Welcome Fabric Architecture readers. It’s very exciting to have you here! Please explore and comment to your hearts’ content. I’ve also included a link to the final document if you’re interested in the summary of the product and process.

Sausen-Dancing Fabric thesis booklet

It’s been nearly a year since I presented my M.Arch thesis project. The past year has found me working to complete my Master of Science in Architecture-Sustainable Design track. I’m currently working on my thesis project. It involves textiles, of course. Cold climate claddings: Do textiles make the grade? My research looks at improving the energy and aesthetic performance of anonymous mid-century suburban office buildings. I plan to present the project in July.

Again, welcome! I look forward to hearing from some of you and opening up some dialogues about fabric architecture.


Yay, I’m a Master of Architecture! It’s such a funny degree name; it makes it sounds as if I know everything. The truth, though, is that I’ve acquired just enough knowledge to know how very much is out there to still learn. Here’s to a lifelong process-based project in understanding architecture!

I’ll get a post up with my final boards and some night shots of my full-scale installation very soon.

In the meantime, please enjoy the work of Mike Hara, http://thearchitectureofpossibility.wordpress.com. His project was one of seven projects to receive thesis awards. I don’t think the others have blogs, so if you’re passing through Rapson Hall, be sure to check out all the award-winning projects in the HGA Gallery.

Congratulations to all of my classmates! It’s been an honor to work alongside you for the past three years.

Are there things that could stand for improvement? Certainly. But as a single step in this semester-long process, I’m quite happy with it. It’s an especially sweet success for me after the many iterations over the weekend. It’s a proof of concept. It’s been so amazing to see everything I thought I knew foiled by the properties of the fabric itself. This fabric has enough stretch that it confounds my attempts to treat it as a sheet material; it is a sheet material, but one that does not maintain a consistent form or dimension.

If the weather forecast improves, I will install three planes outside Rapson as part of my final presentation. The morning may be dry, so keep your fingers crossed that I can get all three panels up. Otherwise, I’ll try to install one panel (or a partial deployment of a panel) inside the architecture building. I’ve been scoping out back-up locations today.

A beautiful installation by Kengo Kuma in Italy. I feel very awkward comparing myself to a master like Kuma-san, but it’s hard not to when I see light fabric (although this fabric is much more sheer and lovely than mine) stretched across a space with periodic openings. It’s just lovely and a nice thing to take a moment to enjoy during this last push to the end.

Via ArchDaily.

Fail again.

And again.

(what it should look like)

And again.

Then fail a little less.


You find success.

Tests for a full-scale mock-up of the fabric planes with framed openings. Coming soon to an urban space near you.

For reference: the vertical poles’ pockets are sewn with a triple stretch stitch and the horizontal pole pocket at the top and bottom are sewn with a straight stitch. (Funny, this sentence makes it sound like I know how to sew.)

Many thanks to my friendly helpers this weekend!

And an FYI: my final presentation will be in the HGA Gallery, Rapson Hall, 10am Weds. 12 May.

My adviser, Marc, has continually been encouraging me to be rigorous and follow a control and variable method of experimentation. I’m trying to be scientific and actually stick with it. What usually happens is that I’ll do a few experiments and then follow one meandering branch a ways and never getting around to doubling back to the original experiment.

The big themes that have been investigated this week are 1) connections between the planes, like the Ugly Baby experiments in cheesecloth that join multiple layers, and 2) the refinement of the opening through use of a lightweight frame. Both of these are being tested against patterns of movement through the openings; while a near infinite set of movements is not necessary (e.g. Intervention 16 has at least 426 possible paths) the opportunity for varied performances is important to maintain.

I posted the first 5 site intervention explorations early in the week. Here are some (poor) renderings and some screen shots of plans for selected options from Options 5-19. Works in progress, all.

Intervention 15 – planes with z connectors. The plan shows the possible movement paths highlighted; clearly this arrangement of opening (openings occur at the intersection of the z with the plane) is not effective in allowing dancers to move “forward” toward the audience.

Intervention 18 – framed opening create oblong openings and gentle three dimensionality to the entire plane. The openings allow for more visibility from layer to layer than seems necessary. Subtlety. Subtlety.

Intervention 19 – a connective membrane extends beyond the opening itself to maintain the angle of the opening. This conceals the opening and creates some nice layering and light effects at the opening where overlaps occur. In reality, a scheme like this may require some very particular lighting conditions to effectively show the layers, and the dancers among them, to best advantage.

The thesis doula, Gayla Lindt, asked me how I would know if I were successful in my site-based experiments. It was a really interesting question to consider since applying a real world context to the work brought in a dramatically new element.

I think the answer lies in several places. First, have I interpreted and applied the lessons I’ve taken from all of my previous studies? Particularly I’m looking to my planar studies and the subtraction cutting studies to inform any design ideas. Second, am I being true to the spirit of Serif and Flow, which inspired the entire project? Is this really the type of minimal construction that the dancers can both interact with and against? That is how I’ll measure success.

Here’s an image of Justin, who was kind enough to help me with the site-based fabric test. The transparency and suppleness of this fabric to telegraph the shape of his hand is great, great, great. These two qualities are key in how the structure performs; it can both conceal and reveal the body.