SOFT SPACE: AGILE INVOLUTION Sustainable Strategies for Textile Architecture

This interdisciplinary option studio will explore the integration of flexible solar nano-materials with lightweight textile construction as a new medium for soft space and distributed power generation. A set of intriguing formal problems is produced by the continuity and specificity required for the structural integrity of textile construction and the competing need for vertical disruptions in the textile surface ne-cessary for the integration of flexible solar arrays. Using digital modeling and pattern making techniques for textile construction, students will explore the soft space surface geometries of the agile involution, the exceptional condition present in forms such as the torus, the klein bottle and the heliocoid when a surface turns in on itself, moving smoothly from horizontal to vertical curvatures as its spatial reading transforms from volume to void. Using a lightweight textile construction, students in the studio will design projects for a Public Market Hall and Bus Terminal Building in the Centro District of Zacatecas, Mexico where there will be a sponsored studio trip in Ocober. The Centro District of Zacatecas is an important urban intersection which connects different economic neighborhoods with major Mexican Cities and remote villages in the Sierra Madre. The studio will take a non-nostalgic approach to the municipal needs of the program and the fluid demands of small scale market vendors and itinerant indigenous artisans in the economies of the informal sector. In their design projects, students will engage efficient textile spanning geometries with formal strategies of involution to create passages for day-lighting, ventilation and circulation and provide public resources for renewable distributed power to drive solid state lighting, fans for ventilation, and purify water through exposure to ultra-violet radiation. Excellent solar latitudes, a vibrant mix of public needs and an extraordinary topographical history of urban infrastructure in mining tunnels, cable cars, ramped streets and stairway passages provide the urban context for the next generation of fabric infrastructure. Students in the studio are encouraged to develop their own understanding of the material and spatial properties of sustainable textile architecture, and will have the opportunity in their design projects to combine and/or de-couple the known categories and behaviors of urban infrastructure, object appliance \’fixture\’ and architectural structure and surface as produced by 20th century centralized distribution paradigms. Students will visit the production facility of Saint-Gobain, the studio Sponsor, to learn about the material properties of Saint-Gobain architectural membranes and their computerized manufacturing, cutting, pat-terning and fabrication processes. Students will work in teams to analyze selected fabric structure prece-dents and explore how known fabric forms may be modified and morphed using 3-D modeling software. The re-discovery of \’lost\’ (pre-digital) techniques of modernism drawn from the work of Frei Otto, L. Nervi and F. Candela will enable students to verify the digital form making of their design projects with the physical modeling of complex fabric surfaces. Students will have the opportunity to work directly with Saint-Gobain membranes and flexible photovoltaic materials to develop their design projects with full-scale component models. Invited studio guests will include architects, technologists, structural engineers, cultural critics and membrane fabrication experts from Saint-Gobain. Interdisciplinary discussion and collaboration will be encouraged throughout the design process. This studio is sponsored by Saint-Gobain, a leading global manufacturer of high performance architectural membrane materials for architecture.