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KnitCandela nominated for Structural Awards 2019

KnitCandela—a thin, sinuous concrete shell built on ultra-lightweight knitted formwork—has been nominated by the Institution of Structural Engineers for the 2019 Structural Award.

Installed at Museo Universitario Arte Contemporáneo, Mexico City, KnitCandela is an experimental structure designed by ZHCODE that pays homage to the architect & engineer Félix Candela—reimagining his inventive concrete shell structures through the introduction of new computational design methods and innovative KnitCrete knitted formwork technology.

KnitCrete is a material-saving & cost-effective knitted formwork system to cast double-curved geometries in concrete. Developed at ETH Zurich by Block Research Group in collaboration with the Swiss National Centre of Competence for Research, KnitCrete enables the realisation of a wide range of anticlastic geometries. With this cable-net and fabric formwork system, expressive concrete surfaces can now be constructed efficiently, without the need for complex moulds.

KnitCandela’s thin, double-curved concrete shell with a surface area of almost 50 sq.m and weighing more than 5 tonnes, was applied on a KnitCrete formwork of only 55 kg. The knitted fabric of the formwork system was carried to Mexico from Switzerland in just two suitcases.

Designed to be constructed within a tight schedule, restricted space and minimal budget, KnitCandela demonstrates the rapid evolution of digital design & fabrication to the challenges faced by the construction industry, integrating digital fabrication with the skills of traditional craftsmanship and construction methods.

Architecture Extrapolated (R-Ex) managed KnitCandela’s construction as part of their work integrating digital technologies in building trades in Mexico.

The Structural Awards shortlist

Photograph by Juan Pablo Allegre