Tailoring fabric formwork

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


The paper reports on a current programme of study: exploring techniques, processes and materials translated from the textile and fashion industries to create sculptural architectural elements from concrete cast in a flexible fabric formwork. The scope of work looks to prototype many different column forms using tailoring techniques.
Previous research at the University of Edinburgh has often used a simple geometry for the fabric with the use of external constraints for impressions and to create form. This new research centres on using tailoring and textiles solely to create form. The project is cross-disciplinary working across both textiles and architecture. The programme has created a series of prototype columns scaled to study particular articulations of geometry and following a defined formula that allows for the easy comparison of the differing techniques utilised in constructing the formwork.
Complex two-dimensional cutting patterns are stitched together to form organic three-dimensional elements that respond to the hydrostatic pressure concrete exerts on the formwork. The research also involves analysing the use of internal webs of textile as tension elements to control these pressures and as another vehicle for creating form. The internal tension webs operate form actively, as opposed
to the previous research where external restraints were inefficiently resisting compression forces.
The body of work emphasises the inherent nature involved in concrete casting, exposing the process that is driven by natural gravitational force and controlled restraint and relaxation. The aim is to develop an appropriate paradigm for tailored concrete formwork that maintains the inherent simplicity of the process and constructive logic.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the International Society of Flexible Formwork (ISOFF) Symposium 2015, Amsterdam
PublisherKoninklijk Instituut Van Ingenieurs
Number of pages13
ISBN (Print)9789053630426
Publication statusPublished - 17 Aug 2015

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