Folding in Research

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The paper describes how the research collaboration between design faculty and the research arm of one of the world’s largest concrete and cement manufacturers can serve as a basis for advanced building technology courses and provide internship opportunities for the students to further deepen the knowledge they gained in the class. The larger context of the course is the recent advancement in concrete mix technology and the resulting opportunities to develop novel fabrication and construction techniques.

The paper showcases a professional elective course (seminar) that was structured around an advanced concrete cast technology that allows concrete forms to be poured onto flat formwork that is wet-folded into its final form, reducing the need for complicated formwork to achieve more geometrically complex concrete elements. After the seminar concluded, one of the students had the opportunity to further assist and develop the project during the summer as an intern at the research and development lab of the concrete company that provided the mix for the class.

In an effort to showcase a lineage between course work and student internships, the paper focuses on one of the projects that used the approximation of a shell structure through a folded triangulation (coined ‘creased shell’). The geometry was developed and tested in collaboration with the faculty and further developed in collaboration with the industry partner. The results of that project became a key component of the overall research work the course was embedded in. Therefore, the paper will reflect, in the context of such research projects, a collaboration between the material industry and the academy that can offer valuable opportunities for students to gain access to advanced material research through hands-on experience.

This paper showcases how material technology can foster new design strategies where architectural form emerges from a understanding of material properties and processes.