Fabric Cast Concrete . . . The Construction Method Of Future
Designers Ron Culver and Joseph Sarafian have developed a method of casting concrete in Lycra stretched by robotic arms, which they believe could be used to create radical new architectural forms
Carried out at the University of California, the Fabric Forms project involves pouring a concrete fibre glass mixture into Y-shaped Lycra sleeves stretched into position by six-axis robots.
Because it is easy to produce, the fabric allows users to create many shapes without having to cast a unique mould every time they produce a new shape.
This lends itself well to parametric design, where dramatic forms can be achieved by digitally altering a set of variables at the design stage.
“Parametric design is increasing the need for variation, much of which goes unbuilt because of traditional construction methods’ failure to adapt to new digital technologies,” Sarafian said.
“We see Fabric Forms as one of many ways to bridge that gap… It allows us to create compound curvature out of a cast object that would otherwise be destroyed when rigid formwork is removed.”
It is also, according to the designers, a more sustainable alternative that would reduce labour and material costs, as well as being faster than traditional construction methods.
“Traditional casting methods are both labour intensive and unsustainable,” Sarafian said. “Plywood formwork is often stripped and discarded after concrete has cured.”
“Each unique shape requires a unique mould. The increased cost associated with a variable design often discourages architects from deviating from repetition.”
The designers pre-programmed the stretching movements using Grasshopper3D and Kangaroo software, allowing each of the pieces to be designed to fit together.
Once the concrete is set, the fabric is then stripped away, leaving minimal waste. The pieces take approximately 45 minutes to harden and are fixed together using a 3D-printed coupler to create larger assemblies that could in future be used as decorative facades or even load-bearing structures.
Credit to Dezeen