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Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Performative Skins Cluster - Smart Geometry 2011, Copenhagen...


Last week I took part in the Smart Geometry 2011 event in Copenhagen, during which I participated in a workshop cluster titled Performing Skins, championed by Mette Ramsgard-Thomsen and Ayelet Karmon. The outline for the cluster, sourced from the SG web-page, is included below...


This cluster will investigate the fabrication of three-dimensional knitted surfaces that provide an intelligent skin, are performative structurally, and are behaviourally responsive. 3D complex design strategies will be developed that allow for the creation of responsive fabric skin constructions. By combining advances in intelligent textiles with parametric modelling we will devise bespoke interfaces that link between standard architectural design software environments, CNC knitting machine (Stoll) and simple computational steering (Arduino).
The cluster uses parametric design tools to generate material fabrication code directly from digital design models, built in response to input data. Introducing conductive fibers and simple actuation, the produced materials will ask participants to model textile surfaces physically and computationally at a level that takes into account both the performance of the surface as a whole through its pattern, texture, materiality, flexibility, breathability, warmth and electronic interface. The cluster works as the interstices of architecture, fabric technology, passive and active responsive systems.

In the development of our designs, which involved (at least for me) a quite steep learning curve, we ended up using a variety of more recent plug-ins for Rhino, such as Grasshopper, Arduino and even Firefly along with VB Code and Excel... Along with mastering the softwares, we also needed to get to grips with the Stoll knitting machine (shown in action in one of the videos below)... In the eventual outcomes the cluster produced a number of textiles which, along with a number of additional thread types, also included a conductive thread that could be connected to the Arduino platform and used to 'sense' the presence of a/ any conductive body (see the video at the bottom of the page). In this instance, due to time constraints, we didn't use any physical actuators... Examples of the resulting textiles and display stands can be viewed below...

Overall the event was a very rewarding (though quite exhausting) experience and I'm already looking forward to next year's workshops and conference scheduled to take place in Troy, New York...



The Arduino microcontroller


Screenshot of Grasshopper


Above & below: Examples of the knitted textiles produced



Above & below: Examples of some of the display stands on/ around/ across which the textiles were displayed








Video of the Stoll knitting machine

Video of our textile in action (sensing a presence)...

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