Scientists Knit Together a Tower


Researchers from Copenhagen, Denmark, have made the case that strong architectural structures do not have to be made out of hard materials such as concrete or steel.

Their proof is in the Hybrid Tower, an example of soft architecture that stands at 30 feet tall.

The crew at the Center for Information Technology and Architecture (CITA—a program at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts, School of Architecture) completed the tower, which is comprised of two components—bent glass fiber reinforced polymer rods and a custom CNC knit, which culminate in a structure that’s lightweight but can also withstand significant force. Pieced together with joints, the beams can withstand about 110 pounds each.

The team, comprised of architects, structural and textile engineers, material testing specialists and a knitting company, created a new simulation for their elastic material, which went through several analyses and material design phases.

The final shapes were knitted directly onto the CNC knitting machine, creating one large structural skin, contrary to the current popular approach of cutting patches out of large rolls and then sewing together the details.

“This laborious and wasteful process is cut short by the developed processes in ‘Hybrid Tower’. Here all details are embedded in the material itself and the final shape is directly knitted in the CNC knitting machine,” according to the school’s website.

This skin is a pre-stressed panel, which is rolled, tensioned, transported and erected on site. Six people can complete the structure’s assembly.

The tower was erected for a three-month exhibition in Guimaraes, Portugal, which the team calls a success.

“‘Hybrid Tower’ demonstrated throughout the three-month exhibition period the strength and high performance of bespoke knit material on a large scale and provided an exciting architectural intervention for the town, bringing new experience of a translucent and haptic textile architecture into the old urban environment.”


Tagged categories: Architecture; Building Envelope; Building materials; Design; Design build; EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa); Textured Coatings

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