Monday, March 29, 2010

Sensual and bizarre - cast in flexible formwork

I just came across the website of architect Ryan B. Coover. He has some beautiful pictures of his experiments with fabric formwork which reminds me of work I wish to share.

 [Image: Constraining system with strings and tubes (top); membrane and holes for columns (middle); Cast surface and columns seen from below (bottom), Photos by Ryan B. Coover]

Coover's images show a system to cast a voluptuous ceiling and fabric formed columns in the same pour.
It looks like images of plaster models made at CAST  maybe from Coover's time doing research or studies there.

Hands on at CAST
The approach to research at CAST is 100 % hands on in producing plaster models at a scale 1:4 and then do full scale in concrete.
 [The workshop at CAST with hundreds of plaster models everywhere. Photo by CAST]

If it works in plaster
Where others would say: don't try it in concrete if it doesn't work in a scale model in plaster - West has the approach which states: if it works in plaster it will not fail when cast at full scale.
So with this preaching in mind the principles shown in Coover's images should easily transfer to concrete. In fact the images above resembles facades by spanish architect Miguel Fisac.
The work of Miguel Fisac is well-known at CAST

The principle shown in the first image is a horizontal panel cast into a frame with a suspended membrane.
The flexible membrane will 'accept' imprints by objects placed below such as tubes, strings or dowels

[Image:concrete facade cast in flexible formwork of Centro social de las Hermanas Hospitalarias, Architect Miguel Fisac, Photo by Javier Azurmendi]

P-Wall and self-organization
Another architect who's been inspired by Fisac is San Fransisco based Andrew Kudless.
Kudless has explored the inter related consequences of two flexible materials: a plaster composite and a flexible membrane. He calls it self-organization of material under force

Self-organization is a theme in Kudless' work in general at his studio Material Systems or Matsys: "Matsys is a design studio that explores the emergent relationships between architecture, engineering, biology, and computation" from Matsys.

Wall at MoMA in San Fransisco
His latest piece shown below (2009) is part of a series of socalled P-walls (P for plaster?) starting in 2006 I believe. P-wall was commisioned by the Museum of Modern Art, SF and is exhibited permanently at MoMA in San Fransisco

[Image: P-Wall at SFMoMA by Andrew Kudless(2009), Photo from Kudless website]
[Image: P-Wall by Andrew Kudless consists of 150 plaster panels cast in nylon fabric over wooden dowls, Photo from]

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