This paper approaches the development of fabric formwork from a non-scientific position of textile design and manufacture, where the adoption of more sophisticated textile technology proposes the manufacture of new types of flexible and permanent participating fabric formworks, fibre systems for reinforcing building components and geo-textiles. In-filled with concrete, aggregate or earth, tailored performance characteristics built-into the textile design can enhance the overall properties of formwork elements. The developments provide key pointers for the progression of the discipline and automation of the process.
The collaborative group funded under the EPSRC Limes Net International Research Mission ‘Structural Woven Formwork’ identified and presented the key characteristics and functionality of a range of textile reinforcements to include lightweight woven fabrics, shaped containment structures, geo-grid and retention structures. These were evaluated in terms of their capacity to fabricate new formwork structures. Responding to requirements for material efficiency, improved integral strength and adapting established formwork techniques to produce larger scale span structures, new ideas for in-filled formwork through the use of load-bearing 3D textile reinforcement evolved. Matched with specific formwork casting/construction methods, these structures could enhance and progress the scope, scale and performance of current formwork, or enable new structures that are difficult to achieve presently.