 3A61 that the different distances of the sail 3A20 to the carriage 3A72 depending on the sail and carriages height up the column, would cause the combined cable lengths 3A70 plus 3A71 to be slack or not tensioned against the sails connections to the house at some height or heights up the column. To overcome this, the fist method of achieving tension in the sail at any height up the column is for either cable 3A70 or cable 3A71 or both to be capable of elongating under tension i.e., to be elastic or to have an elastic section within their length. This could be attained using stretchable or rubberised chord or by including a tension spring within their lengths. The effect of this would be that a predetermined tension force could be maintained in both cables, the small length difference between the sail and the carriage being compensated for by a small lengthening or shortening of the total of both cable lengths in the system, resulting from the elasticity of one or both cables. With this first system of operating the sail raising, lowering and supporting means it will be necessary to fix or lock the drums in place when the desired upper or lower or any mid-height position is selected. This could be done by inserting a pin through the holes in drum 3A63 and through corresponding holes in the C-section (not shown), or by restricting rotation of either or both drums by any suitable means.

[0111] A second method of maintaining tension in the shade sail 3A20 in the FIG. A system is to fix only one of the drums 3A62 or 3A63 to the axle 3A61. The non-fixed drum is allowed to freewheel on the axle and tension in the total combined length of the cables 3A62 and 3A63 is achieved by inserting a torsion spring between the two drums in such a fashion as to provide a force pushing one drum 3A62 clockwise against an anti-clockwise force in drum 3A63 (seen from the handle location). The small amount of lengthening or shortening in the combined total cable lengths is achieved by the freewheeling drum rotating to change this combined length, driven by the tension force created by the torsion spring. As with the first method of operation, a locking means is required to hold one or both drums at any selected position of the carriage and sail.

[0112] A third method for lowering and raising the sail shade is for the cable drum 3A63 to be spring loaded and freewheeling on the axle 3A60 such that the carriage is held up at the top of the C-channel. The other cable drum 3A62 is part of a brake winch operated by tem handle 3A64. To lower the shade sail rotation of the cable drum 3A62 will cause the carriage 3A72 to be pulled down against me spring force in cable drum 3A63, generated by the spring action between the cable drum 3A63 and the C-channel. With the carriage at any vertical position within the C-channel, it can be prevented from being pulled further downwards by temporarily locking the drum 3A63 to the C-channel using a pin through holes in the side wall of the drum and aligned holes in the C-channel flange. Continued rotation of the axle will allow the brake winch drum 3A62 to tension the sail shade against ft other supports while the cable drum 3A63 freewheels over the axle. The braking action of the brake winch 3A62 will keep the tension in the cable 3A70 until it is required to raise the sail, where rotating the handle 3A64 in the opposite direction will allow the spring action in cable drum 3A63 to raise the carriage. When the sail shade is then in its upper position the drum 3A63 can be locked off and rotating the handle in the opposite direction will tension the sail shade via the drum 3A62 and cable 3A70.

[0113] A fourth method of operation of FIG. 3A is to have cable 3A71 as an endless cable around drum 3A63 and roller pin 3A60 with the carriage 3A72 within the endless chain loop. The cable 3A70 could have elastic properties or have a tension spring within its length to maintain tension on the sail at any height. Clockwise rotation of the drums will lower the carriage by means of the endless chain and the tension in the cable 3A70 will be maintained by the cable itself or a tension spring acting between drum 3A62 and the C-channel.

[0114] In FIGS. 3 and 3A the carriage could be replaced by a proprietary sail track and travellers as used in yacht rigging for sails on masts, etc. This includes sail tracks and travellers as supplied by companies such as Ronstan International Pty Ltd.

[0115] FIG. 3B further explains the method of raising and lowering sail shades using the sail track 3B50 being the sail track 350 in FIG. 3 and sail track 3A50 in FIG. 3A. In FIG. 3B, the three drawings on the left show the sail 3B20 in its upper location (top left), partway down (centre left) and in its lowered position (bottom left). It will be seen that rotating the drum 3B62 will shorten the total length of the cable 3B70, between the eaves and the drum, which causes the carriage to be lowered and the cable length 3B71 to be lengthened. Note that with a column sloped at a predetermined angle the sail shade 3B20 becomes closest to the sail track when the cable 3B70 is at ninety degrees to it, however the total length of the cable, which includes the two component lengths, from the eaves to the carriage and the carriage to the drum always gets shorter as the carriage is lowered. This means that neither cable becomes slack during lowering, and therefore the sail is kept under constant tension, preventing it from excessive flapping when lowering under wind load. The three drawings on the right-hand side of FIG. 3B are plan views of the different stages of lowering of the sail shades we 120 from FIG. 1. The preferred sequence of lowering, although not the only one, is to lower the lower corners first, as shown marked L, where it can be seen that the length from the sail shade corner to the sail track will increase, in plan view as can be seen in the centre right drawing. When the high points marked H are also lowered, all corners of the sail shade are at a greater distance from the sail track, in plan view as can be seen in the bottom right view. This sequence may be varied to lower the high points first, down to the low point level and then lower the low points before the high points. With the triangular shades 121 in FIG. 1 and with non-overlapping shades this sequence is not necessary.

[0116] In FIG. 3B it is seen that different sail tracks are used for every sail corner. Using a side load resistant track and traveller as supplied by Ronstan International Pty Ltd one track for two or more sails could be used with one or more travellers. In other words two or more sails cold be supported by one traveller, and there may also be one or more travellers on any one track.

[0117] FIG. 3C shows a further alternative embodiment of the invention using two co-operatively acting load brake winches 3C80 and 3C81. The mechanisms of load brake winches are well known and may be learned from U.S. Pat. No. 4,456,227 where a handle attached to a cable drum is rotated in one direction to wind cable on to the drum, under load, and the load is prevented from reversing the drum and unwinding the cable by using a constantly engaged ratchet and pawl mechanism. An automatically engaged friction washer control mechanism is engaged on reverse rotation of the drum for controlled load dependent unwinding of the cable.

[0118] The novelty and inventive step in this application is to use one or more load brake winches, in combination with a cable rigging system that provides a raising, lowering and support means for shade sails. In FIG. 3C, two load brake winches similar to that in U.S. Pat. No. 4,456,227 are used in combination with the rigging, carriage, track and traveller systems of FIGS. 3 and 3A. By using two brake winches in FIG. 3C, it will be obvious to those skilled in the art that alternative ratchet and pawl mechanisms could be used on one or both winches to operate in different directions and could include a freewheeling position.

[0119] In FIG. 3C, a track 3C50 is fixed to a column 3C10. A pin or roller wheel 3C60 is fixed at the top of the track and the winches 3C80 and 3C81 rotate on their own separate axles. The axles for each winch drum may be at any location on the side wall of the C-channel provided the drive axle 3C61 is at a correct distance to drive the winch drum via the drum ring gear and toothed wheels 3C82. Alternatively, both drums 3C65 and 3C66 could be rotated on a common axle.

[0120] In FIG. 3C, bushes 3069 are fixed to the wall of the C-section and collars 3C84 are fixed to the axle 3C81. Toothed wheels 3C82 and friction washers 3C83 free to rotate around the axe 3C61. Pinions 3C85 are internally threaded to engage a thread formed on the axle 3C61 as shown. The drums 3C65 and 3C66 have teeth or a ring gear formed in one larger diameter wall of the drum to engage in teeth on the pinion 3C85. The toothed wheels 3C82 engage with teeth on the ratchet and pawl mechanisms 3C67 and 3C68.

[0121] From the sectional elevation of FIG. 3C, it can be seen that if the axle 3C61 is rotated in a clockwise direction the pinion 3C85 on winch 3C80 will move laterally to the left and the friction washers will bear or tighten on the wall of the toothed wheel 3C82 thereby engaging the ratchet and pawl 3C67. Simultaneously, the pinion 3C85 on winch 3C81 will move to the left and disengage from the ratchet and pawl 3C08 and the drum 3C66 will be allowed to freewheel rotate under the load of the sail tension. This causes the pinion to move to the right and engage the friction washers to act as a brake between the drum 3C66 and the ratchet 3C68. Winding the handle counter clockwise, the winch 3C81 acts to position the sail via cable 3C70 and the winch 3C80 acts as a brake against the force in cable 3C71.

[0122] With respect to FIG. 3C, the existing stake of the art when using two cable drums driven by one winch or drive axle is represented by U.S. Pat. No. 4,029,297 where any disparity in length of the two separate cables is adjusted by means of a dis-engagable linkage. In FIG. 3C this dis-engageable linkage is replaced with the disengaging mechanism 3C90 which is a much simpler mechanism. This disengaging mechanism 3C90 could be similar to any of the slip clutch mechanisms in U.S. Pat. No. 6,026,536 such that at a predetermined load caused by the disparity in the cable lengths 3C70 and 3C71 one drum is momentarily disconnected from the other to allow a drum rotation that corrects the length disparity. The dis-engaging mechanism 3C90 could also be designed to disengage one winch form the other by, for example, lateral movement of one handle with respect to the other. Alternatively 3C90 may simply be a support means between separate independent axles which allows one which to rotate independently of the other, where the drums may or may not be fixed to the separate axles. Also 3C90 could be designed as a torsional helix spring driving the two drums into opposing rotational directions to accommodate the cable length disparity similar in operation to that described under FIG. 3A.

