Modern Awnings: Sails Shade the Home

Modern Awnings: Sails Shade the Home

A fabric awning is one of my favourite architectural elements. These awnings have many qualities. They’re kinetic, so not only can they be raised and lowered but they will move with the wind much like sails do. They include spots of bright, exciting colour to any building. And fabric awnings have an impermanent and transient quality that plays well against the solidity and stiffness of a structure. It is similar to the awnings would be the soft counterbalance to a building’s hard structure.

And what’s really cool (pun intended) about fabric awnings is that they were born out of a need to control the amount of sunlight entering a window. By shading the window during the summer months when the sun is highest in the sky, an awning retains the interior cooler and more comfortable. This saves energy and money. So from a simple and humble technical problem that needed a technical solution, fabric awnings developed into beautifully decorative and functional items.

Big and bold, awnings nowadays reflect new technologies, materials and design sensibilities.

Browse awnings and shade sails in layout

Colorful, adjustable and big, the awnings in this California house go beyond only window shades.

Whether largely down or up, these awnings can change the overall look of the house for the differing times of day and seasonal changes in the sun’s moves.

Having a location several feet ahead of the exterior wall and by supplying both vertical and horizontal shading, these awnings can wrap the entire elevation in color or…

… completely in sunlight.

BraytonHughes Design Studios

They’re certainly very different from the traditional fabric awning.

Sara Hopkins

The traditional porch relied less on the awning and more about the design to create the enclosure and distance.

r.e.a.l. ronald evitts architect llc

The modern upgrade uses the fabric awning. Fabric awnings can be used to pay big outside spaces employing a simple structure. The fabric will allow the light to filter through, maintaining the distance shaded but not dim.

Cathy Schwabe Architecture

It is important to be aware that the fabric will determine the quality of light for the exterior space. A white and gauzy type fabric will create an ethereal light.

Texas Construction Company

A darker and more closely woven fabric provides more colour.


A loosely draped fabric will give a very different quality to the space. The massiveness and severity of the structure is softened and made composed by the draped fabric awning.

Original Vision Limited

Like sails, the awnings can be in almost any form that matches and matches the general architecture.

Grounded – Richard Risner RLA, ASLA

And like sails caught in a fair wind, the fabric awning can add movement and life to the immovable house.

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