My approach to weaving as an architectural practice was inspired by much of the work done over the past ten years at the Institute for Computational Design and Construction (ICD) and the Institute of Building Structures and Structural Design (ITKE). Therefore, with funding from OAQ, Stuttgart quickly became a logical destination for my study tour. I visited both departments and met PhD students, researchers and professors from the Cluster of Excellence Integrative Computational Design and Construction for Architecture (IntCDC) who are conducting various projects on a variety of architectural structures. Their research focuses on bio-digital material innovation, wood performance optimization, and carbon fiber project design, ranging from theoretical papers to prototypical models and built pavilions.
During this time, I learned that the theoretical fusion of past and present research methods can lead to a systematic study of architectural design.12 In both institutes, physical and computational prototypes are in constant dialogue during the research phase; an interactive process that is central to their approach to design. For example, in the LivMatS pavilion in Freiburg, Germany, the syntax, which is the sequence or order of the woven fibers, is first studied by hand with winding, knotting, and spatial lacing techniques, then digitized, and finally fed to a robotic arm that 3D prints the strands of material, in this case natural strands derived from linen.13
The fiber designs produced at ICD rely on weaving as a platform for thinking about the implications of viewing architecture as a process rather than a product.14 If adaptive architecture can simplify design practices, flexible materials can lead to new methods of green construction. In a profession where complex structures consume human and material resources, there is a need to simplify the method while going beyond the structural properties of the form. This study abroad has expanded my imagination of weaving as a linking element that can encompass the functional, behavioral, and atmospheric aspects of architecture and minimize materiality in sustainable design solutions.
Image 1. Models at ICD revealing different design processes with carbon fiber, 3D printing, and fabric. Naomi Julien.
Image 2. Models at ICD revealing different design processes with carbon fiber, 3D printing, and fabric. Naomi Julien.
Image 3. LivMatS Pavilion. 2021 Research Buildings / Prototypes. Botanic Garden Freiburg, Germany. ICD.
12 Ingold, Tim. The Perception of the Environment. London: Routledge, 2011, p. 346.
13 Institute for Computation Design and Construction. “livMatS Pavilion.” Accessed on March 27th, 2022. https://www.icd.uni-stuttgart.de/projects/livMatS-Pavilion/.
14 Muslimin, Rizal. “Learning from Weaving for Digital Fabrication in Architecture.” Leonardo 43, no. 4 (2010): 340–49. http://www.jstor.org/stable/40864128.