[0123] It will be obvious to those skilled in the art that the descriptions given for the embodiments detailed under FIG. 3C are not limiting to the applications of this two drum winch and the two drum winch so described could also be used in conjunction with any other drawing figure to this patent application.

[0124] FIGS. 3A, 3B and 3C show methods of safe, easy and controlled relocation or lowering of shade sails. In FIG. 3 this involves a novel pulley mechanism that allows the connecting cable to the shade sail to run over the pulley, thus allowing a tension to be exerted on the shade sail after it reaches its erected height. In FIGS. 3A and 3B a novel winch, preferably with two independent drums, allows the shade sail to be positioned and tensioned at any height up the column.

[0125] FIG. 4 is an elevation end now showing lifting/lowering means for frame for the awnings. In FIG. 4(a) the mechanical or electro mechanical means 417 to raise and lower the beam 416 are close to ground level and may therefore include hand operated rams or jacks. The ram or jack 417 is preferably connected between the column 410 at or near ground level and at a location along be beam 416 so as not to impose greatly on the free space under the shade sails (not shown) attached to the beam 416. A connector or vibration buffer 418 may be provided between the columns 410 and the existing house to strengthen it against high wind or earthquake. In FIG. 4(a) the left hand side shows the beams in their erected position and the right hand side shows their lowered position.

[0126] FIG. 4(b) shows alternative positions for rams and jacks associated with two or more stormy construction. On the left-hand side upper and lower beams 416 may be interconnected at their ends and raised, lowered or supported by the operation of one or both rams or jacks 417 as shown. On the right-hand side the operation the rams or jacks may be positioned as shown to allow a greater degree of independency to raise or lower the upper beams. However on the right-hand side the raising or lowering of the upper beams could be achieved by positioning the upper rams or jacks as shown in the dotted lines, this is simply two FIG. 4(a) arrangements at different levels. Also in FIG. 4(b) the upper ram or jack on the right-hand side could be replaced with a simple fixed length connection so that operation of the lower ram or jack raises of lowers all beams at any number of levels. In FIG. 4(b) the lowered positions of the beams are shown by the centre line trajectory of their ends.

[0127] In FIG. 4(a &b) (top and bottom) it is possible to eliminate the columns 410 altogether as shown at 4(b) by connecting the beam ends to the house roof and the lower ends of the rams or jacks to a house footing or separate footing. One preferable use of the operable beams 416 is to use them in conjunction with fabric shade sail constructions as shown in FIG. 5, particularly the barrel vault style of geometry as provided by the use of members 580, 581, 582, 583. The intermediate beams 582 in this case would not be powered but simply hinged at the roofline and raised by the connection of member 583. All the rams or jacks in FIG. 4 could be remote controlled and or activated.

[0128] FIG. 5 shows various types of shade sail supported by one set of columns erected close to the roof perimeter or eaves. The columns and/or beams which make up the frames may be connected to and supported or partially supported by the house frame, or they may be independent of the house frame because they are not connected in any way to it, or the frame may be connected to the house frame and partially support or stiffen the house frame. These three different types of construction are referred to respectively as “attached”, “independent”, and “supportive” and these three types of construction may apply to “columns only” construction or “frame” construction. These three types of construction may also apply to sails, which are fixed in an erected position, or movable or lowerable sails. InFIG. 5 at the back left hand side of the drawing cantilevered beams or arms 580 support sail shade type 520. The central said shade type 521 on the left-hand side is supported by the beams or arms 580 and an additional beam 581. The sail shade type 522 on the front left hand side of the house is known as a “barrel vault” shade, by virtue of the shape of its frame support consisting of the two end cantilevered arms 580, a beam 583 spanning between the end arms, and a number of curved arches 582 sitting on the beam 583 and connected to the house frame 501. Along the front of the house columns 610 support cantilevered beams or arms 584 which in turn support triangular shade sails type 525. In some cases the ends of the arms 584 connect to the ends of other arms 584 to impart lateral stability to the frame. Along the right hand side of the house the frames consist of preferably freestanding cantilevered arches 585 which support shade sails type 524. These arches could be factory cast or cast “insitu” concrete slabs supported in or on a concrete footing. The second storey sails are similar to the sails 520, and of course could be any of the other types. The beam types 580, and 584 could be hinged at their connection points to the columns in any traditional way that allows lowering of the outside ends of the beams to provide support to the house, in high winds, similar to FIG. 4.

[0129] FIG. 6 shows a number of different frame types, which are supported by two sets of columns, an inner set 610 and an outer set 615. As in FIG. 5 the inner row of columns may be “attached”, “independent”, or “supportive” and the frames formed by the columns and/or the beams may be complimentary to those functions in relation to the house 601. In the back left hand corner of the drawings a shade sail type 626 consists of lower diagonal support cables 630, upper diagonal cables 631 and a central vertical support strut 632. The shade sail is tensioned or made taught by extending the central support strut. The perimeter of the sail 625 may be a solid beam member a cable or truss, which will determine the pattern for the shade. The shade sail 625 and its support members may be lowered down sail tracks as in FIGS. 3 and 3(c). The sail shade shown in the central section on the left hand side of the house is preferably a square or rectangular shade sail 626 which also may have solid beam members a cable or truss around its perimeter. This shade sail may also be lowered using sail tracks as in FIG. 3 to 3(c). A vertical infill shade or panel 627 may be used in conjunction with shade sails 625 and 826 where the inner column set needs to be higher than the roof eaves. The sail shade 628 shown at the front left hand corner of the house is supported by at least one arched beam member 633, and the shade sail may also be lowered on sail tracks. Stressed fibreglass pultrusions have been found to be suitable for members 633. Full height fabric walls 634 and part walls 635 may be used in conjunction with any of shade sails 625, 628 or 628 and the fabric walls may also be lowered using sail tracks. The fabric walls may include fabric windows and dooms. The fabric walls could of course be integral with the fabric sails and lowered using common sail tracks. The lowering devices may be any of those described in this application or any other means. The use of fabric “shade sail walls” dramatically increases the amount of shade provided, particularly in the early morning and late afternoon and the walls themselves may be used in a similar fashion to roll up blinds. They also provide a debris barrier in high wind. The use of walls in combination with the shade sail roof panels to form temporary or permanent rooms is a logical extension of the awning function provided by shade sails described previously. In one embodiment of shade sail 626, the sail is integral with a wall 634 and is supported over a beam running between the two outer columns. The ends of the beam are fixed to the endless chain in sail tracks as in FIG. 3, 3A, or 3C so that lowering the beam lowers the sail shade and the wall panel.

[0130] Where it is desired to convert the extra roof area as described previously under FIGS. 1 to 5 into room space, fabric or more rigid walls can be added as disclosed for FIGS. 6. This will provide additional wind and sun protection, which is easily and safely installed and removed. This may be for the seasonal exclusion of wind or low angle sun and heat or to simply redesign the house layout. Walls without the need for support floors are disclosed in FIG. 6.

[0131] In FIG. 6 on the right hand side the advantages of overlapping preferably triangular shade sails can be seen. Shade sails 621 are supported between the inner columns 610 and the outer columns 615. In FIG. 6 it can be seen that there are four shade sails supported within the front and corner squares and three within the side square. This provides interesting aesthetics, ventilation gaps and promotes heat induced convection and radiation air movement to cool the area under the shade sails. This style of shade sail, raising, lowering and support means is also relevant to FIGS. 3, 3A, 3B and 3C.

[0132] FIG. 7 shows a house 701, which has a number of internal columns 710, and a number of external columns 716 spaced around it. The internal columns 710 are spaced apart at distances suitable to support a deep steel or concrete beam 730 immediately adjacent to the roof perimeter. The spacing of the internal columns will be able to be larger than previously shown. A steel beam would preferably be a C- or an I-shape. The size and location of this beam 730 makes it ideal to act as a strengthener or stiffener for the existing house and house frame. On the left hand side of the house, a three dimensional truss is made up of beam or strut members 731, and is supported by the beam 730 and the external columns 715. This three dimensional truss system will also give lateral stability to the beam 730 and the truss geometry is very suited to supporting two fabric skins, preferably one solid and one porous. Around the front of the house me external columns have been omitted and the beams or struts 731 are cantilevered off the beam 730 to form a support system for sail shades. On the right hand font of the house tapered beams 732 are cantilevered off the main beam 730 to also form a support system for shade sails, and struts 733 are used to define and support the perimeter of the sails. On the right hand side of the house an external beam 734 is supported between two external columns 716. A two-dimensional or three-dimensional truss is formed using members 734 spanning between internal beams 730 and external beam 734. These buss members provide lateral stability to the beams 730 and 734 as well as support for shade sails. Any of the beams could be holed to reduce weight and improve aesthetics.

