Barrel Vault

Clear span structures for large spaces

Wondering how much a fabric structure or custom shelter may cost? Try our Project Estimator Tool.

Please click on the button to go to the Project Estimator Tool

Barrel Vault.

Clear spans for large spaces. Completely custom structures that transform your space into an all-weather facility.

Put clever engineering to work to transform your space into an iconic asset that you can put to good use all year round! The Barrel Vault features large clear spans with minimal support steelwork and infinite flexibility in design. They are built to last with warranties on steel and fabric of up to 25 years.


tensile membrane structure

What is a Barrel Vault structure?

A barrel vault is a tensile membrane structure, one of the most attractive permanent shade structures available. Other names for the Barrel Vault include PVC structure, PVC COLA (covered outdoor learning area) or a shade and membrane structure. Whatever you call it, the Barrel Vault is the ideal option where large clear spans are necessary. This is especially critical over sports courts, bowling greens, swimming pools, and school quadrangles.

All-weather access to your space gives you greater flexibility in how the space is used, as well as guaranteeing scheduling without the worry of rain or excessive heat upsetting your plans. You gain the potential to hire out your space for functions, making this structure an investment into the growth of your organisation.

Roof canopy for Bowling greens

Common Applications

This structure type typically covers rectangular areas but can be designed in any shape to maximise the coverage of unusually shaped spaces – see more about this in our Bespoke Design section on this page.

The most common application for the Barrel Vault is sports courts, especially basketball/netball, and bowling greens.

We have also completed structures for tennis courts, multi-purpose spaces, eating areas, and more.

Permanent shade structure for sports courts


Barrel Vault structures typically range in size from 6m2 to 100m2 but are unlimited in length.

The curved design of the Barrel Vault structure is perfect for enabling sports grade clearance heights, whilst keeping the edges low to minimise the impact of inclement weather. These structures can also be designed with end infills that further minimise the risk of disruption from driving wind and rain.

sports court canopies

Choosing materials for your Barrel Vault structure

The classic Barrel Vault structure uses PVC fabric (a ‘tensile membrane’) for the roof and galvanized or powder coated steelwork for the frame. Shade mesh fabric is also able to be used for the roof.

PVC fabric blocks 100% of UV rays and is completely waterproof, making this structure perfect for all-weather protection. While blocking all UVR, PVC still lets in ambient light (around 10-13%) which eliminates the need for skylights or artificial lighting during the day. PVC fabric cuts out the glare, but maintains the brightness needed on a sports court. For complete peace of mind, it also has up to 25 years warranty on both the steelwork and the PVC fabric.

For the steel frame, you have the choice between a galvanised finish (‘raw’ silver/grey look) or a powder coated finish (large range of colours available). The steelwork is independently certified by experienced fabric structure engineers. This means that not only will your structure be safe and durable, but you also won’t be paying for unnecessarily large steel sizes that may be recommended by engineers without experience in the niche fabric structure industry.

Multi purpose area roof

Bespoke Design

Every Barrel Vault structure is custom designed to be a unique and iconic structure for your organisation. We work with you to understand what you need to achieve with the space, and how you want it to look and feel when it is complete. You have complete control over the outcome.

Although this structure type typically covers rectangular areas, Barrel Vaults can be designed in any shape to maximise the coverage of unusually shaped spaces. Our past work has seen us ‘cut corners’ (in the best way possible! – see 00:08 sec here) so that clients don’t have to compromise on the amount of coverage they achieve. We’ve also designed varying height structures to maintain unimpeded view of existing design features, like the crucifix on a college building in a recent project.

All the details of the area are taken into consideration, including where the sun strikes throughout the day, the need for bird proofing, possible lighting design to allow 24-hour use, dealing with rainwater runoff, and more.

In consultation with you, our team will come up with a design that ticks every box – functionally, practically, and creatively. We use the highest quality concept drawings to bring your vision to life and can even put together a video presentation to help convey your idea to the other stakeholders like boards, P&C’s, and members.

custom all weather shade structures

Added Benefits of the Barrel Vault:

Faster Install

Compared to traditional buildings, this type of structure is much faster to install. This minimises the impact construction will have on the activities at your school, sports club, or other public space. Install typically takes two to four weeks*.

Extend the life of Synthetic Turf

Covering sports courts and other areas that use artificial turf is especially popular as it not only protects people that use the space, but it also protects the surfacing. Artificial turf can be up to 20 degrees hotter than the outside temperature (see 2020 Microclimates Report), so covering this is an excellent way to stay sun safe, as well as extending the life of your turf.

Minimise Noise

PVC is a great option if you want to minimise the noise in a space. PVC absorbs some of the sound and makes for a less distracting playing space unlike traditional options, such as steel, that tend to echo with a lot of people gathered underneath.

Bird Proof Your Space

Greenline Barrel Vaults are designed to be completely bird proof. Not only does this keep the space safer and cleaner for students, but it also limits the maintenance needed on the structure itself.


*sometimes mother nature has other ideas.

sports court shade

Add-On’s and Accessories 

Artificial Lighting

During the day, the PVC fabric allows around 13% transmission of natural light, removes glare, and maintains the open outdoors feel without any extra lighting needed. When it comes to night usage, you can extend of the use of the facility into the evening by adding artificial lighting. Our team will work on a lighting design that will tick regulatory boxes and give you optimal use of your space around the clock.

Post Pads

Post Pads are an excellent option to increase the safety of your new space. These come in a wide range of colours so you can have them blend seamlessly with the aesthetic of your structure. They are custom made to ensure a neat fit with the size of your columns.

Integrated Plumbing

Being a completely waterproof membrane, the roof structure can be designed with integrated eaves gutters and downpipes which can also be fully integrated into the existing stormwater drainage system.

Sporting Equipment/Accessories

Sporting equipment like basketball and netball hoops can be integrated into your structure to eliminate unnecessary posts, making the space safer and more versatile. For multi-purpose spaces, hoops can be retractable to allow full use of the space when the hoops are not in use.

PA System

Using your space for events? An integrated PA system is the perfect way to ensure you are heard above the noise! All wiring can be integrated within the steelwork to make sure it is safely out of the way of everyone – protecting both the people and the equipment!


Another practical and hazard minimising addition for event spaces is power outlets. These can be integrated into the steelwork, minimising the need for excessively long trip hazards extension leads.

What are Barrel Vaults?

How to protect artificial turf.

How much does it cost to build a covered basketball court?

What is a tensile membrane structure?

What materials are used to build a tension membrane structure?