Zaha Hadid Architects and ETH Zurich developed a double-curved concrete shelled pavilion, constructed using a 3D-knitted formwork.
Displayed in Mexico City the pavilion named KnitCandela was built using KnitCrete – a new 3D-knitted textile technology for creating curving concrete structures, without the need for expensive and time-consuming moulds.
The colourful pavilion is called KnitCandela in homage to the work of Spanish-Mexican architect and engineer Félix Candela, who created dramatic curved concrete shells in his buildings such as the Los Manantiales Restaurant in 1958.
Over two miles of yarn was knitted into four strips of between 15 and 26 metres in just 36 hours using a digital fabrication technique, then flown over from Switzerland to Mexico in suitcases.
The lower layer forms the visible ceiling – a designed surface with a colourful pattern. The upper layer contains sleeves for the cables of the formwork system and pockets for simple balloons, which, after the entire structure is coated in concrete, become hollow spaces that help save on materials and on weight. Manufacturing a formwork for such a geometrically complex structure using conventional methods would cost substantially more in both time and material.
In total the knitted fabric weighs just 25 kilograms and the cable net 30 kilograms, whilst the concrete shell weighs 5 tonnes.
This new KnitCrete systems simplifies and streamlines the process of creating complex double-curved concrete shapes with an easily transportable system that keeps costs low, claims the architects.
KnitCandela is part of ZHA’s first exhibition in Latin America.
Zaha Hadid Architects (ZHA) computation and design research group (ZHCODE) collaborated with ETH Zurich‘s Block Research Group (BRG) to design and manufacture the system. Architecture Extrapolated (R-EX), who are engaged in a process of digitising Mexico’s building trade, managed the project’s execution at the MUAC.