[0133] FIG. 8 shows a method of using an external track or beam to assist in raising and lowering the shade sail. Column 530 has an I-shaped beam 831 attached to it by any suitable means. The I-beam has a pulley wheel 832 attached to its top and a pulley wheel and handle 833 attached to its lower end. The pulleys engage endless chain 834. The endless chain 834 is attached to the top and bottom of a slide 835. A separate chain or rope 836 runs through a ring 837 fixed to the slide and is attached to the shade sail 820, the lower end of the rope 836 is engaged with cleat 838. To raise the sail shade 820 the slide is positioned anywhere along the column and the rope 836 is pulled to raise and tension the shade then is tied off to the cleat 838. To lower the shade sail the slide is lowered using the pulley wheel and handle 833 and then pulling on rope 836 tensions the shade sail to the lowered slide. To assist the lowering of the shade in high wind cleat 838 could be a “brake” winch or chain 834 and rope 836 could be temporarily clamped to each other at appropriate positions, which would cause the endless chain to drag the rope and attached shade sail down with it. The slide could be made of a low friction plastic to slide up and down the column without the need for wheels or rollers or the slide may incorporate small wheels to run on both sides of the loam flanges as shown in the sectional plan. In this case the slide is referred to as a trolley, running external to the column.

[0134] FIG. 8 discloses a slider for connection between a sail and a sail track, which in one embodiment uses wheels or bearings mounted inside the slider, to run between the slider and track to reduce friction. Also the slider acts as a protective cover over the wheel/track interface.

[0135] FIG. 9 shows the use of telescoping poles to raise and lower shade sails, with all the protective features that accompany the structural and other benefits of lowered shades. On the left-hand side of the drawing a column 910 is shown in its lowered position and on the right-hand side three sections have been telescoped out in this drawing three separate sail shades 920 are attached, one to each telescoping section, however it is possible to attach more than one or none to each section. Each telescoping section provides a different height for sail attachment and the advantage of this can be seen in FIGS. 1 and 2 where different shade sails are connected at different heights on the one column to give the desired geometry of the total project. The poles or columns may be telescoped by any suitable means such as cables as in crane jibs or water pressure in sealed sections. By using a combination of inclining the telescoping pole and adjustment of turnbuckles 921 it is possible use the telescoping of the pole ea the means of tensioning the sail shades against their other connection points. This is achieved by making the distance from the eaves to the telescoped pole larger than the distance from the eaves for the lowered pole. Alternatively any other tensioning means can be used.

[0136] FIGS. 10 to 12 show some variations on the construction of the shade sails themselves. In FIG. 10 on the left-hand side the conventional method of constructing shade sails is shown. Columns 1010 has a shade sail 1020 attached to it by means of turnbuckles 1011. One end of the turnbuckle is fixed to the column and the other end is fixed to the corner 1021 of the shade sail. The corners 1021 of the shade sail 1020 are strengthened to transfer wind loads from the sail fabric to the turnbuckles. This is usually done by sewing in or welding in additional layers of fabric of the same or different material and in some cases metal plates are used to increase the strength. The edges 1022, are also usually reinforced by folding over the cloth to form a double or multi layer by sewing or welding. In some cases an additional strip of higher strength material is sewn or welded around the edges and a steel or rope cable can be inserted within the sewn seam. Experience has shown that to keep the central area of the shade cloth stretched and non-sagging, the edges need to be arcs of a circle, where the offset distance of the arc at its centre is equal to at least one tenth of the distance between the sail corners. Experience has also shown that the length of the turnbuckles and their fixings and the arc shape of the edge dramatically reduces the shade sag are available between the columns. On the right-hand side one method of increasing the shade sail areas is shown using a different type of corner and a different type of shade. The same columns 1010 and turnbuckles 1101 are used to support the shade sail type 1023. The corners of shade sail type 1023 have a short strong preferably metal member 1024 forming another edge at the corner. Edges of the sail shade 1023 are run straight between the ends of the metal edge 1024 and an arc shaped fabric strengthening web 1026 is also sewn or welded into the shade sail between the metal edge ends. The function of keeping the central area of the shade sail fabric tight is done by the web strengthener 1026 with the fabric segment between 1025 and 1028 providing extra shade area. The web strengthener 1026 could also have been constructed initially as an edge and the fabric segment and edge 1025 added later. It has been found that seat belt webbing as used in car seat belts is an ideal material for the stiffener 1026 and 1025. The combination of the extra edge at the corners and the straightened edge on the sail perimeter greatly increase the shade sail area and therefore the effectiveness or economics of the sail. Both shade sail types 1020 and 1023 are drawn with the turnbuckle ends fixed to the columns, which means they have to be tensioned with the shade sail in its erected position, however either of the shade sails could be lowered by using any of the lowering columns or methods disclosed in this specification.

[0137] FIG. 11 shows two methods of reducing wind loads on the shade sails without the need to lower then. In FIG. 11 a shade sail 1120 has a folded corner 1121 with a central section removed. The shade sail 1120 also has a separate removable section 1122 held in place with “Velcro” strip edges on both the hole in the shade sail and the separate section 1122. An edge bar or dew bar 1130 is made up of two similar metal pieces 1131, each piece having a circular flat section cast or formed integrally with a rod or cylindrical section. The flat circular sections of each piece have a central hole, and the two pieces are joined by a bolt or rivet 1132, through the holes in both pieces. There is also at least one other smaller aligned hole in each of the flat section through which a shear pin or pins 1133 is inserted. The edge bar 1130 sits inside the folded corner 1121 with the circular flat sections of 1130 protruding through the central opening in the folded corner. A chain or turnbuckle end (not shown) is also connected to the bolt 1132 to form a shade sail corner similar to the one in FIG. 10(b). FIG. 11(b) is a sectional elevation showing the arrangement of parts. Pressure reduction on the shade sails and therefore force reduction on the corner, turnbuckle and column is preferably executed in two stages. Firstly, the central section 1122 would blow out at a predetermined wind speed, the hole so formed reducing the pressure. Secondly, the shear pins 1133 would shear through allowing the cylindrical parts of the pieces 1131 to move towards each other, rotating about the central bolt 1132. This would cause the sail shade 1120 to disengage from the edge bar at a predetermined load. In both stages of pressure reduction only the lightweight sail sections 1122 and 1120 are released to that heavy metal pieces are not flailing in the wind. Each method of pressure reduction could be used on its own and the released central fabric section or release shade sail could be separately retrained from blowing away to an unknown location.

[0138] In FIGS., 10 and 11, a method of distributing increased forces at a sail corner is shown. This method also has the benefit of increasing the sail area and does not require wasteful overlapping of the sail cloth fabric. In practice, this method of dealing with increased or concentrated loads at shade sail corners has been found to be easy to manufacture and very economical.

[0139] FIG. 12 shows the use of patterns in shade sails to achieve three dimensional surfaces (or hypars). From FIG. 1 it can be seen that the three-sided triangular sail shades form a flat surface, irrespective of the relevant heights of the three corners, and in the case of the four-sided sail shades, the relevant heights of the corners may dictate a three-dimensional curved surface pattern is required to ensure the sail surface is evenly stressed. As explained for FIG. 1, the use of stretchable fabrics such as shade cloth allows that patterns need not be developed to generate three dimensional surfaces, where the relevant height differences are within certain limits. The surfaces generated in the four-sided sails in FIG. 1 using shade cloth can be considered as a twisted flat plane, or as a three dimensional surface, self generated as a result of shear deformation in the cloth. If, however, solid fabric was to be used in the four-sided sails in FIG. 1, then a cutting pattern would have to be developed to generate the three-dimensional surface, even with very little relevant differences in corner height. Similarly, the shade sail 1221 is a logical extension of the flat sail 121 in FIG. 1, where an extra corner and extra edge have been added to smoothly integrate or morph in a vertical or near vertical wall section. This integration will require pattern generation to produce a smooth aesthetic three-dimensional transition in solid fabrics, and will also certainly be in excess of the limits of stretchability or deformation of shade clot, to produce a smooth transition without pattern generation. This can be seen from the pattern lines on the sail. Similarly, the pattern lines on sail 1220 show that pattern generation is required to add an extra corner and edge compared to sail shade 120 in FIG. 1 to produce a smooth five-sided sail 1220 in FIG. 12. Obviously additional corners and edges could be added, to either shade sail to give multi-sided shade sails with smooth three-dimensional shapes generated from two-dimensional patterns. The major advantage of integrating wall sections in sail shades is that this dramatically incases the sails ability to generate shade in the early morning and late afternoon and greatly reduce scattered UV, under the sail In FIG. 12, to further show the shape of the integrated three dimensional surface, it can be described in sail shade 1220, that a line joining point a to the middle of side cd will be a convex curve, and the line joining points b and e will be concave, when viewed from the top as in the drawing. The actual shape of these curves will depend on the two-dimensional cutting pattern. Similarly, line a to c in sail shade 1221 will be convex and b to d will be concave. The columns could extend through holes in the shade sail as in FIG. 25.

[0140] FIGS. 13 to 15 are variations of shade sail types, including the materials used, methods of construction, their uses and specific benefits. They may all be considered as being relevant to being installed to replace shade sails 120 and 121 in FIG. 1, or in any other location as disclosed in this application.

