Structural design, digital fabrication and construction of the cable-net and knitted formwork of the KnitCandela concrete shell

Mariana Popescu*, Matthias Rippmann, Andrew Liew, Lex Reiter, Robert J. Flatt, Tom Van Mele, Philippe Block

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

This paper describes the structural design, digital fabrication and construction of KnitCandela, a free-form, concrete waffle shell with KnitCrete, a falsework-less formwork approach using a custom prefabricated knitted textile as multi-functional, structural shuttering layer and a form-found cable net as the main load-bearing formwork. The digitally designed and fabricated textile provided integrated features for inserting and guiding elements such as cables and inflatables that helped shape the sophisticated mould. With a total weight of only 55 kg, the 50 m2 formwork was easy and compact to transport. On site, the formwork was tensioned into a timber and steel rig, the pockets were inflated, and then coated with a thin layer of custom-developed, fast-setting cement paste. This paste served as a first stiffening layer for the textile, minimising the formwork's deformations during further concrete application. Fibre-reinforced concrete was manually applied onto the formwork to realise a 3 cm-thick shell with 4 cm-deep rib stiffeners. The novel approach, for the first time applied at architectural scale in this project, enables the building of bespoke, doubly-curved geometries in concrete, with a fast construction time and minimal waste, while also reducing the cost and labour of manufacturing complex parts.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1287-1299
Number of pages13
JournalStructures
Volume31
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2021
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Concrete waffle shell
  • Digital fabrication
  • Flexible formwork
  • KnitCrete
  • Stay-in-place formwork
  • Weft-knitting

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