Exploring Textiles in Architecture through Tangible Three-Dimensional Sketching Tools

Elisabeth Jacobsen Heimdal, Torben Anker Lenau, Marie O'Mahony

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    This paper argues that tangible three dimensional sketching with textiles makes it more likely that these materials will be used when creating architectural spaces. Our research contributes to the more general idea that innovation in architecture and design can be stimulated by the exploration of new materials. With tangible three dimensional sketching, we mean an iterative process of physical model making. In two experiments with architectural students, all textile novices, spaces were modelled using a three dimensional sketching tool consisting of textiles, cardboard support and tools for giving form to and joining these materials. The chosen architectural task was how textiles could be used to regulate daylight by applying them to an exterior building skin or to interior spaces. Findings were that three different strategies were used: the tool was used to materialize, illustrate, or develop a concept. While the first two strategies use pre-existing ideas – respectively immaterialized (such as an idea) or materialized (such as an existing building or a sketch) – as point of departure, the third strategy uses the tool to develop new ideas. Our experiments demonstrate that textiles’ possibilities can indeed be explored through tangible three-dimensional sketching and that limitations and clear progression in the staging of the tool produce better models and deeper exploration. In order to extend the results to practice, a professional architect was interviewed. Based on this, we can say that the tools, though tested on students, are likely to work for professionals too.
    Original languageEnglish
    Publication date2012
    Number of pages25
    Publication statusPublished - 2012
    EventMAKING: International Conference on Materiality and Knowledge - Telemark University College, Notodden, Norway
    Duration: 24 Sep 201227 Sep 2012


    LocationTelemark University College
    Internet address


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