At the recent Structural Membranes conference in Stuttgart, Ronnie Araya presented a paper on the current research at CAST. This summer Ronnie and his crew have produced a number of shell structures in a sort of composite formwork created by tensioned sheets of fabrics and padded frc. The methods are low tech and fairly simple; the structures are effective in using only a minimum of materials to obtain structural properties; and the images of the structures are just beautiful.
[image: formwork and cast shell structure in fibre reinforced conrete (frc) done at CAST, Winnipeg, Manitoba, photo by CAST]
I spent this past weekend in Barcelona and got the chance to visit Casa Batlló by Antoni Gaudí. A lot can be said about the structures produced from the mind set of the brilliant Catalan architect, however, I want to point out the immediate ressemblance with the work done at CAST. I know Gaudí is a huge source of inspiration af knowledge to CAST; references I've come across have been concentrating on the design work using hanging chain models and catenary curves.
The image below shows a beam or possibly just a shell covering the details of the top of the skylight - more on that later - When I saw this part of the structure I was stunned at the close ressemblance to the works Ronnie had presented only weeks before. The actual construction methods are pretty different as far as I'm informed. Gaudí used brick and plaster to a great extend in this house - I'm pretty sure that the simplicity of the CAST methods (using technical textiles and frc) deviced a century after Batlló would inspire the old master - both certainly inspire me.
[image: Beam across the atrium in Casa Batlló, Barcelona, photo: Anne-Mette Manelius]
The white building in the back is the Yestermorrow Design/Build School] Yestermorrow is a socalled Design/Build school in rural Vermont, USA. I was there recently attending a workshop casting full scale fabric formed concrete walls - while working a photographer from the TMagazine was there to shoot for an article on the place - and so I and the piece that we were working on ended up among the illustrations. The article is an overall picture of the school which they name 'the Bauhaus of Birkenstock nation' - and nothing on fabric forming - sigh - the magazine will just have to make an exclusive piece on FF another time - I'm sure another great pun will come from that ...
[Image: detail of the concrete surface of a concrete chair cast in fabric formwork]
So - here it is - my first blog post - basically stating that it and I exists in this concrete world.
Posts and links will be about concrete and architecture - due to a PhD project that I'm doing right now on the architectural perspectives in the use of fabrics as formwork for casting concrete. A recent post on the blog of the research center where I do my research is here. It's a post on what I call ambiguous chairs -
My name is Anne-Mette Manelius and my concrete heart has been beating for years as an architect and PhD researching concrete futures and the tectonics of fabric formwork. In 2012 I defended my doctoral dissertation on the architectural perspectives for fabric-formed concrete in an industrialized context. I presently live and work in Copenhagen, Denmark. The views presented here in the blog are my own. I am terrible at responding to posted comments, better if you contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org