Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Fabric Art and Architecture

I like all types of temporary structures. The definition vary from one city to another city but they are generally built without foundation. In most cases, these non-traditional structures are constructed in a short time with a limited budget and secondly they perform beyond shelter. They tell stories of people. They create spaces which encourage participation of people. They are the least obtrusive to nature. They are versatile. And a majority of them have fabric as one of the main materials. Now you know, why I have an affinity with these fabric structures.

There are countless examples of fabric structures around us. Just few to mention-circus tents, kiosks, umbrellas, huge inflatable structures, green houses and so on... They also encompass awnings, canopies, geodesic domes, grid shell structures, tensile structures and inflatable structures. While they vary in scale, function and the designs, they all use fabric as a main material. Fabric are typically coated and laminated with synthetic materials for strength and environmental resistance such as wind, rain and sun. I have chosen a few examples varying in scale from a small sculpture in the room to an airport roof, all made up of fabric and beautiful representative of fabric structures.  The artists, architects and the contractors have pushed the boundary through the design and execution.

Fabric Sculptures
1. Small scale
Starting with sculpture- Jens. J. Meyer, an artist from Germany uses fabric and carbon rods or bamboos for support. This sculpture is fold able, transportable, and independent of a specific site.
Kubus - sculpture and photo credit- Jens J. Myer

Size-2.35m x 2.35m x 2.35 m.
I love "Kubus", a tension textile sculpture, made in
1998 by Jens J. Meyer.

For more of his work-

2. Large scale Fabric Sculpture in Paris
Another large scale sculpture is  by Anish Kapoor. "Leviathan", a large and incredible sculpture, tightly stretched PVC red color fabric over a metal frame is my favorite.
Photo Credit-

Photo Credit -
 38 meters tall x 100 m long X 70 meters deep
The 38-meter high  red tinted structure aims to engulf and overwhelm the participants and viewers. By installing in Grand Palais, the artist is creating space withing a space. It is like a formless monster does not fit and pushes us to think or inquire. His words, “People will be invited to enter the artwork, to immerse themselves in its color and it will be I hope a contemplative, poetic experience.”

This sculpture needs to be experienced with the use of video due to the scale variations and distinct inside and outside space.

Fabric Structures, Small scale-
1.The Sail, Jakarta, Indonesia, built in 2005
Fabric- Polyester coated with PVC, height- 17 meter ( ft) , Advance Membrane System Pte Ltd
Photo Credit -Advance Membrane System Pte.

The project was completed in 9 to 10 months and the fabric structure is integral to the design of the building. The building was designed to have a strong iconic image of the real estate company, "The Sail" and another criteria for design was to withstand high wind from the sea. 
The building along with the fabric sails on the roof satisfy both the criteria. It does have a nice scale of fabric and the building. I am not sure that they use terrace of the building.

Fabric Structures - Large scale, Permanent 
1. Denver Airport, USA  completed in 1995
Architect Curtis Fentress broke the traditional icon of airport and designed internationally acclaimed Denver International Airport. The fabric roof and its form was inspired by Colorado's rocky snow covered mountains. The series of roof covers 1200ft x240ft space.

View from Inside- photo credit-
View from Inside- photo credit-

This graceful, lightweight structure incorporates innovative steel cable systems and two layers of PTFE Teflon coated fabric membranes to ensure sound control and sufficient insulation against Denver’s demanding climate conditions.

Fabric Pavilion - Site specific and Portable
1. Burnham Pavilion, Chicago, USA built in 2009
    A temporary pavilion was designed and erected in Chicago’s Millennium Park as part of the Burnham Plan celebrations by an Iraqi-British architect, Zaha Hadid. She is internationally well known for her architectural work and ranked 69th on the Forbes list of "The World's 100 Most Powerful Women"  in 2008. 

    Photo Credit -
    The foot print of this pavilion is 300 sq. meters. More than 7,000 pieces of aluminum- no two alike- were individually bent and welded together, creating the pavilion's curvilinear form. Thousands of yards of fabric were custom tailored and tightly fit onto the interior and exterior aluminum-tube structure.
    Photo Credit-

    This fluid structure plays with shadow, light and space, perfect space for exhibiting Chicago's history. I really dig the simplicity of final form, knowing how complex the structural framework is. The drawing above shows that.
    Her un-conventional architectural forms are intricate with complex geometry, they require innovative process of construction.

    I do want to include two links to videos -
    1. Anish Kapoor is describing his sculpture and by watching this,  you will get the scale of this sculpture ( Beautiful lights and structure of the old building) 

    2- Burnham Pavilion by Zaha Hadid Architects Time Lapse Video by Tom Rossiter- (nice music)

    In the next post,  I will cover few small scale fabric structures, mass produced, commercialized and available easily for various short term events.

    Saturday, October 22, 2011

    Fabric of Our Lives

    Design of buildings and cities requires the basic understanding of human behavior however the knowledge of building materials is crucial. I always look for opportunity to explore various materials. In the past, I have experimented with concrete, metals, tiles, stones and plastic. But recently I got a chance to work with fabric or I deliberately chose to experiment with the fabric as I always love the feel and look of textiles from all over the world. In the past, I had made few paintings of flying Saree. Below is one digital painting, printed on canvass of flying Saree in the mountains.
    Flying Saree
    I am starting to understand the manufacturing process of fabric along with its property. On the other side, I am scratching the surface and getting lost in a whole world of flowing fabric. So for some time, I am going to be fabric and interlace the fields of fabric. Today, I want to talk about the use of Fabric and Textile in our life.

    Fabric is a flexible and pliable material. It is soft unlike concrete, wood or stones. The term, textile and fabric is used interchangeably. The fabric is defined as  "artifact made by weaving or felting or knitting or crocheting natural or synthetic fibers". Everyone knows of its use in clothing to cover the human body. But fabric has penetrated in every industry and has become part of our life. Today we can not live without it. I have just illustrated below the types and uses of textile. In the next post, I want to bring to your attention few examples of textile in Art and Architecture.

    In the meantime, attached is a link associated with the term- "fabric of our lives" Cotton industry promoting cotton through this video- very sensuous !