[0141] FIG. 13 is a double skin shade sail joined preferably around all of its edges. Each skin may be solid or shade cloth and the skins are separated by foam packers as shown. In drawing FIG. 13, a central scion of the shade sail 1320 has been removed to show the upper skin 1324 and lower skin 1325 and packer 1326. Cables 1370 tension the two skins between the house roofline and columns 1315, which pulls the two skins together. Separation of the two skins by the packers provides additional skin stressing to reduce shade sail flapping noise and other unwanted movement under wind load. Any type or raising, lowering and support systems as disclosed in this application may be used and if two solid skins were used they could be designed as an inflatable shade sail. Any type and shape of packer could be used and also an inflatable shade sail could be designed as a quilted construction to reduce depth. Either the two skin packed shade sail or the inflated shade sail will provide protection to the house in its lowered position.

[0142] FIG. 14 shows a shade sail 1420 hingedly attached to a roofline edge of the house 1401. The other three edges of the shade sail are a stressed frame 1480. The edge adjacent to the roofline may also be part of the frame. The frame members 1480 are “sprung in” during manufacture so that the induced bending moment in them combined with the degree of elasticity or “spring” in the material used stresses the attached shade cloth of any other fabric. The frame members could be fibreglass pultrusions, aluminium extensions, pressed spring steel or any other material with a suitable spring constant. The frame and shade sail could be supported by cables 1470 and lowered by any suitable means.

[0143] The fabric could be shade cloth, stainless steel mesh, chain mail or any other suitable fabric. Suitable fabrics will provide diagonal bracing to the frame and two skins could be packed apart as in FIG. 13. Using stainless steel mesh overcomes any fire rating deficiencies of polymer cloths. Various means to “respring” the frame if the fabric stretches could be employed. The frame and cloth function as a rigid composite panel and therefore the majority of lateral force on the column is eliminated if the cables 1470 are relatively short.

[0144] The frame members and fabric connection means may be as in the enclosed section, top right, where a rope sewn into the sail edge is inserted longitudinally into the formed C-shaped part of the structural section. The structural time member could also be an open section with an integral rope track as in ge centre right drawing or the edge frame could simply be a pipe or tube in a said edge pit or seam.

[0145] FIG. 15 shows shade sails adjacent to a house 1501 where the shade sails are supported by upper and lower beams that overlap in plan view. A row of columns 1515 surrounds the house and the beams 1540 are hingedly connected to the house and connected to the columns so that the column end may be lowered. One embodiment of this shade sail is to design the outer ends of the beans in an alternate high and low elevation (indicated by a capital H or L). This provides support for the upper shade sail skin 1524 at two high and two low corners and for the lower shade sail skin 1525 a three high corners and one low corner. The shade sail skins may also be connected at their edge to the roofline or have their edges scalloped and reinforced with cables, seams or webbing.

[0146] As shown the shade sail 1524 is supported by a high-high beam, two high corners and two low corners. Shade sail 1525 is supported by a high-low beam, three high corners and one low corner. Double skin shades in basic tetrahedron shapes may be used. The outside edges, outside corners and edges of the shaft sail and the outside ends of the beams may be lowered partially or to ground level to protect the existing house from high wind or earthquake damage.

[0147] FIG. 16 shows two examples of independent shade sails which are very suited to remote locations away from existing structures. In the top drawing, a shade sail 1620 is supported by at least three columns 1610, which are rotating columns. In the drawing, the shape of the shade sail is basically four triangles with curved sides joined along adjacent sides. The corners of the sail shade may be connected to the fixed or rotating con of the columns. To lower the shade for repair or removal the upper sections of the columns are rotated. Support wires, ropes or cables 1621 are used to support and lift the apex of the shade and the length of these may be adjusted whilst one or more of the columns are in the lowered position. All edges of the shade sail may be reinforced with cables sewn in webbing or additional fabric layers. The lower drawing in FIG. 16 shows a shade sail 1622 supported by at least three telescoping columns 1611 as shown in FIG. 9. With only three sides, the shade sail will be flat, however with four or more sides the shade sail will be a three-dimensional surface, requiring patterns as explained under FIG. 12. Both types of shade sail can, of course, be supported by any type of column and/or lowering device contained in this specification and both types of shade sail may be constructed as double layer or multi layer fabric skins.

[0148] FIG. 17 shows shade sails which are supported internally by a beam in addition to being supported at their corners,

[0149] In FIG. 17(a) on the left-hand side, columns 1710 support beams 1770. Preferably, two opposite columns are high (H) and the other two columns are low (L). The beams supported by these opposite columns will therefore be correspondingly high or low. A shade sail skin 1724 is supported by the high beam as shown and tensioned to the two high corners and two low corners. A shade sail 1725 is supported by the lower beam as shown and tensioned also to the two high corners and two low corners. The two skins are also joined along their corresponding edges (which are scalloped) and therefore the two skins will form a three-dimensional enclosed space, which is basically a tetrahedron with curved edges. Each skin only needs to be a flat square or rectangle with scalloped edges provided the beam does not deflect excessively. Each skin may be shade cloth (stretchable) or solid fabric. Where the lower skin only is solid, a system for discharging the rainwater collected will need to be considered. Sloping the lower beam in one direction would achieve a water discharge point at one end. Variations to the basic concept in FIG. 17 will be readily apparent to those skilled in the art, e.g., to use triangular or hexagonal shapes (three beams) and the beams may be lowered and raised as disclosed elsewhere in this application. Single skins could also be used and the enclosed space could be packed with insulation foam or similar.

[0150] FIG. 17(b) right is the same as FIG. 17(a) left except that the beams are cantilevered beyond the columns. To do this, the lower skin needs to be holed or sit to go around the lower columns.

[0151] FIG. 18 shows variations of FIG. 17 and also are preferably double skin shade sails in a basic tetrahedron shape.

[0152] In FIG. 18(a) on the left-hand side, two long columns 1810 support a cable, chain or belt 1840 and two short columns 1810 support another cable, chain or belt 1841. An upper shade sail skin 1824 is supported by the cable 1840 and tensioned to the two high and two low corners. The lower shade sail skin 1825 is supported by the cable 1841 and tensioned to the two high and two low corners. All of the shade sail edges are scalloped and the adjacent edges of the two skins are preferably joined, thus forming a basic tetrahedron shape where all the edges are curved. The tension in the cables and the pattern of the skins will determine the amount of separation between the skins and the amount of enclosed insulative space (which could be filled with insulative foam). Where the difference in height between the high and low columns is relatively small and both skins are stretchable as with shade cloth, the skin pattern might be a simple square or rectangle with scalloped edges. When the distance between the two skis is zero allowing the cables to touch the two skins morph to form a single skin hypar geometry. This type of shade sail could be termed a concave tetrahedron or double skin hypar or separated hypar.

[0153] FIG. 18(b) on the right-hand side is a shade sail that uses two curved compression struts 1842 (upper) and 1843 (lower) to support respectively the upper skin 1824 and the lower skin 1825. In the shade sail structure on the right-hand side, the beams could be cantilevered beyond the columns. The shade sail structure on the right-hand side of FIG. 18 could be known as a convex tetrahedron.

[0154] FIG. 19 shows a shade sail made up of multi layers of triangular sails. In FIG. 19 four columns 1910 each have three connection points for the shade sails at different levels. The three different levels are low (L), medium (M), and high (H). In FIG. 19 there are eight triangular sails 1921 all of flat triangular shape and they overlap and join to the columns as shown. There is preferably a ratio or relationship between the number of columns, number of heights for connection and number of shade sails. For triangular structures, the ratio would be 3-2-6, for square structures (as drawn) the ratio is 4-3-8, five-sided 5-4-10, six-sided 6-5-12 etc. The ratios vary if other than three-sided sails are used, i.e., for four-sided sails the ratio might become 5 columns, 5 heights and 10 sails (5-5-10). Of course it is possible to have any number of columns, any number of heights, and any number of different shaped shade sails whilst still falling within the novelty of FIG. 19. The sails could be shade cloth or solid fabrics. This type of shade sail structure might be known as a “double decker”, “triple decker” or sandwich shade. Various prop arrangements could be used at the centre of the sails to separate them to reduce noise and control ventilation. Any or all of the shade sails could be raised, lowered or supported at the columns by any of the methods disclosed in this application. In one embodiment all the sails could be lowered over a swimming pool as a safety cover. In another embodiment, the sails as shown in FIG. 19 could be used in conjunction with the curved columns as in FIGS. 27 and 29.

[0155] FIG. 20 is a multi support point three-dimensional curved shade sail. In FIG. 20 two larger end columns 2010 and three smaller columns 2015 on each side support a shade sail 2024 and vertical end panels 2025. The connection of the shade sail and end wall panels to the columns is by any suitable means, but preferably by one of the means in this application which allows raising, lowering and supporting the sails. The columns may be temporary or permanent and there may be any number on each end and down each side. The shade sail fabric may be shade cloth or stretchable fabric or solid fabric and it could be designed as a double skin. The corners of the shade sail may be lowered as low as ground level and the shape of the shade sail may be inverted by having high connection points on the sides and low connection points on the end columns. Preferably, the shade sail edges are reinforced with cables or seams or webbing and the large internal curved face is also preferably sub-divided into triangles by attaching reinforcing webbing or cables. This type of shade sail is particularly suited to larger independent areas over tennis or basketball courts, etc. Obviously, the whole shade sail can be removed for repair or for seasonal reasons.

