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A pavilion made of recycled colourful yarn

The 3DKnit pavilion, a collaboration project between Jane Scott of Responsiveknit and Stephanie Chaltiel of MuDD Architects, aims to highlight new fabrication methods that can be applied at an architectural scale.

Made of recycled colourful yarn, the pavilion was manufactured using 3D knitting. This technology allows to incorporate different aspects of the resulting textiles, including varying materials for the inner and outer face. It can also knit on the same machine bed tubular and plain shapes, incorporate lace patterns and a 3D shape in the fabric (flechage).

Presented at the Design Junction 2019 during London Design Festival 2019, the pavilion was manufactured at the University of Leeds by Jane Scott using Shima Seiki SDS1 Apex programming and a MAch2S 12gg Wholegarment machine. The benefit of using this machine is that it is possible to integrate all the featured required into one fabric, allowing for a very efficient fabrication in terms of material usage, production time and overall weight.

The team used a range of materials including Re_Diver recycled nylon, phosphorescent lurex, and acrylic. On the inside of the pavilion, blue yarn is available, a colour which doesn’t show on the outside. This technique, call plating, is programmed into the machine during processing and it is created by running multiple feeders simultaneously.

Integrated structural patterning was used to generate the repeating patterns of holes in the fabric, also called pointelle. There are two scales of holes, a simple pointelle that repeats over one course of knitting, and a three course repeat that generates the larger hole in the pattern.

3DKnit pavilion showcased the possibility of integrating the functional components in the structure knitted in one single piece. The two base patterns are knitted together across the width of the knitting machine. This allows to knit multiple structures within one fabric, resulting in an easy integration of the air beams.

The machine has the ability to hold stitches on the machine without knitting them, allowing the fabric to be produced in 3D. This is the technique used to construct the triangular shape of the 3DKnit pavilion.

Conventional transfer techniques that shape the fabric can alter the extensibility of the fabric. To avoid this and due to the scale of the knitting, the internal shaping was generated using flechage, meaning that there is more material in some areas and less in others. However, the reduced course lengths are not transferred, but held on the machine. For the pavilion, it has allowed the triangular forms to be created.

In the next stage, the team will further develop the different programming functions. The lightness of the fabric, increased by the pointelle technology and the resulting lace, allows the textile to be easily brought elsewhere. Additionally, it doesn’t require skilled fabricators on site to mount the structure.

The lightness, high quality finishing and freedom of 3D form makes 3DKnit pavilion particularly suitable to be used as a stay in place fabric formwork. The team will use the drone spray technique developed by MuDD Architects (read more about this technique here) to spray the 3D knitted bespoke structures, resulting in sturdy shell structures for housing for the Expo 2020 in Dubai.

Photos: Responsiveknit / MuDD Architects / Studio Naaro 

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