Specialty Fabrics Review June 2019 - 50

FOCUS

ADVANCED TEXTILES

The Shed in New York
City is an arts center
for performing arts,
visual arts and popular
culture. The building is
designed to physically
transform to support
artists' most ambitious
ideas. Photo: Diller
Scofidio + Renfro.

Hidden textiles
Infrastructure and construction textiles succeed
with a focus on sustainable alternatives.
BY SESHADRI RAMKUMAR AND MARIE O'MAHONY

T

oday's advanced textiles offer new forms for use in infrastructure projects and in
building design and construction. These "hidden" textiles may be found in small-scale
applications such as home furnishings as well as in huge projects such as road building.
In many cases, sustainable options are growing, with novel advanced textiles taking the lead.

Greener blue jeans
The Blue Jeans Go Greenâ„¢ program
provides UltraTouchâ„¢ Denim Insulation
to Habitat for Humanity buildings.
Manufactured by Bonded Logic Inc., the
insulation is made from post-consumer
recycled denim and is environmentally
safe, carrying no carcinogenic warnings,
formaldehyde or chemical irritants.
It has shown extraordinary thermal
performance and 30 percent better
sound absorption than traditional
fiberglass insulation. It also contains
an active mold and mildew inhibitor.

50 REVIEW JUNE 2019

FLEXIBLE BUILDINGS
As technology has advanced and materials become lighter, buildings that actually move are
becoming increasingly possible-and are attracting attention. Shape-shifting is not readily
associated with a permanent building, but the recently opened The Shed arts center, which
overlooks New York's High Line, does just that. Designed by the architecture firm Diller
Scofidio + Renfro (DS+R), which is also responsible for designing the High Line, the arts
center has eight levels and houses performing and visual arts organizations as well as popular
cultural events and creative spaces.
The need for flexibility has been transformed into the building's own aesthetic. Ethylene
tetrafluoroethylene (ETFE) pillows create a translucent telescopic outer shell that can be
deployed to glide along rails to meet an adjoining plaza, effectively doubling the building's
footprint when it is needed for larger events. Power, lighting and theatrical rigging are all
integrated into the soft structure held on a steel frame that acts as a skeleton.
The architects' vision is for a building whose "open infrastructure can be permanently
flexible for an unknowable future and responsive to variability in scale, media, technology
and the evolving needs of artists."
The inspiration came from the work of British architect Cedric Price and the influential
Archigram Group, which conceived new forms of building and living in which programmable
spaces could be introduced that would be changeable at the behest of occupants rather than
prescribed by the designer or architect. In other words, a smart building.
MEDIATING TECHNOLOGY
Part of an architect's role has become mediating in the technological age so that the built
environment can interface with its inhabitants. Dutch architect Ben van Berkel says the
motivation behind the launch of his tech startup UNSense "is to use technology as a tool to
make the built environment more humane and healthy on a physical, mental and social level."



Specialty Fabrics Review June 2019

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