[0156] FIG. 21 is an alternative multi support shade sail structure erected over a swimming pool. Columns 2110 surround the pool at convenient locations. The shade sail structure 2123 is preferably made up of scalloped edge triangular sections 2124 joined together along edges 2131, which may also be reinforced with a cable, chain or webbing. The shape of the pitched triangles is maintained by the struts 2132 supporting one or more apexes. The struts 2132 are in turn supported at their base by cables 2130 spanning between column supports. The whole structure can be lowered using any of the methods in this application. The columns may be strengthened by cables 2134 tied to footings 3112. The whole shade sail structure could be designed for coordinated remote controlled lowering on one side only to be effective against early morning or late afternoon sun, or it could be lowered to ground level as a safety cover.

[0157] All of the embodiments of FIGS. 17 to 21 can use curved columns.

[0158] FIG. 22 shows various attachment points suitable for shade sails. In FIG. 22 a house or house frame 2201 has a central second storey section and has an external set of columns 2210 around it. These columns may be any type as described in this text. The location points suitable for attachment of sail shades and testing cables may be, but are not limited to, external first floor eaves corner 2211, internal first floor eaves 2212, first floor eaves line 2213, and anywhere on the underside surface of the eaves or soffit 2214. As the locations become higher anywhere on the first storey ridge 2215, anywhere on the first storey tresses 2216, anywhere at the second story floor level 2217, the second story eaves level 2218 and the second storey ridge level 2219. Selection of the most appropriate points of attachment can have a dramatic effect on the efficiency of the existing structure to carry additional sail shade loads and also serve to divert the air stream flow up and over existing roofs.

[0159] It will be noted that the shade sails may extend over the existing roof cladding to both improve aesthetics/home value and reduce cooling costs.

[0160] FIG. 23 shows an exo-skeleton reinforcing structure, which may also be used to support shade sails. In FIG. 23, a house 2301 has four column/legs 2310 spaced around it, preferably one on each side. The column/legs are designed to have high mass and are therefore preferably factory or site cast concrete. Because of their I-beam shape as shown, the large base area acts as a footing for these gravity column/legs. There should be no need for additional footings below the I-shaped column/legs 2310. Larger sized column/legs or extended column/legs as shown in dashed line at the front left-hand corner of the house are preferred to installing footings below the column/legs. There is significant cost saving in bedding the column/legs just below ground level, particularly in hard ground or rock. The column/legs 2310 support substantial concrete beams or slabs 2340 to surround the house preferably at eaves level. The column legs could be placed in a two front and two back arrangement or two side and two side arrangement as an alternative to FIG. 23, and the side beams could also be eliminated if the column/legs had sufficient stability in a front to back direction to support front and rear beams only. The extended column/legs as shown on the front right-hand side would assist in this. The four column/legs and four beams in FIG. 23 can be compared to a table where the bending moment restraint at the column/leg to beam connection prevents racking of the total structure. This connection in the drawing is represented by four bolt holes at each connection to develop bending moment restraint. This bending moment restraint combined with the mass of the column/legs and beams will be an economical method to strengthen the existing house.

[0161] The preferred flat beam geometry provides a wide eaves in itself and may also be used as a base for shade sail 2322, supported also by struts 2380 or as a support for any other type of shade sail. For two or more storey structures the column/legs may be stacked one on top of the other and then the beams could also double as balcony extensions. The column/legs could also be fabricated in the form of a cube with hollow shelter space inside. The column/legs and beams could be used as an independent structure to support shade sails. In FIG. 23, the major benefits are no footings, house strengthening, putting the eaves back and fixing points for shade sails.

[0162] FIG. 24 is also an alternative exoskeleton structure, which can be used to support shade sails. In FIG. 24, a house 2401 has an exo-skeleton façade frame 2430 constructed adjacent to its frontage and part way down each side. This retro fitted framed façade functions as a multi purpose protection system and support system for shade sails attached to it. In addition to that, the depth of the façade frame offers excellent potential to improve the aesthetics of the building and add value. Furthermore, shade sails attached to the façade frame will also improve aesthetics and value and the shade sails 2421 erected between the facade and columns 2415 can be designed to be permanent or they may be lowered as in FIG. 2 to increase the strength of the existing house.

[0163] Preferably, the new framed façade will be constructed of steel members, which may also be used as a lightning protective cage. The façade frame provides fixing points for wall and eaves cladding, door and window recessing and could be used to be down nets placed over the whole roof.

[0164] Preferably, the frame will have horizontal members co-incident with the floor level, window sill and head levels and eaves level of the existing house.

[0165] The depth of the frame needed to give it structural strength also provides hidden space for insulation, air conditioners, fire sprinklers, security cables and cameras, window and door shutters, earthquake dampers, roller screens, burglar alarms, storage space and folding awnings.

[0166] FIG. 25 shows methods of using tiles or panels hingedly fixed together to form a fabric for use in shade sails. In FIG. 26, a house 2501 has an external set of columns 2515 and 2516 which support a shade sail 2520. The shade sail 2520 is made up of solid or rigid tiles or panels 2521 which may be any two-dimensional shape including circles, triangles and polygons. The tiles or panels 2521 are hingedly connected to each other using at least one split ring or carabineer 2523 per side. The tiles or panels 2521 are also hingedly connected to cables 2517 using split rings or carabineers 2522 and are also hingedly connected to the eaves of the housing using slit rings or carabineers 2624. Support cables 2518 may be used to support the cables 2617, tiles 2521 and the sail shade 2520. The three-dimensional shape of the shade sail 2520 may be as described in FIG. 1, i.e., flat or twisted two dimensional forms, or the shade sail 2520 may be a three-dimensional form made up of a number of two-dimensional flat or twisted tiles or panels 2521, as described for this FIG. 25 and for FIG. 12. Of course, each tile or panel could have its own three-dimensional form. The ties or panels are preferably manufactured from solid or rigid fire resistant material to give the shade sail 2520 a higher fire rating than can be achieved using “thermo” or “thermo setting” fabric cloths. Fire resistant coatings applied to fabric cloths will not achieve the same fire performance levels that are attainable using more solid materials in tiles or panels. The shade sails formed using this method of construction will preferably be designed as permanent structures, with strength characteristics that do not require them to be lowered in high wind. They may be designed as “attached”, “independent”, or “supportive” type structures and may have sprinkler systems installed on them to further increase their fire rating. The tiles or panels may be fabricated from a wide range of materials including sheet metal, fibreglass, plywood, polycarbonate, glass, acrylic, Kevlar, welded steel rods, woven stainless steel wire, glass reinforced plastica (GRP) or glass reinforced concrete (GRC). Also composite sandwich panels could be used, as could flexible and semi-rigid materials and cloths fixed within a rigid frame. Each or any panel could have fixed or operable louvres fitted inside a rigid frame. The amount of shade, heat and light under the sail shade will be controlled by the gap size chosen between adjacent tiles or panels and the material from which they are constructed. In FIG. 25 tiles or panels may also have perforations in them as in tiles 2626, and they can have a rigid perimeter as in the woven stainless steel wire panels 2526. The rigid perimeter or frame also has the advantage of reinforcing the holes in the panels through which the joining split rings or carabineers are inserted. Tiles or panels type 2527 show one means of fabricating a twisted four-sided panel by bending the tile along one of its diagonals. This allows a four-sided polygon to use greater flexibility in the height differences between its corners. Each panel could be two skins and be inflatable.

[0167] FIG. 26 shows the advantage of using curved columns as compared to straight columns for supporting shade sails. In FIG. 26(a) on the top section of the right-hand side, a traditional straight column is shown. With existing technology shade sails, the columns are usually layed or sloped back at their top away from the house 2801 to avoid the impression of the column being overstressed. This happens to a vertical column when the shade sail is tensioned. In FIG. 26(a) top right the column 2615 is fixed into a footing 2611 and a backstay 2641 is fixed to the column and back down to a footing 2612. The shade sail is supported between the columns 2616 and the house 2601. A turnbuckle 2630 is positioned between the shade sail and the column to allow tensioning of the shade sail. This represents the existing state of the art with or without the backstay.

[0168] One problem with this existing arrangement is the distance from the boundary fence 2616 to the start of the shade sail can become excessive because the total distance is made up of three parts, being T the turnbuckle length, C the column width and B the backstay width. When these are added and the width of the scalloping is added for the shade sail a considerable loss of shade sail area occurs between the house and the boundary.

[0169] As a comparison this, on the left-hand side a curved column 2615 is used the end of which can be aligned with the boundary 2616. It can be seen the turnbuckle distance T is the only distance between the boundary and the start of the shade sail. The distance T can also be eliminated by having the turnbuckle under the column. On the top left section the column may be softened or strengthened against bending by a tie down chain 2641 set into a separate footing 2612 or by a chain 2842 set into the column footing 2611. The width of the footing P being similar in both the left and right-hand cases.

