Weaving is not a technique usually associated with architecture. The method of interlacing textiles, thread and yarn to form swaths of cloth has been around for millennia and has been integral to the craft-based practices of material production. Weaving has also been used as a descriptive analogy for the delicate intermingling of elements that make up the “social fabric.” Yet even before entertaining the notion of an abstract woven “fabric” of social relations in architecture, we can turn towards the basic structural and aesthetic reflections of woven forms in the construction of a building.
If weaving has generally been used in the production of cloth materials whose purpose is to drape and cover the body and other forms, it makes sense that weaving in the context of architecture might be deployed to constitute the building’s envelope, shell or façade. The following collection of projects feature different manifestations of the concept of woven materiality, all of which are found in the building’s structural enclosure. While some are in fact physically woven from wood or metal, others only allude to weaving through an aesthetic interpretation that symbolically nods to the technique.
The Aspen Art Museum by Pritzker Prize-winning Shigeru Ban utilizes the architect’s favored wood material in a woven panel façade that overlays a structural glass space-frame. The warm wood panelling protects the interior gallery spaces and evokes both the hand-crafted aesthetic Ban is known for and the surrounding vegetation.
Inspired by the tradition of wickerwork weaving found in Spain, this temporary national pavilion honored the craft techniques of weaving and also simultaneously demonstrated its unexplored construction applications. The woven wickerwork is found in both the East and West, displaying a material that symbolically spans cultures for the international expo.
A curved mesh screen that is a combination of both latitudinal and longitudinal cross-weaving is formed into intersecting planes of finely textured metal. These undulating surfaces mirror those found in the “stitching” of the metal scrim.
The broadly woven bands of this hewn marble façade are meant to evoke the neighborhood’s past and continuing textile manufacturing to attract businesses and development to the area. The strips of marble cladding frame views from interior office and retail space, and extend beyond the roofline to form crenellated interstices.
Yong He Yuan is a residential complex of two tower buildings clad in stark black panelling of granite and aluminum. The cladding is woven into a pattern of horizontal and vertical bands that express both the structural makeup of the building and a vernacular motif modernized in the sophisticated materials of the façade.
Utilizing a traditional Japanese joint-system called “Jiigoku-Gumi,” the form of this building for a small bakery is derived from the composition of a bamboo basket. The joint-system, normally intersecting in two planes, is here expanded to three dimensions, giving the building an intermittently transparent cloud-like volume.
Another Kengo Kuma design, this university research building is composed of unevenly spaced wooden branches that overlap and descend gradually across the streetscape to form a smooth façade of natural materials. The thatched and woven pattern of the different wood layers add texture and warmth to the surrounding area.