“[Textiles]… provide protection from heat and cold, absorb noise, and give control of the amount of light entering the view. Their manifold characteristics and application potentials make textiles a highly interesting architectural material. Textiles further possess very special, sensually tangible often poetic aesthetics.” Sylvie Krugër, Textile Architecture, (Berlin:Jolvis, 2009), p6

Both technology and textile are derived from the latin word texere – to weave, connect and/or construct.

Weaving is a crosscultural phenomenon, used as both a functional process and an art form. Each civilisation and culture developed their own unique design, material and colour palette informed by geography, material and climate. This is evident within the Berber culture and their woven rugs. The Berbers developed a variety of weaves that were dependent on the climatic conditions of the area. Larger loops, more loosely knotted were used in closer climates whereas finer weaves were used in warmer climates.


Weaving is one of the few techniques that encompasses three modes of production – hand made, mechanical and digital. It is through computational tools that antique craft based weaving techniques can be reinterpretedand used in innovative ways. (Oxman 2007; Thomsen and Tamke 2014)


Weaving is a binary process where warp and weft comprise the techniques fundamental organisation.


Braided structure



Weft knitted










Warp knitted





3D weaving

Source:Goran Demboski, Gordana Bogoeva G.;’Textiles structures for technical textiles’ in Bulletin of the Chemists and Technologists of Macedonia, Vol.24, No1, 2004


Textiles appear to be non structural, however with certain production methods, textiles have the potential to be strong. Their strength is based in their organisational composition. The rigidity in textiles is achieved through a dense weaving technique and the addition of seams in a geometric pattern that adds stiffness. The flexibility of textiles allows the material to counter the conventional rigid and static manner of dealing with forces of nature.

While traditional building methods of construction are based on stapling (bricks), casting (concrete) and welding elements (space frames and trusses), weaving offers structural stability of binding material (glue, nails etc) the weaving itself and friction is the binding solution. 

Textiles inherent porous property, another seemingly weak structural material quality, proposes a potential that may act against a conventional understanding of solid materials. Through the incorporation of the voided spaces, textiles can maximise surface coverage while minimising material use – varying the density and weight of the material through weaving patterns and processes.

Controlling the density of a fabric, allows environmental control through increased air ventilation and filtration, the air spaces found in porous textile tectonics are used to increase the insulation values, This strategy can be found in ‘primitive’ structures. 


PolyThread by Jenny Sabin

jenny sabin.jpg

PolyThread was generated mathematically, inspired by cellular networks. The installation is a freestanding inhabitable form featuring knitted lightweight, high-performing, formfitting and adaptive materials. The structure is made from digitally knitted fabric that is held in tension with fibreglass tubing. 

Integration of traditional and digital methods

Various braiding, knotting and weaving algorithms make it possible to generate interwoven objects seamlessly with the digital model and materialise them with rapid prototyping machines. 






woven house









Using the concept of weaving, Rizal Musimlin has created two new techniques to create a structure that responds to the climatic conditions.


Beadbricks allow variable levels of porosity in the facade that facilitates a microclimate. Bead bricks could thus allow architects to modulate the environmental factors including sunshine, wind, thermal mass and evaporative cooling. The system consists of two bricks, a and b with 4 basic rules that can generate shape.

Interweaving brick

Each brick is connected to the other bricks through the same axis using notches and tabs as the joint elements, creating both a self-supported surface and a mosaic of the pattern with little cement or mortar. Structurally, the checkered composition is more rigid than the continuous one, so the more the checkered rule is used, the firmer the surface will be.



New robotic and 3d printing technologies allow new production methods and weaving techniques to be possible.


Astbury, Jon. 2013. “Of Blocks and Knots: Architecture as weaving”. Architectural Review. https://www.architectural-review.com/archive/of-blocks-and-knots-architecture-as-weaving/8653693.article.

Cooke, Lacy & Cooke, Lacy. 2016. “How robots and carbon fiber could usher in the “fourth industrial revolution””. Inhabitat.com. http://inhabitat.com/how-robots-and-carbon-fiber-could-usher-in-the-fourth-industrial-revolution/.

Harvie, Gregor. 2016. “Thermal behaviour of architectural fabric structures – Designing Buildings Wiki”. Designingbuildings.co.uk. http://www.designingbuildings.co.uk/wiki/Thermal_behaviour_of_architectural_fabric_structures#The_thermal_behaviour_of_architectural_fabrics.

Muslimin, Rizal. “Learning from Weaving for Digital Fabrication in Architecture.” Leonardo 43, no. 4 (2010): 340-49. http://www.jstor.org/stable/40864128.

 Unknown 2016. “Carbon Weaving – Carbon Fibre Fabric Manufacturing Process”.Fibre2fashion.com. http://www.fibre2fashion.com/industry-article/7435/carbon-weaving-an-advance-technology.

Unknown. 2010. “Constructed Textiles”. Constructedtextiles.blogspot.se. http://constructedtextiles.blogspot.se/.

Goran Demboski, Gordana Bogoeva G.;’Textiles structures for technical textiles’ in Bulletin of the Chemists and Technologists of Macedonia, Vol.24, No1, 2004

Unknown. 2013. “University of Nicosia Department of Architecture [ARC] Team Wins 1st Prize at Sukkahville 2013 International Design Competition | Parametric design + generative architecture”.Parametricdesign.net. http://www.parametricdesign.net/?p=720.

Zoran, Amit. “Hybrid Basketry: Interweaving Digital Practice within Contemporary Craft.” Leonardo 46, no. 4 (August 2013): 324-331.




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