Why fabric?

15Feb10

It’s getting to be time for me to have an interim review of my work to date. As I’m inviting guests to come in to critique my work, I’m realizing how very few architecture people work with fabrics as compared to the general architectural populace. Why is that?

It’s led me to try to answer the question of why I, personally, am so drawn to fabric architecture. The most compelling reason I’ve come up with so far is that despite the exuberant forms there’s nothing superfluous about it. Beginning with the tent and fabric dwellings of native peoples throughout the world and leading up to the modern work of architects/engineers like Frei Otto, these structures are intellectually simple (though often technically complex). Stretch or drape fabric over a frame. My brain likes this. The work of Frank Gehry and Zaha Hadid, whose work certainly has its merits, seems to rely on curving forms that are aesthetic rather than integral to the structure. My brain doesn’t like this. Is it the hidden armature necessary to support these types of structures that I object to?

This liking and disliking does not make my personal task to envision and design with fabric any easier. But having thought just a bit more about the appeal of tents and fabric architecture feels good. While others find their logical simplicity in geometric/platonic ideals-right angles, post and beam, I guess I’m drawn to tension. I’m not sure where I’m going with this, but want to put these thoughts out there for feedback.

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One Response to “Why fabric?”

  1. Intriguing, how would I make use of this?


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