Appreciating the structural notions of architecture can lead to the creation of new and innovative products and design ideas. Issues such as active forms of support, transfer of loads and resisting forces, must have been for example behind the latest series of textiles developed by Studio Samira Boon.
As seen in previous posts, the Dutch architect, textile and accessory designer has been intensely researching innovative fabrics, designing a variety of experimental textiles characterised by an architectural twist and a strong tactile power.
Boon's vocabulary of shapes has recently enriched thanks to a new project that she dubbed Archi Folds, three-dimensional pleated structures endowed with great dynamic qualities.
The project - inspired by a challenge to examine scale/weight balance and whether a dome could be created as a foldable fabric structure for architectural applications - could be considered as the latest chapter in Samira Boon's studies on "Super Folds", that is complex self-folding textiles.
The new textiles were the result of a long and extensive research that combined traditional and complex mathematical folding techniques, Japanese origami and digital weaving skills to create architectural interventions.
"This ambitious project was a unique opportunity to examine the techniques to create architectural lightweight structures based on soft materials such as mohair, polyester or paper, aiming for an optimal utilisation of both qualities," Boon stated in an official press release.
The Archi Folds were developed in collaboration with the technical team of the Dutch TextielMuseum in Tilburg: as part of its R&D program, Studio Samira Boon was indeed invited to work with technical weavers from the Textile Lab to push to the limits the possibilities of the weaving machines.
Origami instantly conjure up in our minds delicate paper objects, but nowadays the folding technique behind this art has been employed for many different applications, in particular to transform a flat shape into an extremely compact package and expand it again by applying slight pressure or gently pulling on diagonal tension lines (even NASA studied it to transport its compact transport solar panels).
The technique was mimicked in the textile structures by applying varying tension to the fold lines in the textiles.
As the complexity and scale of these folds makes manual folding a difficult task, Boon set out to digitalise her own designs.
Once digitalised, the technical weaving specialist was appointed to programme the machines at the Textile Lab, and re-create the designs in 3D textiles, a challenge even for these advanced weaving machines due to the complexity and scale of the designs, weight and strength balance.
The designer first experimented with a wide range of materials such as paper, polyester, mohair and abaca, coming up with a series of structures that, offering Boon the chance to play with several qualities and dichotomies (hard and soft; technical and tactile...), could be used for architectural applications like space creators or dividing screens.
Boon also kept firmly in mind several principles including acoustic, heat-sensitive and light-sensitive properties.
The final result is a surface that, once removed from the loom, assumes the pre-programmed folds, thereby creating a 3D structure. The latter can be folded into a myriad of different shapes thanks to their structural flexibility directly borrowed from folding techniques mimicked in the textile structures by applying varying tension to the fold lines.
In this way two seemingly identical products can be installed in completely unique manners, re-used in different shapes/sizes, installed permanently or temporarily, and easily transported or moved thanks to their compact fold.
The folds are not an exclusively structural performance, they represent a convergence of art, architecture, textile dexterity, craftsmanship and mathematics with a touch of engineering, they are therefore an integral part of the design; they form a malleable yet consistently solid structure and could be considered as a physical representation of geometrical manifestations such as networks, waves, folds grids, ruled surfaces, spiral developments, algorithms, parametrization systems and so on.
The Archi Folds prototype and samples from the research phase are included together with designs by agency Inside Outside (led by Petra Blaisse) in the Co-Creation exhibition (until 17th March 2017) at the Dutch Textile Museum in Tilburg.
Image credits for this post
1. Archi Folds D-series, Archi Folds Diaphragm by Studio Samira Boon, 2015; Material: monofilament, acryl; Technique: weaving; Production: TextielLab; Collection: TextielMuseum; Photography: Josefien Eikenaar
2, 3. Archi Folds by Studio Samira Boon, 2015; the material on the loom; Technique: weaving; Production: TextielLab; Collection: TextielMuseum; Photography: Studio Samira Boon
4. Archi Folds M-series by Studio Samira Boon, 2015; The flexible structure offers a myriad of different shapes; Photography: Josefien Eikenaar
5. Archi Folds M-series by Studio Samira Boon, 2015; The structures include various properties such as light-sensitivity and transparency; Photography: Studio Samira Boon
6. Archi Folds M-series by Studio Samira Boon, 2015; The material on the loom; Photography: Josefien Eikenaar
7. 8, 9. Archi Folds M-series; The structures include various properties such as light-sensitivity and transparency; Photography: Studio Samira Boon
10, 11, 12. Archi Folds Y-series by Studio Samira Boon, 2015; Dome Structure, Deployment of the dome structure and inside the dome; Photography: Studio Samira Boon
13. Archi Folds Y-series by Studio Samira Boon, 2015; Production in the TexielLab, Tilburg, Netherlands; Photography: Studio Samira Boon
14, 15. Archi Folds Y-series by Studio Samira Boon, 2015; Deployment of the fold; Photography: Josefien Eikenaar
16. Archi Folds Y-series by Studio Samira Boon, 2015; Production in the TexielLab, Tilburg, Netherlands; Photography: Josefien Eikenaar
17. Archi Folds Y-series by Studio Samira Boon, 2015; Inspecting inside the dome; Photography: Studio Samira Boon
18. Archi Folds Y-series by Studio Samira Boon, 2015; Detail; Photography: Studio Samira Boon
19. Archi Folds Y-series by Studio Samira Boon, 2015; Archi Folds structures can be used as space creators and screen dividers, dome structure XXL; Photograhy: Rene van der Hulst
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