Conference Workshop 9: Textile architecture (in)formed by wind - Design processes and tools
Conference contribution, 2018

Textiles as design materials in architecture are considered formless. In tensile architecture, textiles are designed to follow a predesigned shape, with coated woven fabrics stretched until the resulting shape is virtually stiff; this to avoid deformation by wind. But what happens if we allow movement in the textile? What if wind becomes a design variable to decide upon the expression of textile architectural form? As a building material, textiles are starting to gain more interest in architecture. The possibility of creating seemingly endless variations of textiles with different behaviour and functionalities is very appealing from a design perspective. It is an easily transported and lightweight material and can be made from a range of different yarns, including reused textile fibres and wood, which gives it a great potential to be a sustainable choice for architecture.

This research workshop at the AAG - Advances in Architectural Geometry 2018 Conference explored the design processes and tools related to textile architecture formed by wind. On one hand, we focused on how the internal structure of textiles affects their behaviour and geometric expression when in movement. On the other, we experimented with diverse tools useful for designing such textile architecture in movement, ranging from digital simulations of aesthetic expressions and behaviours, through structural property assessment, up to physical models set in motion by moving air.

The workshop used a combination of computational tools, embracing C++ code, Processing code, and the physics simulation engine Flexhopper within a visual programming environment Grasshopper, to investigate fabric geometry and behaviours at scales from the knitting and weaving of individual yarns to large-scale fabric structures. At the small scale, we were focusing on topology and graph theory. At the large scale, the interaction of fabric and wind was of prime interest. The emphasis was on geometry, physics and artistic expression of textile in motion. Participants were given a simple source code which could be modified, even by those with little experience of programming. Throughout the workshop, the participants received a basic introduction in different textile morphologies, from the structure and geometries of the treads in the woven and knitted textile to the shapes and application in a building scale. They also had the possibility to explore different behaviours of a special smart textile material whose structure could be altered using heat. The relationship between the two scales of textile design was explored both physically and digitally. How does the geometry of the threads affect the overall shape? Participants worked with both computer models as well as physical models, to gain an understanding for the geometry of the textile material, learn about different ways and means of simulating textile behaviour in movement, and get a comparison of the challenges brought in by each type of simulation. A large number of small-scale and large-scale models were produced during the workshop and showcased during the conference exhibition.

Workshop participants (alphabetical order)
David Andreen (Lund University, Sweden), Matt Ault (Manchester School of Architecture, UK), Mathias Bernhard (ETH Zurich, Switzerland), Greg Constantinos, Nikoletta Karastathi (University College London, London, UK), Joanna Lesna (Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts, Denmark), Oldouz Moslemian (Aalto University, Finland), Hiroyuki Tachikawa (Keio University, Tokyo, Japan).

Computational wind simulation

Kinetic architecture

Architecture and wind

Digital design

Architectural expression and esthetics

Digital tooling

Computational architectural design

Architectural textiles


Delia Dumitrescu

University of Borås

Benjamin Felbrich

ICD/ITKE - Institute for Computational Design and Construction, University of Stuttgart

Erica Hörteborn

Research - Architectural Theory and Method

Christopher John Kenneth Williams

Research - Architectural Theory and Method

Malgorzata Zboinska

Research - Architectural Theory and Method

Advances in Architectural Geometry 2018
Gothenburg, Sweden,

Subject Categories

Architectural Engineering



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