[0170] The aesthetics of the shade sail column arrangement on the left-hand side is far superior to that on the right-hand side. The columns do not appear to float freely outside the shade said area and there is a perception that they belong to the total structure rather than be an external element. Also the vertical tie chain looks better and structurally the geometry is more efficient for equal shade sail tension loads. The columns re preferably steel I-beams bent around their vertical axis although they could be concrete or any other steel son or shape. In the case of steel, stiffening plates 2617 could be used near the base of the columns. The shade sail column/arrangements on both the left-hand and right-hand side of FIG. 26(a) may be used as permanent structures or the shade sails may be lowered to ground level by any means disclosed in this application to function as strengthening for the house as in FIG. 2.

[0171] In FIG. 26(b) the house 2601 has concave curved columns on the left-hand side and convex curved columns on the right-hand side. On the left, the distance between the house and the column vanes and may be represented by X at the top and bottom and X- at points in between. On the right-hand side, the convex column could be designed so that the distance between the house and column remains constant at distance X at all heights. From the selected column shape a complimentary raising, lowering and support system can be selected from any of those disclosed in this application or by any other means.

[0172] FIG. 27 illustrates a double-skinned hypar shade structure 2710, where an upper skin 2720 is porous except for a solid central skin portion 2721, and the lower skin 2730 is solid except for a porous vertical skin portion 2731. The alignment of the strips 2721,2731 provides a vented, waterproof hypar structure 2710. The area under the structure 2710 is waterproof because the upper skin 2720 shades the solid fabric of the lower skin 2730. The corners of the skins 2720,2730 are supported by curved beams 2740 and a central vertical column 2750.

[0173] FIG. 28 illustrates a double skin hypar shade structure 2810 with a six-point, preferably two high and four low, the supports being the upper ends of curved columns 2820,2821. The upper skin 2830 is separated from the lower skin 2840 by vertical struts 2822 fixed to the ends of the columns 2820,2821.

[0174] Preferably, the upper skin 2820 is shade cloth and the lower skin 2840 is sold fabric.

[0175] Preferably, cables are stretched between the high points of the skins 2830,2840 to provide a cable support for the fabric and to define a ridge line for more positive water shedding by the lower skin 2840.

[0176] FIG. 29 ills a shade structure 2910 which uses four curved RSJ columns 2920 that provide support for multi-faceted shade cloth 2930 and corner supports 2940 for an enclosed building structure. This type of structure suits public and private parks or sports areas where the integral building enclosure 2950 is a secure locked area for sports or recreation equipment. This type of structure if large enough, could also function as a public area biological attack shelter where the central building 2950 contained compressor and air filters to provide a positive air pressure inside the fabric enclosure where an air through the porous fabric 2930 would prevent entry of air borne bacteria or other biological agents from entering the enclosed space.

[0177] FIG. 30 is an isometric view of a residential house 3010 with curved columns 3020 positioned at the end of the house. The columns 3020 are set into the ground and are curved at their upper end to provide supports for a three-dimensional curved fabric sail 3030 as shown. The columns 3020 may be of any curvature to allow them to prevent access onto the top of the fabric 3030, by climbing up the column 3020, and the columns 3020 may have a curvature as shown to shape the cloth into an eternal outwardly inclined face 3031 which is difficult to climb. The ends of the columns may be designed to be at any distance above the ground, but preferably they should be high enough to allow a mower under and also high enough to allow emergency fire egress.

[0178] Rafter members can also be used fixed between the end section of tem curved column 3020 to or under the eaves 3011. These rafter members may be pre-curved or pre-cambered or they may be bent or stressed into shape. These rafter members provide further means to support and shape the fabric 3030. The fabric may be in one or several pieces and the use of the bias stretching properties of woven or knitted shade cloth will allow a certain degree of error in the cutting pattern for a one-piece sail as compared to solid non-stretching fabric. Using any number columns 3020 and rafters parallel to each other along any face of a building will determine a barrel vault geometry for the fabric.

[0179] FIG. 31 shows a similar arrangement but the columns 3120 supporting the fabric 3130 are outwardly curved.

[0180] FIG. 32 shows a further embodiment when outwardly curved columns 3220,3321 support the fabric 3230 and wall panels 3340.

[0181] FIG. 33 illustrates a basic curved column hypar 3300 where curved columns 3301 support a hypar-shaped fabric roof section 3303. Support struts 3302, preferably two per curved column end as shown may be used to support the end of the curved column where the combination of the curved column ard the two struts 3302 provide a very stable triangulated support. The struts 3302 may be omitted.

[0182] The support struts 3302 may also be used to support wall panels 3304, 3305 and 3309 where the wall panel fabric 3304 (partly obscured) is joined with or is integral with the roof fabric 3303 and is also supported by the stub 3302. Wall panel 3305 is transparent showing only its edges and is similar to wall panel 3304.

[0183] Wall panel 3309 is similar to wall panel 3304 and 3305 except that it is shown in a raised position, where any method of wares or ropes or pulleys may be used to hoist and fold the wall panel into an elevated position such that sunlight and scattered UV may penetrate further under the structure.

[0184] Wall panel 3306 is supported by two members 3307 which are pivotally connected to the ends of the struts 3502 and/or the end of curved column 3301.

[0185] A torsion spring 3308 acting between strut 3302 and member 3307 holds the members 3307 up against gravity force. A tension cable (not shown) or any other suitable means may be used to pull the members 3307 down to sit adjacent to members 3302 against the torsion fore of the spring 3308.

[0186] The fine 3310 represents the outside perimeter of shaded area with all wall panels down.

[0187] The struts 3302 could be tension only cables and these cables could be retractable back to the column end when the wall fabric is raised to give total unobstructed access under the shade structure except for columns 3301.

[0188] FIG. 34 shows the use of curved columns to cover large areas such as over sports fields, etc. Curved columns 3401 are spaced around the perimeter of an area to be covered and a fabric cover 3402 is placed over the columns and pulled down the outside of the columns and fixed to tension the fabric. Fabric strengthening strips 3403 may be run in any pattern throughout the fabric cover. Braced inverted U-columns 3404 would aid in limiting the deflection of the columns and would greatly strengthen them. The scalloped edges 3405 could include an extendable member such as shockchord to assist in fitting the cover 3402.

[0189] This type of shade structure has the fabric cover cut to continue the roof cloth down into wall cloth and the roof and wall cloth may be tensioned by pulling down on the wall cloth, preferably using means attached to the columns.

[0190] FIG. 35 illustrates a shade structure 3510 based on using inwardly curved columns 3520 at the corner of any polygon plan layout, and one or more central supports 3530; where the slope of the lower section of the curved columns 3220 is outwards and upwards from a person's viewpoint trying to climb up the outside of the structure. A segment of cloth 3540 is removed for clarity.

[0191] FIG. 36 illustrates a shade structure 3610, using four inclined and inwardly fading columns 3620 and 3621 having two high and two low, to provide support and shape a fabric cover 3630 which consists of a hypar between the high and low points on the columns; and the fabric 3620 is continued over the curvature of the columns 3620,3621 and down the inclined straight section of columns, where scallops or arches 3631 are formed in the fabric edge and the pattern of the fabric is also developed to allow for the high and low columns to allow all the scallops to be an even height above ground level. A quarter of the fabric cover is removed to show details.

[0192] FIG. 37 illustrates a shade structure 3710 using at least three and preferably four equally curved columns 3720 spaced at the corner of a polygon, and facing radially outwards where the columns 3720 shape and support a single piece of fabric or cloth 3730 cut and fabricated with surface curvature to fit over the columns and extend down towards the ground and the central flat section 3731 so formed can be propped up if desired by any suitable means. One side of the fabric is omitted for clarity.

[0193] FIG. 38 illustrates a shade structure 3810 using four curved columns 3820,3821 where two diagonally opposite columns 3821 are higher and are curved beyond the vertical such that the ends of all of the curved columns are at equal height, and a single piece of fabric 3830 has a pattern that forms a central hypar and extends down to the ends of all columns. One quarter segment is removed for clarity.

[0194] FIG. 39 illustrates a shade structure 3910 using three or more but preferably four curved columns 3920 with a straight section 3921 on the radially outwards facing ends, where two flexible beams 3930 are sprung into position and fixed to diagonally opposed corner columns where these beams or rafters are used to shape and support the fabric cloth 3940. One quarter of the cloth is removed for clarity.

[0195] FIG. 40 illustrates a shade structure 4010 using at least three outwardly curved columns 4020 facing outwards and a central support column 4030 where the fabric cover may be fabricated in triangular-shaped sections and the fabric is designed to continue down the outer column section to form an upwards and outwards facing wall section 4041 extending as close to the ground as required to eliminate scattered UV. One segment is removed for clarity.

