|Ph.D Student||Blonder Arielle|
|Subject||Introducing Fabric Materiality in Architectural Fiber|
|Department||Department of Architecture and Town Planning||Supervisor||Professor Yasha Jacob Grobman|
Fibre Reinforced Polymers (FRP) are a family of high-performance composite materials that presents unique mechanical properties of high strength, durability and low density, coupled with varied surface finishes and morphological freedom. The composite polymer is an engineered combination of fibres with a polymer matrix that makes it an extremely lightweight and strong material. Despite the opportunities offered by the material and its wide application across industries in recent decades, its application in architecture is still rather limited. Concerns about sustainability, coupled with the contemporary architectural tendency towards complexity and variation, act as barriers for wider implementation of FRP in architecture.
This research is seeking an alternative approach to FRP design and fabrication, in view of future architectural applications. It suggests a materiality-oriented design approach that relies on the material’s inherent capacities and qualities to enhance the FRP fabrication process. Basing the system on the materiality of the fibre composite, it places a focus on textiles, with the objective of harnessing their qualities for an alternative system of architectural FRP. The term fabric materiality (FM) was coined to designate the unique properties of textile materials and processing techniques, together with the inherent design approaches they introduce. With the objective of developing an alternative material system for architectural FRP, this research suggests that fabric materiality can be embedded in the FRP fabrication process, thus enhancing textile attributes. This could boost the expression of alternative design paradigms and fabrication logics related to biological composites and FRP engineering. In turn, it would remove the need for moulds to enable architectural expression.
The integration of fabric materiality in architectural FRP entails the adoption of new textile-related design concepts organised through parametric variation, self-organisation and resilience. Stemming from either a textile quality or a typical textile process, two material systems were developed to explore FM integration in FRP. Taking an integrative approach towards design and fabrication (fmFRP), one system is based on linear elements and the other on surface elements. In the first system, linear tubes were interlaced, while in the second system, pleated surfaces were layered to form spatial structures of resilient character.
Although different in type and mode of application, the elaboration of the two systems follows a similar research structure and the two material systems share common properties of process and product. Both systems result in a novel ‘matter-structure’ of very low density (~10kg/m3), and their development processes employ open-ended control and structured randomness.
Liberating the forming process from the necessity of moulds, fmFRP expands architectural expression through variation and complexity of form, removing morphological limitations and serial production constraints. Both systems could be further developed to suggest novel architectural applications.