In the heyday of high modernism, architects such as Le Corbusier and Mies van der Rohe extolled the aesthetic value of whiteness, which they viewed as connoting purity and simplicity. Mies van der Rohe’s Farnsworth House, for example, paired the stripped-down whiteness of its structural skeleton with expansive floor-to-ceiling windows, using the enveloping natural light to further elevate the already heavenly aspirations of the space. Today, some contemporary architects and designers have evolved the sublime aesthetics of white high modern architecture by using translucent fabric partitions, complementing the purity of the white walls with the fabrics’ ethereal play of light and shadow. Below, we discuss different design strategies for working with white fabrics in this way, and include two examples of projects that have used translucent fabrics in soothing but innovative ways.
Fabric: The Latest Architecture and News
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Studio Akkerhuis' bamboo design for a mobile theater proposal off the Netherlands coast addresses the characteristics of the material in the construction of light, resistant, accessible and transportable structures.
The project, a compact space similar to a small amphitheater, allows reuse with different configurations in various places with its joints made up of ropes and screws.
Jordanian artist Raya Kassisieh, with the support of American firm NADAAA, has repurposed her exhibit from the Amman Design Week in Jordan to create blankets for Syrian refugees and Jordanian families. The Entrelac exhibit, created by Kassisieh and NADAAA, consists of 300kg of hand-knit, un-dyed wool which was later cut and stitched to create blankets for those fleeing the Syrian Civil War, now approaching its sixth year.
The results of a competition to propose an openable roof over the Arena di Verona, Italy have been announced. Three winners were chosen out of eighty-seven proposals to cover the famous amphitheater, a defining symbol of the city of Verona. The competition was announced in March 2016 in order to protect the Roman monument from the elements and to ensure that it continues to provide quality entertainment to spectators two thousand years after its construction.
Autodesk's Generative Design Pavilion Plays with Properties and Fabrication Processes in Stone and Fabric
At Autodesk's 2016 conference in Las Vegas, a team from Autodesk's BUILD Space led by principal research engineer Andrew Payne collaborated with manufacturer Quarra Stone, engineers Simpson Gumpertz and Heger, and University of Michigan assistant professor Sean Ahlquist to unveil its new Generative Design Pavilion. The project is an exploration of materiality, with stalagmite stone forms that rise up from geometric floor panels to meet fabric that stretches down from a canopy above. The junction of textile and stone aims to emphasize the distinct behaviors of the two materials.
When you think of original designs, you know that you're talking about something unique and special. An innovative design that can change our perception and visual culture: that is exactly what the German designer Elisa Strozyk does with Wooden Textiles, a product line that mixes wood with fabric.
The designer shows us that innovation remains a fundamental part of design. She imbues wood with living properties and turns it to a flexible fabric with unpredictable movements, changing its color and texture. It’s an astonishing use of this traditional material to create new forms and experiences.
Henning Larsen has been selected to design a pavilion for Denmark for the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. Opening on Ipanema Beach from August 4-21, 2016, the pavilion – named “The Heart of Denmark” – will feature a tent structure that utilizes building techniques appropriated from sailboat construction. Inspired by Denmark’s maritime history, Danish architecture, the landscape of Rio de Janeiro and the buildings of Oscar Niemeyer, the pavilion will marry aesthetic iconography of both Denmark and Brazil.
Fabric is viewed as a material which is flat and two-dimensional and thus, until recent times, it has been used in architecture as a surface sheet. However the material has not been fully exploited.
Developed by four Masters students from the Bartlett School of Architecture in London, FaBrick is a prototype for creating sturdy structures out of textile-based materials. So far consisting of a stool made from a fabric impregnated with cement and a chair made of a felt composite, the project aims to develop a "technique of designing fabric to become the new brick, the new concrete in the invention of architecture."
Using an innovative method of casting concrete in lightweight fabric molds, the architects of Orkidstudio -- along with StructureMode -- teamed up with a group of Khmer women in Sihanoukville, Cambodia to rebuild a community centre in the city’s urban heart.
The construction technique was developed and tested by engineers from StructureMode using a combination of physical testing and computer analysis software, Oasys GSA Suite, to predict the stretch of a particular fabric when concrete is poured inside. Through three-dimensional sketches the seamstresses and building team could understand the construction sequence of the form, completing the entire project in just eight weeks.
After months of design refinement and engineering, Synthesis Design + Architecture (SDA), winners of the "Switch to Pure Volvo" architecture competition, have launched a free-standing mobile pavilion capable of harnessing solar energy to power the new Volvo V60, the world's first diesel plug-in hybrid car. The 'Pure Tension' Pavilion was birthed by SDA's extensive research on dynamic mesh relaxation, utilizing bendable, lightweight aluminum structures with flexible fabrics that can be stored in the trunk of the car and easily mounted within one hour, similar to a tent.
The space of sound created by Carlito Carvalhosa’s Sum of Days on exhibit at MoMA until November 14, 2011 is a sublime environment of billowing white fabric and the white noise of the atrium reflected upon itself. The psuedo-boundaries established by the translucent material that hang from the ceiling create a confined space of light and ambient sound – fleeting and ephemeral. Upon entering the exhibit, you pass an array of speakers affixed to the wall. They are emitting a low hum – the sound of voices and echoes that are distant, yet recognizable. It is unclear at first from where these sounds are originating, but behind the fabric bodies are drifting in and out of view. The curtains, which are constantly swaying, direct you in an ellipse to the center of the space where a single microphone hangs, picking up the noise within the exhibit and sending them to the dozens of speakers that hang at intervals inside the curtains, along the walls of the exhibit, and up through the galleries at the mezzanine levels that overlook the atrium.
Architects: LAVA – Chris Bosse, Tobias Wallisser and Alexander Rieck Location: Sydney, Australia Project year: 2008 Project Team: Chris Bosse, Tobias Wallisser, Alexander Rieck Collaborators: Jarrod Lamshed, Esan Rahmani, Kim Ngoc Nguyen, Anh Dao Trinh, Erik Escalante Mendoza, Pascal Tures, Mi Jin Chun, Andrea Dorici Materials: Specially treated high-tech Nylon and light Area: 300 sqm Volume: 3,000 sqm Fabrication and installation: Mak Max Photographs: LAVA