Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Prototyping fabric formwork

[Undressing the Composite Column (2010) Concrete, inner formwork boards and fabric formwork jacket, by yours concretely]

Prototype c.1600, from Fr. prototype, from M.L. prototypon, from Gk. prototypon "a first or primitive form," properly neuter singular of prototypos "original, primitive," from protos "first" (see proto-) + typos "impression" (see type). Via

Prototyping Architecture
The architectural prototype is the theme of a exhibition opening at the University of Nottingham in October 2012 and moving to the Building Centre in London in January 2013. The title Prototyping Architecture emphasizes the proces of creating the prototypes and the role of material evidence in the creation of architecture in research and design practices.
Prototyping Architecture places a particular emphasis on research and experimentation showing how trial assemblies can inform architecture. In post-digital design practice the prototype remains a vital means of design development.” via
[The vocabulary of the Composite Column formwork, by yours concretely]
[Detail of the Composite Column]

Concrete as material and process
In fabric formwork the principles of tensioning the fabric, of restraining it, and placing concrete have a direct formal consequence as a material dialogue between relaxation and control; thus the technique highlights an architectural understanding of concrete as material and as process, stereogeneity (a concept coined in my doctoral dissertation).  

Process as prototype
To me the development of formwork principles and the tectonics of the constructed formwork is more the prototype than the final concrete object – but formwork tectonics can obviously only be evaluated as it is filled with concrete.  Essentially the fabric formed prototype must then be understood as the formwork, the process, and the concrete object, and the contribution discusses the future of industrialized concrete architecture by emphasizing the development of prefabricated, intelligent, and lightweight molds as an alternative to heavy and dumb concrete elements.

 [Sketch of the prefabricated formwork principle for the Composite Formwork, 2010 - see more here]

Prefabricated lightweight formwork
The exhibition provides myself with an opportunity to further develop the notion of prefabricated lightweight formwork and I am constructing a fabric formwork for a column/wall element. The aim remains the same as for the Composite Column (2010): to use a minimum of materials which doesn't explicitly add formal or surface qualities to the concrete structure. The specialized bits of the formwork will fit in my suitcase and only a few stabilizing elements are needed on site as well as, of course, the concrete.

 The mold is exhibited, hung next to the concrete object and details of the sculptural concrete object can be compared with its two-dimensional textile origin.
[The formwork for thirteen concrete columns fit into three duffle bags, via]

Literally carrying a notion 
The idea of carrying lightweight formwork in a bag has been applied by Mark West on several occasions, for example for Casa Dent in Puerto Rico (2001) designed by the California based Cheng Design. Fabric formwork was in fact also brought to the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts by West and his assistant Aynslee Hurdal back in 2007 where they cast three columns. I guess it is somehow appropriate to, literally, bring formwork to a new place.
[Three fabric-formed columns cast by CAST for the Creative Systems Exhibition and Seminar, 2007]

I am exhibiting with Cinark –Center of Industrialized Architecture at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts, School of Architecture


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  2. When is it that you are exhibitinng Cinark? I'de love to be in attendance.


    1. Hello Michael - the Prototyping Exhibition just opened a few days ago in Nottingham. Unfortunately I wasn't there for the opening but four Cinark prototypes are there (including a clover shaped column that I made from a formwork brought there from Cph). They are in nice company with work by Zaha Hadid, Kieran Timberlake and others - If you are near Nottingham, go check it out at the Wolfson Prototyping Hall of the new Energy Technologies Building, University of Nottingham, Jubilee Campus


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