In Mexico City, Zaha Hadid Architects and ETH Zurich constructed a double-curved concrete shelled pavillion out of a 3-D knitted formwork.
The pavilion is called KnitCandela—the name was coined in homage to the work of Spanish-Mexican architect and engineer Félix Candela, who created dramatic curved concrete shells in his buildings such as the Los Manantiales Restaurant in 1958.
KnitCandela is vivid with brilliant and rich colors. The pattern across the structure accentuates its frilled shape, which was designed to be reminiscent of the billowing folds of a traditional Mexican Jalisco dress.
The two companies built the structure using KnitCrete, a new 3D textile technology that is used to create curving concrete structures. The new technology rids the need for high-priced and laborious moulds that have been used in the past.
Over two miles of yarn was knitted into four strips of between 15 and 26 metres in just 36 hours using a digital fabrication technique. These were then flown over from Switzerland to Mexico in suitcases.
Once at the Museo Universitario Arte Contemporáneo (MUAC) in Mexico City, the four strips of seamless, double-layered fabric were suspended from a wooden frame using a tension cable-net system. 1,000 modelling balloons were inserted into the pocket between the two fabric layers to create the desired shape, before the exterior was coated in a special cement paste to make it rigid.
The concrete was added by hand, making the KnitCrete method a hybrid of digital innovation and traditional construction techniques. It streamlines the process of creating complex double-curved concrete shapes with an easily transportable system that keeps costs low.
KnitCandela is part of ZHA’s first exhibition in Latin America.