Prototyping Architecture at the Building Centre, London, UK

Sean Ahlquist presented the research, co-authored with Julian Lienhard (Univ. of Stuttgart), "Exploring Material Reciprocities for Textile-Hybrid Systems as Spatial Structures" at the Prototyping Architecture International Conference at the Building Centre in London, UK on 21 February 2013. 


This paper describes research in developing design frameworks and materialization methods for forming intricate textile hybrid structural systems. Characterized as a force-active system, a textile hybrid structure is comprised of tensile surfaces operating in equilibrium with networks of elastically bent elements. The complexities of such material-inherent behaviour necessitate a coordinated series of multi-scalar prototyping processes. Executed effectively, such a methodology establishes fundamental methods for material behaviours made accessible for early design investigations of force-active materially-informed architectures. Complexity, in this instance, is innate, a repercussion of the inextricable relations between topology, structural behaviour and materialization. Prototyping serves to simultaneously resolve such mutual relationships. In placing primacy upon the processes which span across a series of diverse prototypes, the approach yields increasingly generalized methods, establishing fidelity between the processes of computational formation and material operation. As an active evolving agent, the accumulation of diverse design instances helps develop purpose-built procedures into robust generalized frameworks, by combining both computational intelligence and physical feedback. This paper shall describe a series of specific exemplars, of differing scales and degree of performative and geometric complexity, which realize a versatile design framework addressable to a wider range of behaviour-based structures beyond iterations of the prototypes themselves.


Ahlquist, S., Lienhard, J., Knippers, J. and Menges, A.: 2013, Exploring Materials Reciprocities for Textile-Hybrid Systems as Spatial Structures, in: Stacey, M. (Ed.), Prototyping Architecture: The Conference Papers, The Building Centre, London.