[0196] FIG. 41 shows the use of multiple curved columns at the same location such that more than one fixing point at more than one height can be provided at basically one location. In FIG. 41 curved columns 4101 may have their lower ends in the same footing and be designed and orientated to provide multiple fixing points as shown. The fixing points can be at any location and in the drawing are labelled as (H) for a high level and (L) for a low level. It can thus be seen that separate shade sails 4502 may be fixed between a structure tower 4503 and the column ends. Interesting and practical aesthetics can thus be created adding character and additional area to an existing building 4104. Depending on the orientation and level of some of the sails, they may need to have holes strategically placed in them to go around some of the columns, however this adds interest and is not considered a disadvantage.

[0197] FIG. 42 shows a number of curved columns 4201 and one piece fabric covers 4202 in plan view. In FIG. 42(a) the location of two highs and two lows forms a four-column “hypar”. In FIG. 42(b) the location of the highs and lows on the six curved columns form a very practical “stretched hypar” suitable as a roof for housing, particularly if fabric is used that stretches on the bias. The shape created could then be waterproofed by spraying with a sealant that seals the holes in woven or knitted cloth. Similarly, the highs and lows on the four column shade in FIG. 42(c) forms an interesting shape. FIG. 42(d) has six or more columns at different levels to create a “multi-point hypar”. FIG. 42(e) shows one use of any number of columns used with any number of separate fabric shade sails to create interesting and practical overlapping shade sails, where one use of the overlapping is to provide areas of increased shade protection. FIG. 42(f) shows a one piece fabric cover designed to spiral up a number of fixing points at different ascending levels where some of the fixing points may be on different columns or branches of the column above each other.

[0198] FIG. 43 shows the use of multiple heads, or multiple columns 4301 in one footing, to cover large areas where different shades are used at different levels and fixed at different heights so that they overlap each other and eliminate gaps caused by edge scallops in same level and/or same fixing point multi sails. One the left-hand side, two multi columns are shown in isometric and on the right, a plan view of the overlapping shade is shown. In FIG. 43, the square layout of the overlapping sails dictates the number of fixing points required at each plan location. In the plan view on the right-hand side, four columns each have four heads and each have four different levels. The different levels are shown as 1, 2, 3, or 4 in circles and the different level sails and their limits are shown as 1, 2, 3, or 4 in squares, with e.g., Level 1 sails fixed to level 1 columns.

[0199] FIG. 44 shows pairs of curved columns 4401 supporting a pre curved or pre-stressed rafter 4402. The ends of the columns may be tied down via a chain or cable 4403 set into a footing in the ground. A tie chain or cable 4404 may be used to prevent the columns spreading under downward wind load. A fabric cover 4405 is fitted over the rafters and may be fixed to the rafter either at the ends of the rafters only or along the length of the rafter. The locations of the fixings of the fabric to the rafter will to a large extent determine the size of the columns and rafters. If the rafters are pulled down and pre-stressed into place, this active force will act against wind uplift if the fabric is fixed along the length on the rafter. FIG. 44(a) is a part isometric view of a preferred end to a shade constructed from any number of columns and rafters. A second curved section 4406 is fixed to each of the end columns 4401, preferably at right angles to it and preferably with a lower end fixing point. Cutting the fabric to stretch and fix to these points as well as the rafter ends provides an aesthetic and practical sloped eaves treatment of me shade end.

[0200] FIG. 46 shows some further details of using curved columns and explains the advantages.

[0201] In FIG. 45(a), a column 4502 is installed adjacent to a house 4501. A fabric sail 4503 is supported and shaped by the column 4502 and supported by the house 4501. Backstay supports 4507 anchored by footing 4508 may be used if required. If the fabric sail is fixed only at points 4504 and 4506, any upward wind force on the sail will be converted to an inwards force at points 4604 end 4506 which will have a resultant bending moment force at the base of the column. However, if the fabric is fixed also at the point 4505, there will be a component of the wind force converted into an outwards force and a resultant negative bending moment at the base of the column, which will reduce the overall bending moment of the column at its base, which may allow a reduction in the design size of the column. Depending on the distance between points 4504 and 4505, additional fixing points been them or continuous fixing along this length may also influence the sizing of the column.

[0202] FIG. 45(b) are elevations of different columns to demonstrate the perception of bending in straight and curved columns. FIG. 45(b)(i) shows a straight column installed in a vertical orientation. The forces of tensioning the fabric and wind cause the column to bend in noticeably, because the general public's perception is that structural columns should be vertical. The column in FIG. 45(b)(ii) has been layed back so that when the forces are applied to it the bending still takes place to the same extent but the perception is less because the bent column between its top and bottom can be made to be near vertical. This type of installation is only marginally better than (i). By far the best column installation is to pre-bend or pre-camber the column as in FIG. 45(b)(iii) so that the perception is still a bent or curved column under load, the bend being slightly smaller. The bending moment in all three types is the same being the product of the force by the distance, however the size of the column in FIG. 45(b)(iii) can often be made smaller because it can be designed on a strength requirement rather than a more onerous deflection limit governed by perception criteria.

[0203] FIGS. 45(c), (d), (e), (f), (g) and (h), are all methods of further reducing the size of bent, curved or pre-cambered columns for a given load.

[0204] In (c) a chain or rod is connected to the top and bottom of the column with the lower section of the chain set in the footing. In (d) the chain or rod is connected at its lower end to the column above the footing. In (e), a stiffening plate is welded to the column around the area of maximum bending moment and this plate is used to fix the chain to. In (f) a chain or rod is fixed as shown, the inclination of the chain increasing the columns strength. In (g) a tapered column is used where the column is deeper at the base where the bending moment is at a maximum. In (h) the column is formed from sections of any cross-sectional shape and the sire or thickness of the sections may be increased towards the base.

[0205] FIG. 46 is an isometric view of a typical residential house which has a number of different shade sails attached to it. Because there is no shade on all sides of the house, it could be termed a “skin cancer resistant” house or a “sun safe” house. Shade sail 4601 is similar to FIG. 1 in this specification. Shade sails 4602 have telescoping columns or curved telescoping columns. Shade sails 4603 are shade sails capable of being lowered using column tracks and winches as per a number of methods hereinbefore set out, including where the beam support 4604 is lowered down the inside columns 4605 and the outside edge of the shade sail is lowered down the outside columns 4606.

[0206] The lowering of shade sails 4802 and 4603 if necessary down to ground level make them ideal to exclude scattered or sky radiation, and model testing has proven this to increase the solar protection factor (SPF) or Ultra Violet Protection factor (UPF) by a factor of at least two compared to extruding technology non-lowered shades.

[0207] Shade sail 4607 is a vertical or near vertical sail extending from eaves rafter extensions down to ground level.

[0208] FIGS. 47 and 48 are drawings of the preferred embodiments of a multi purpose fire fighting system.

[0209] FIG. 47 is an aerial view of a house 4701. The house has any number of hollow steel columns 4715 erected around its perimeter. The columns 4715 are preferably set into a footing in the ground as shown in FIG. 48.

[0210] The columns 4715 preferably have dual purpose of supporting shade sails 4720 and being a pressurised or non-pressurised container for the storage and delivery of fire fighting liquids, foams or powders. Each column has nozzles 4716 preferably at the top and also anywhere along its length. The nozzles deliver higher level sprays 4717 or lower level sprays 4718. The nozzle may be of any type from known technology capable of delivering the fire fighting medium in a designed spray pattern, at a designed rate and in a designed particle or droplet size. The nozzles may include atomising types similar to, or in accordance with U.S. Pat. No. 4,349,156. This type of fine spray or fog is ideal for forming a saturated atmosphere to resist fire spread or to cool the air surrounding the house.

[0211] Pressurised water from a street main 4740 behind the kerb 4760 may be used to feed a ring main 4741, from which each column is serviced by a service pipe 4742. Mains and pipes 4740, 4741 and 4742 are preferably underground. The columns could also be supplied with water from a swimming pool 4730 or any other reasonably dose supply such as underground tanks, rainwater tanks, bores or dams (not shown) where the supply may be pressurised by pump 4750 for delivery to the storage tubes and/or fire source.

[0212] The nozzles can be designed for any required spray, stream or mist in any two or three dimensional pattern and may be manually or remotely activated by a person or sensing devices such as smoke or heat detectors. The nozzles can preferably be remotely realigned to allow for wind in any direction and any fire source location.

[0213] Absorbent foam tiles 4770 are shown set into or placed on top of the roof to act as a fire blanket at the external fire/fuel interface. These are a means of preventing sparks starting spot fires and may also reduce heat levels to delay internal flash-over.

[0214] There are many options for the supply and pressurisation of the water to feed the nozzles via any suitable reticulation system, which will be obvious to those skilled in the art. Alternatively, each column could be independently filled with water, foam, gas, powder, liquid and propellent to function as a large fire extinguisher without any external supply means during the fire.

[0215] FIG. 48 is a cross-section elevation of the house 4701 from FIG. 47.

[0216] In FIG. 48, the house or building 4801 has a frame 4802, floor slab 4803, and floor footing 4804. Columns 4015 with nozzles 4816 are set in footing 4805. The columns preferably support shade sails 4820. The internal space of the hollow steel or concrete columns 4815 are supplied with water from the underground mains 4841 and 4842.

