3D Printing on textiles as means of material-informed design strategy for performative building envelopes

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3D print, 3D printing on textiles, architecture, digital fabrication, engineering, research, teaching, textile facade, textiles, TU Berlin

Textiles have been used in architecture ever since humankind began to build. Already nomadic tribes have used their tensile strength, flexibility and adaptability to build their first shelters. Nowadays, the development of highly engineered fibers with growing strength-to-weight ratio as well as new production technologies allow for re-introducing textiles into the build environment as smart and sustainable solution. Considering the impact of the climate change and diminishing energy recourses, the search for more energy-efficient strategies is inevitable. Building envelopes, as the interface between buildings and environment, have potential to optimize the transfer of air, water, heat, light and noise by increasing the synergy with nature and adapting to the ever-changing environment.

The proposed research topic investigates potential of utilizing new fabrication technologies such as 3D printing for the production of lightweight, performative textile facades. Rapidly evolving 3D printing technologies become more advanced and robust, but also more affordable and accessible. Combination of such technologies with recent inventions on the molecular level of material composition allow for the creation of new textile structures that adapt, self-actuate and reconfigure.

The design methodology relies on 3D printing on top of a pre-stressed fabric, which is one of the methods for transforming textiles into desired three-dimensional shapes developed by the MIT Self Assembly Lab. Once the fabric is released from the pre-stressed state, it folds into a specific shape – the result of the interplay between the tensile forces of the fabric and the stiffness of the 3D printed geometry. The technique takes advantage of the elasticity and self-shaping properties of such structures while looking into performance, materiality, modularity and scalability of the outcome. This robust methodology for creating three-dimensional, lightweight textile structures has a lot of potential applications as building envelopes that either actively or passively respond to the environmental conditions.

[ongoing PhD research, TU Berlin]


PhD candidate: Agata Kycia, Supervisors: Prof. Ignacio Borrego [TU Berlin], Prof. Jürgen Weidinger [TU Berlin], Prof. Christiane Sauer [Weissensee Kunsthochschule Berlin]

Current publications on that topic can be found here:


CA²RE PROCEEDINGS, Aarhus School of Architecture , June 2018

[ISBN: 978-87-90979-78-2]



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