Friday, March 5, 2010

Constraint and connexion - fabric formwork workshop

These days I’m preparing a workshop for 80 students of architecture to produce fabric formwork and cast vertical wall elements on campus at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts, School of Architecture.

The workshop is a hands-on break during a 4 week intense course on building technology at 2nd semester.
 [Images: students at the fabric formwork workshop at last year's course]

Parallel workshops focus on other major building materials of architectural tectonics: Brick, wood and metal.
Fellow teachers are Finn Bach, who’s an experienced structural engineer and Associate Professor at the Royal Academy and Johannes Rauff Greisen who’s doing an industrial PhD about automatic production of formwork for concrete.

[Images: workshop 2009 / the 'Seal' composite fabric/rigid formwork]

The workshop is a forum in which the students question material relations and their consequences for concrete form and surfaces.

[Images: workshop 2009 / fabric formed concrete]

Constraint and connection
The assignment has an overall theme of constraint and connection. The materials used are flexible fabrics, rigid or not so rigid boards and blanks - and then pouring heavy concrete, of course. Constraints can be understood literally as the means to hold the formwork together and how formwork clamps or constraining frames influence the outcome of the pour. Connection can be understood as the physical connection with a neighbouring element but of course also architecturally.

Vertical elements
We’ll have 10-12 groups and they will each produce a vertical element of 2 metres and 1,2 with which has to meet the another group’s element on one or both ends. This should encourage the students to consider how to work freely between connection points and interfaces between building components.
We will both have architecture students and architectural engineering students from DTU, Danish Technical University.
[Image: concrete surface cast in fabric formwork by students at last years workshop]

Light frefab formwork in stead of heavy prefab concrete
Formwork will be produced at DTU and then transported to the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts, School of Architecture where a big concrete truck will deliver concrete and cast all the vertical slabs on site… very exiting indeed. There’s a point to be made about prefabrication here –The most widely used building elements in Denmark are prefabricated concrete elements. They are heavy and ‘dumb’ – light weight formwork can be prepared in a workshop and easily moved to the site.

The images here are from the workshop last year and here's a link to an article about the workshop.

Feel free to join us during the pour Tuesday March 16th 2010 - and click the TEK1 tag below to read more about the outcome.

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