[0217] The nozzles are designed to deliver any upper three dimensional spray patterns 4817 or lower three dimensional spray pattern 4818. Absorbent foam tiles 4070 may be soaked with the nozzles to act as a fire blanket or barrier in the event of an impending wildfire or bushfire. Internal spray nozzles or sprinklers (not shown) could also be installed in the roof space and/or internal living space of the house to operate in conjunction with, or separate from the external nozzles. Spray nozzles may also spray onto the columns. Fire reels 4880 can be supplied with water or foam from the columns 4815.

[0218] On the left-hand side of FIG. 48 the shade sails 4820 are shown in the erected position, whilst on the right-hand side they have been lowered to ground level at the columns. The effect of lowering the shade sails and spraying a mist 4818 under them from nozzles 4815, particularly in single storey houses will be to smother the fire, prevent winds fanning the fire and provide a vertical flame spread barrier at least in the early critical period.

[0219] The fire fighting system as shown in FIGS. 47 and 48 could also be used to cool the house using a mist or fog spray. Using the nozzles to spray onto hot roof cladding will both cool the house and the heated water could be recirculated to warm a swimming pool or spa. In cold climates, the nozzles could be used to define or melt snow on a roof, where the columns have an alternative use as storage and delivery means for snow melting and/or de-icing materials. These materials could include glycol based fluids, hot water or air, particulate or water dissolved salt, or any other suitable material sprayed on the roof as a pro wetting agent before snow or ice or as a melting means after or during the build up of snow or ice.

[0220] The sails themselves could also be used as a means of delivering heat to melt snow or ice. Cables or metal mesh could be supported by the sail, or the sail itself could be metal mesh to deliver heat by electrical resistance of the cables or mesh. The fixing points of the sails could be part way up the roof so that the heat is delivered over the gutter; and the said could also be lowered as to prevent snow build up on house walls.

[0221] The columns could also be used as insulated water heaters for hot water in the building, for personal use, or in space and/or underfloor heating.

[0222] One of the uses of columns for storage and delivery of snow and ice melting materials and firefighting materials is the “on site” availability of these materials will allow building standard relaxations and consequent cost savings e.g., the level of fire resistance in different building structure members can be reduced if there is a means of putting out a fire in say ten minutes as opposed to one or more hours using a fire engine. Also snow loads and therefore building member sizes could be reduced.

[0223] Another use will be the reduction of insurance premiums where “on site” fire fighting and/or snow load reduction means are available.

[0224] Advantages of the present invention can be summarized as follows.

[0225] 1. Improvements in Awnings and Shade Sails

[0226] These improvements include, but are not limited to

[0227] (a) a method of reducing high wind loads on structures resulting from the attachment of shade sails, including a sail release mechanism;

[0228] (b) improved performance of shade sails using double, multiple and overlapping skins, where some of the skins may be solid or waterproof.

[0229] (c) improved aesthetics and efficiency of shade sails using curved columns;

[0230] (d) economical methods of increasing shade sail ars at the corners and along the edges.

[0231] 2. New Transitional Living Zone

[0232] Creation of a new living zone adjacent to buildings using a new form of architecture for the area between the harsh outdoors and sterile indoors. The new concepts include but are not limited to:

[0233] (a) methods of raising, lowering and supporting shade sails that allow the sails to be tensioned in any position thereby providing a means of changing the amount of shade provided at different times of the day and different seasons;

[0234] (b) methods of safely lowering and removing shade sails in no wind to high wind conditions;

[0235] (c) new winches and rigging systems for raising, lowering, supporting and tensioning shade sails;

[0236] (d) new cantilevered eaves type shade sails and support systems;

[0237] (e) new “column” or “frame” support systems for shade sails including a classification system for structural supports based on structural type and end use;

[0238] (f) new column types including curved, folding, telescoping, precast concrete and lost formwork pressed meal;

[0239] (g) new independent type shade sail structures remote from other buildings;

[0240] (h) new fabrics for shade sails including woven stainless steel mesh and chain mail and methods for using them, including framed panels;

[0241] (i) enchancement of natural climate control using techniques for overlapping skins to generate convection and radiation heat powered ventilation cooling for the areas both under the shade sails and the adjacent buildings;

[0242] (j) energy and cost reduction related to cooling air conditioners resulting from climate modification and wall and roof shading of a building;

[0243] (k) inclusion of shade walls as either separate fabric sections or integral with the shade sails to produce conventionally enclosed rooms with walls and roofs for privacy, security and insect control; and

[0244] (l) using shade sails and fabric enclosed rooms as the means of climate modification for people, pets and plants including temperature, humidity, glare, UV, dust, rain, hail, noise and light.

[0245] 3. New Protection and Security Zone

[0246] Creation of a new zone around existing and new buildings to defend against natural and man made threats to the building and its occupants including, but not limited to

[0247] (a) classification of shade sails and their support systems as “attached”, “independent” or “supportive” in a structural sense;

[0248] (b) various methods of reinforcing existing structures against high wind and earthquake loads using permanent non-lowerable shade sails and their support systems;

[0249] (c) various methods of reinforcing existing structures against high wind and earthquake loads using lowerable shade sails and/or lowerable columns and/or frames, including partial shade sail lowering along tem outside edge;

[0250] (d) various methods of using lowerable and non-lowerable shade sails and their support systems as protection against windblown debris (inbound and outbound) falling trees, hail, lightning, and limited nuclear blast;

[0251] (e) using protection systems to lower risk of damage and therefore lower insurance costs and increase property value;

[0252] (f) use of fabric rooms as wash down or decontamination areas for chemical and biological agents and radioactive particles;

[0253] (g) use of fabric rooms as protected living zones in chemical, biological and radioactive contaminated areas, using positive internal air pressure, ambient temperature and sunlight degradation of agents, without the need for gas masks, suits, etc.

[0254] (h) use of fabric rooms where the fabric is at least partially effective in reducing gamma ray penetration from nuclear fallout, preferably assisted by ionisation technology,

[0255] (i) use of hollow steel shade sail support columns as the containers for air and water purification medium and equipment and power generation fuel and equipment in association with fabric shelters:

[0256] (j) use of hollow steel shade sail support columns as pressure vessels for the storage of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) or other fuels or material stored under pressure, in association with fabric or other shelters;

[0257] (k) use of hollow steel shade sail support columns as containers or pressurised vessels for air, lubricants, pool filtration chemicals and equipment, pool heaters or building air conditioning equipment;

[0258] (l) use of gravity column/legs as shelters from tornados, hurricanes, cyclones, storms, earthquakes, nuclear blast and nuclear radiation. If the column/leg were fabricated as a hollow cube or similar it would be less expensive than an underground shelter and superior to a basement shelter. By using four or more column/leg/shelters adjacent to an existing house or building each one could be used for a different purpose, say, one for washdown/protective clothing/entry/exit, one for a bathroom, one for sleeping and one for a kitchen/supplies. Hence a more normal and tolerable long-term lifestyle could be provided. Any number of column/leg/shelters could be abutted onto an existing building and the amount of time spent in the column/leg/shelters as compared to the rest of the house could be monitored to safe exposures. The column/leg/shelters could also be lead lined and earth sheltered as extra protection. The roof of the existing building could be reinforced and lined or protested.

[0259] (m) use of the structural façade system as protection from high wind and earthquake. The façade also protects from heat and cold by providing a significant depth for insulation and this results in reduced cooling and heating costs. Also the façade provides an excellent location for security cameras, alarms, window and door shutters and security bars. The façade could also support bulletproof claddings and bulletproof glass and be designed to be bomb resistant. The roof could also be protected. This system is suitable as an anti-terrorist installation.

[0260] 4. New Fire Protection Zone

[0261] Creation of a new fire protection zone around new or existing buildings and independent shade structures including, but not limited to

[0262] (a) the use of a structural façade system where the walls act as a fire blanket, are full of flame retarding foam, contain sprinklers or other fire fighting equipment or apparatus;

[0263] (b) the use of hollow steel shade sail support columns as pressure vessels for the storage and delivery of CO2, foam, water or powder for fire fighting purposes;

[0264] (c) the use of hollow steel shade sail support columns as permanent fire fighting extinguishers has many advantages, including nozzles at a height on top of the columns to spray effectively over the whole fire area. The nozzles could be remotely aimed at the seat of the fire by an operator or a heat-seeking detector and could deliver an effective aimed stream, spray or mist. Also these column/extinguishers are immediately available and eliminate the need for internal sprinklers, which can do as much damage as the fire itself. They may be linked directly to town mains supply and pressure or they may be internally pressurised. These column/extinguishers may be regarded as an invention in their own right and are not necessarily involved with shade sails although their co-operative use is a cost benefit in achieving both shade and fire protection capability. The use of these column/fire extinguishers will greatly reduce individual building fire risk and therefore will lower insurance costs and increase property value. They are an enormous advantage over garden hose protection and remote fire engines. They will be ideal for installation to protect large independent structures at schools and commercial areas where fabric fire retarding properties are insufficient fiber large numbers of assembled people; and

[0265] (d) the use of hollow steel columns as delivery systems for irrigation of land and de icing of snow and ice from roofs.

[0266] Various changes and modifications may be made to the embodiments described and illustrated without departing from the present invention.