Form Follows Function: The Design of Shade Structures

Contractor with hard hatOur Shade Structure Services Include:

  • Fully Engineered Structures
  • Sealed Engineering Plans for all 50 States
  • Engineering & Design Assistance
  • 30 to 45 Days for Structure Delivery After Receipt of Order and Submittal Approval
  • Multi Foundation Designs for all Geotechnical Requirements & Soil Conditions in all Regions
  • Site Specific Engineering Assistance for Special Site Conditions Included with Order
  • Structures Engineered to Withstand 115 MPH Wind Load per current  International Building Code (IBC) & Florida Building Code (FBC)*
  • All Structures Frames Engineered to Withstand 180 MPH Wind Load with Covers Off

*Apollo Sunguard recommends cover removal when winds forecasted to exceed a Category 1 hurricane of 74-95 MPH, 119-153 km/h.


“Form follows function” is an architectural principle that asserts the shape of a building or object should primarily be based on its intended function or purpose. It’s generally associated with industrial design in the 19th and 20th centuries, but has its roots with Roman architect, engineer and author Marcus Vitruvius Pollio. In 40 BC, Vitruvius wrote that all structures should have three attributes: strength, utility and beauty.

The relationship between form and function – and the beauty that can result – is not lost on the designers and engineers at Apollo Sunguard. Constructed of top quality materials, every shade structure is built to stand up to long-term weather exposure while doing an exceptional job of blocking UV rays and lowering ambient temperatures. And with 32 different types of structures, 17 fabric colors and 11 frame colors, as well as custom options, every shade structure has the potential to be a visually striking work of art.

An Apollo Sunguard shade structure that sits outside the Library on the campus of the University of South Florida is a perfect example.

The Form of Shade

Designed to shade a seating area, this custom, free-form shade design has peaks and valleys that both make an architectural statement and work together to cast more shade for longer periods of time throughout the day – a function that is certainly important in sunny Tampa.

Apollo Sunguard products are engineered with stainless steel cables and adjustable cable studs that make it easy to set and maintain cable tension for perfect, wrinkle-free shade sails. Our steel structures are built to withstand winds up to 115 MPH with the shade covers in place and up to 180 MPH with the shades removed. We recommend removing the shades when winds are predicted to exceed Category 1 hurricane speeds, and we make it easy with the simplest and most practical Quick Release System in the industry.

The Function of Shade

On a college campus, it’s important to have outdoor areas where students and faculty can congregate and enjoy fresh air between classes. But in a sunny location like Tampa, outdoor areas can quickly become too hot, making them unusable and in the case of metal furnishings, potentially dangerous.

The function of this Apollo Sunguard shade structure is to shade the seating area, allowing it to work as a comfortable outdoor gathering space, even in the heat of the Florida day. Apollo Sunguard fabric shades mimic the natural shade of trees, allowing air to flow through and lowering temperatures by up to 20 degrees. Depending on the color, Apollo Sunguard fabric shades provide between 93% and 96% UV Block which both protects people and preserves the quality and lifespan of outdoor surfaces and furniture.

Apollo Sunguard shade structures are protected by the shade industry’s strongest warranty – a 20-year warranty on the steel framework and a 15-year warranty on the fabric – so form and function are here to stay.

The Beauty Shade Structure Design

The Beauty of Shade

In this shade structure, the form and function combine in a spectacular expression of fabric and steel that provides maximum shade with an exciting, contemporary vibe. The custom design makes it a unique and striking structure that defines the area and creates a focal point, while providing very functional and appreciated relief from the sun.

Were he here to see it, Vitruvius would likely agree that this shade structure combines strength, utility and beauty in an admirable example of form following function.

Contact Apollo Sunguard

For more information on enhancing your outdoor amenities with Apollo Sunguard sun shades, contact us at 941-925-3000 or at [email protected].

See more Shade Structures that Wow from Apollo Sunguard.

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