IMD _Institute of Media and Design

copyright _IMD

MEDIA DESIGN | Floating Concrete Shells

The project investigates the emerging potentials of „Concrete Canvas“
a novel high performance textile material, that is filled with concrete powder.
The Textile reacts with water and becomes stiff after the drying/hardening process.

Therefore the new Material combines the properties of a fabric by allowing
flexible modulation and form-finding with those of concrete which is
structurally valid. Due to the material properties and available sizes it is perfectly suitable for the creation of hanging chain or catenary models.

In this method usually planar textile pattern are impregnated with
plaster and afterwards fixed into a frame, due to self weight and gravity
the fabric is relaxing into tension only hanging structures. By flipping the
catenary forms after the drying process, the resulting shell structures are
in pure compression loading.

This type of analog structural simulation was investigated in the past especially by Hans Isler, who used this experimental form-finding method
for model making shell structures. Afterwards he was using the results
for the design of extraordinary previously unseen Thin-Shell Structures.

The novelty of Concrete Canvas is therefore the possibility to build
full-scale structures directly from the material, due to the available
sizes and thickness.

Within the project different textile handling methods -like folding or stitching- were investigated to enhance the structural performance of the resulting catenary shells. Therefore folds and creases were modulated into the planer Concrete Canvas sheet material that were explicitly intended as structural entities like a truss or beam.

The “Floating Concrete Shell” research project was executed as a series of experiments, in which the material performance and its structural limits were continuously challenged and enhanced.


Directed by: Daniel Büning