Have you ever thought of going outside the house with a huge container behind your back to shield your upper body from the sun? It may sound funny to have our own shelters with us like a turtle or a hermit crab but we may one day need one because battling it out with the intense heat of the sun can destroy our mood instantly. Who would want to be in a very hot place anyway where you’ll only constantly sweat and feel uneasy? Since natural forces have become harsher than ever, posing health and other socio-economic risks that make today’s summer season a no exception, it’s no wonder that standard sun awnings have made their way into people’s houses, market stalls and other commercial establishments to provide protection. But how and why they have become popular today can be traced back to the ancient times.
Would you believe that the first Egyptians have crafted some of the earlier versions of these materials? In fact, the first awnings were hand-woven mats that were hung over entryways and windows to serve as covers. Because farming is one of the primary sources of livelihood in earlier times, awnings were used as shelters for livestock. They shield the animals against the elemental factors that can cause them sickness, death and make them unfit for selling. Now, the similar idea persists when restaurant owners put awnings on top of their food carts, and building windows to prevent the food from being soaked, contaminated or spoiled by the sun and other elements of weather.
However, in the days of the Roman Empire, people use sun awnings to give shade and privacy to a huge number of audience watching gladiator battles in the coliseum. Due to the unpredictability of the weather, the Romans somehow found a way to build an enormous piece of sun awnings enough to sustain the entire arena, (with the same purpose as the modern stadiums that we have) something that still remains to be a question and never fails to amaze some expert historians because it was done in the absence of computers. Others believe that thousands of sailors skilled at moving sails and controlling rigs were employed in the process to worked together to create and maintain such a huge structure using ropes, pulleys, poles and cross beams.
In 50 B. C, even the Poet Lucretius regarded it as a sight and sound to behold and wrote, “Linen-awnings stretched o’er mighty theatres gives forth at times a cracking thunderous roar, when much ’tis beaten about, betwixt the poles and cross-beams.” They may have been a subject of debate in the past because of their complexity, but they are now easy to install and maintain.
In the 19th Century, people found another benefit of sun awning. When store owners install various shapes, sizes and colors of these materials on doorways, they comfort and attract customers during side walk sales where they can be directly exposed to heat because the shade itself provides a cool atmosphere. Perhaps the outdoor sales or auction that we currently have are not entirely new at all. After World War II, the invention of plastics and vinyl coating were employed in the creation of sun awnings making them water resistant. This explains why they are also excellent in repelling the rain during the wet season.
Even today, sun awnings are continuously built for residential and industrial purposes as indispensible architectural designs that infuse beauty and functionality to also help preserve the limited natural resources and make people prepared for the environment’s various surprises.
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