A Rubb Arctic adventure

“What an experience!” were the first words spoken by long time Rubb USA site supervisor and current salesman Marc Boutet after spending nearly a month overseeing the erection of a Rubb BVR on the polar ice cap.

Rubb USA has completed a 32’ x 97’ BVR structure at Summit Station CH2M Polar Hill Services, in Greenland, for the National Science Foundation.

Located at 72° 36′ N latitude, and at an altitude of 10,600 feet with a mean annual air temperature of -31°, Summit Station has long challenged the physical fitness of its visitors.

In the spirit of “a picture is worth a thousand words” we can reveal a handful of recently taken photos related to the project and provide some interesting insight.


C-130: Shipping and Receiving

The Rubb building was neatly packed and delivered via a USAF C-130 equipped with skis to land on the ice cap. The interior of the plane was ‘tight quarters’ as you can see in the picture below. That is the Rubb building to the left.


Free refrigeration

Food and supplies are stored ‘undersnow’ in a dug out cavern. Due to snowfall the depth of the cavern increases significantly over time to the point where the crew will dig a new ‘refrigerator’. From the photo below you can see the crew moving supplies into the cavern.


Not your average Ritz-Carlton

Sleeping arrangements at Summit Station… room service?


Building under construction:

The work begins…


With building framework complete, the gable end is lifted into position.


The Thermohall PVC ‘sheets’ are pulled/adjusted onto the frame via snowmobile.


The cladding on this building is R-35 rated Thermohall with 8” of high density insulation, after all the temperature can reach -100F! Rubb Thermohall is designed to withstand and perform in the harshest of environments.

Interior of building:


The BVR will be equipped with a generator driven lighting and heating system. The structure will support operations at Summit Station and will primarily serve as an equipment and maintenance shed. The building is set upon a foundation of wood/metal that can be best described as an ‘oversized toboggan’. Thus the structure can be moved periodically to prevent being ‘snowed over’. Rubb innovation at its best!


When asked what was most interesting experience about the Greenland project, Marc smiled and immediately said departing the site on a C-130. “The runway, actually ‘snowway’ is over three miles long and lined mostly with black flags. When you see red flags the plane must stop and turn around and try to take off again in the opposite direction. This is at nearly 11,000 ft. and the snow creates a lot of friction. After three failed attempts to lift off we stopped and the land crew attached portable ‘rockets’ to the plane to help us gain enough speed to gain altitude. I heard a couple of ‘booms’ and up in the air we went! All I could think was… what is going on? Well, I made it!”

More Rubb adventures to follow!


Apprentice builds experience in design and engineering at Rubb

Apprentice Liam Whyatt at Rubb Buildings Ltd

Rubb Buildings Ltd has welcomed our first Technical Apprentice to our Engineering Design Department at Team Valley Trading Estate, Gateshead.

Liam Whyatt, who attended Heworth Grange School decided that he wanted to pursue a technical apprenticeship rather than go to university after achieving excellent GCSE and AS Level grades.

Liam, who is studying Mechanical Engineering at Tyne Metropolitan College, Wallsend, said: “I really wanted to gain some hands-on experience in the world of work. At Rubb it is really interesting how all the elements of design, manufacturing and construction come together in one place. I am looking forward to working here.”

Rubb Buildings Ltd specialises in the design and manufacture of quality relocatable and permanent engineered fabric structures.

Design Office Manager Dale Robinson (pictured above, left) added: “We are pleased Liam has decided to pursue an apprenticeship route with Rubb. From first-hand experience a ‘work while you learn’ system gives a better practical understanding of the theory taught in universities and colleges. Liam has a keen interest in engineering and will develop the skills and knowledge at Rubb to become a successful engineer and play a key role in the future development of the company.”

Liam (pictured above, right) applied to Tyne North Training Ltd in the summer of 2014, where he completed assessments and the interview process. It became clear to TNT that Liam’s future looked bright in the field of Design Engineering, which in the past has been a profession, which started at university.

TNT began working to secure an Engineering Technical Support apprenticeship placement for the 18-year-old.

TNT Training Officer John Hopper said: “This apprenticeship at Rubb is a great opportunity for a young dynamic apprentice. Rubb’s engineers design, plan and manufacture innovative and efficient semi-permanent buildings for a variety of applications.

“Liam will be involved from the start of a project to ensure that he learns all about and contributes to Rubb coming up with the best custom design for their clients. This is an exciting role for any young apprentice who wishes to become a professional engineer.”

Fabric structures – an alternative world


Rubb UK’s structural engineer Dale Robinson highlights the features and benefits of fabric structures, their versatility and the benefits they can bring to clients looking for unique building solutions…

Tensioned fabric structures are becoming a well-developed technology. Architects have had the ability to experiment and create innovative fabric solutions. They are aesthetically pleasing, sensitive to the environment, and can be very cost efficient. 

Tension structures are becoming more commonly used in modern architecture due to the pleasing aesthetic properties they hold. It is believed they are efficient structures due to their weight/ strength ratio. There are three main elements of a membrane structure; the fabric which has to be constantly in tension in order to generate stiffness in the structure, flexible elements such as ties or cables, and the rigid support member’s that are subject to compression and bending forces.

In architecture fabric structures tend to be associated with large scale projects such as the London Millenium Dome, the Water Cube in Bejing, the Kiev Stadium and Jeddah Haj terminal to name a  few. However, there is another side to fabric structures that the architecture world may be less aware of. Structures that bridge the gap between the iconic structures mentioned above and the typical cycle shelter or entrance canopy. The ordinary structures used on a daily basis in the industrial, sports and aeronautical industries. There have been numerous successful, non-iconic projects where fabric structures have been adopted as an alternative to more traditional materials for buildings such as warehouses, hangars or sports halls.

These types of structures which are most commonly akin to portal frame structures use the fabric membrane as a cladding rather than the structure itself. Therefore the natural stiffness that is generated by the curvature of the fabric is not required to stabilise the structure. This offers great advantages over traditional builds. The main advantage is having the potential for a faster installation which results in a more cost effective solution. Another advantage is the ability to specify a translucent roof which can allow natural daylight into building saving energy costs. Given the flexibility of the fabric almost any shape can be accommodated and these structures are easily deconstructed which is predominantly why they excel in the temporary and relocatable markets. More recently there has been a large requirement for this type of structure to be designed and installed as a permanent solution. This tends to be in the sports industry mainly for schools, sports clubs and training facilities for professional sports teams. For a permanent solution additions can be made to the structure to include insulation, heating and ventilation to meet the necessary environmental regulations and more importantly to comply with Part L of the Building Regulations. Other ancillaries can be incorporated such as gutters, windows and doors along with any other additional requirements to provide sufficient amenities to the end user.

A fabric clad building solution is one of the most versatile and innovative solutions to modern day building problems. Although these structures tend to take the geometric stance of an industrial shape structure the shaping possibilities are limitless. The specific market and cost restrictions generally dictate this type of structure albeit we have seen exceptions in sports training facilities where alternative shapes tend to be introduced.

If a project operating on a tight timescale and requires a reliable, robust and cost effective solution, fabric covered buildings should be considered. They are designed suitably, as any other building, for the relevant environmental loading and to comply with Building Regulations. There are a variety of fabric colours available, that come with the necessary information on fire resistance and thermal properties to aid the designer. These structures can be partly clad in fabric along with alternative materials to form a unique hybrid solution which enables the architect to easily incorporate their own ethos into the final solution. Not forgetting this type of structure is sensitive to the environment and most fabric is recyclable which in turn makes this option sustainably viable.