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Fabric Formwork: Breaking the Mould

Part 1 Dissertation 2013
Thomas Ferm
Edinburgh School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture | UK
This dissertation explores the recent resurgence in the exciting field of casting concrete into fabric formwork with a review of literature from across the globe, culminating with a hands-on project that provides a greater understanding of the points raised in this dissertation.

Ever since Francois Hennebique patented his concept for reinforced concrete, the formwork in which this ambiguous material has been cast has taken the form of rigid planar moulds. Fabric formwork fundamentally challenges the notions of casting into conventional timber lined formwork and is revealed as the key to unlocking the potential of what some term to be ‘Liquid Stone.’ The true nature of concrete is perhaps yet to be discovered. Nevertheless the result of casting concrete into fabric formwork provides the most convincing argument to date.

This dissertation begins with a brief history of the industry of fabric formwork. Despite its relative infancy there have been a considerable number of projects in the field over the past decade, highlighting the burgeoning interest in this new formworking tectonic. The inherent advantages of casting into fabric are covered, as well as the aesthetic potentialities that this brings.

The dissertation culminates with a chapter on the author’s creation of a full scale fabric formed concrete column, the design of which was informed by both the literature analysed for this dissertation in addition to the significant number of research projects and workshops undertaken with the leadership of Professor Remo Pedreschi.

Thomas Ferm

Remo Pedreschi
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