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THINKING A TEXTILE ARCHITECTURE

plex non-hierarchical surfaces. Non-woven fabrics, like felt, are randomly entangled creating unordered structures where discreet elements compound to create a friction based surface. Where traditional felts depend upon the given lengths of wool fibres, new synthetic non-wovens uses long fibres to enhance the connectivity of the surface. In Testa and Weiser’s vision these complex networks are computationally driven. Moving away from a reductionist logic of networks as connections between shortest paths, their work explores agent based systems to drive each strand within the surface as a trajectory of movement. Suggesting the term agential materialist combinatorics the project fuses computational logics with material ones.

The Peter Testa Weaver project questioning the length of the thread

Pliability: designing for a soft space The projects above assemble a series of textile based strategies for architecture construction. Taking point of departure in textiles as a technology rather than a material, these projects explore different properties of a textile logic. But where these projects have the shared aim of holding the textile structure in a fixed position perhaps the most significant property of textiles is their inherent pliability. In garments, nets, sails and ropes the key material performance at stake is the motility of the surface and means by which they can be dynamically redistributed. In architecture the tent is an obvious example of a motile structure. Temporary structures such as tents, awnings, retractable canopies or baldachins make use of the dynamic properties of textiles but need secondary structures to perform structurally. The question of pliability is a question of scale. If textile structures are soft, architectural textiles perform this softness at greater scales. However, the question of pliability asks profound questions to architectural design culture. How could architecture make use of the motile and the soft? What would an architecture of movement and state change suggest? How could it be to live in a soft space? If architectural design culture is predominantly situated within the abstracted place of representation, configuring its drawings in respect to a model of notation and interpretation, this new focus posits space inherently performative. This challenges our design paradigms. Representation is traditionally considered outside the temporal instead of giving primacy to the static and the ideal of the eternal. A soft architecture asks how our design traditions can be expanded to incorporate the moving and the behavioural. In this way the suggestion of the pliable and yielding gives rise to a computational inquiry. If the soft skin of a textile architecture could incorporate materials that enable in integration of circuitries, sensors and actuators, how would such robotic membranes be programmed? What are the logics of an architecture of behaviour and how can the computational be brought together with the material and the formed? Finally, the imagination of a soft space asks what the qualities of such a space could be. Textiles allow for an architecture thought beyond the rectilinear logics of set-square instead defined along the curved geometries of their skins. In the same sense their presence is shaped across the temporal, continually within a process of change and movement. These new coordinates challenge a modern understanding of space as extension, instead bringing forth a particular understanding of the sensual and the present. As in Adolf Loos’s bedroom for his young wife Lina [20], space becomes infused with a new material nearness.

Alvar Aalto furniture study

Adolf Loos bedroom design for his young wife Lina Loos

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Book: Textile Logic for a soft space  

The book "Textile Logic for a soft space", by Mette Ramsgaard Thomse (CITA) and Karin Bech (CITA).

Book: Textile Logic for a soft space  

The book "Textile Logic for a soft space", by Mette Ramsgaard Thomse (CITA) and Karin Bech (CITA).

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