Page B1.1 . 30 April 2003                     
ArchitectureWeek - Building Department
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Architectural Weaving

by Stephen Kieran and James Timberlake

Weaving is most often associated with textiles, but it is also relevant to architecture. It is a construct and a craft that can purposefully and aesthetically order building systems. Just as a thread can be pulled from a woven fabric and a new one inserted in its place, so too can building and urban systems be removed, replaced, or added when the whole is conceived as an exposed woven tapestry.

In its ancient usage, weaving creates surfaces and volumes by the regular interlacing of pliable strands the warp and the woof passing over and under each other at right angles. Friction at every joint enforces the structure of weaving. No material is completely inert, and under pressure from the environment, all materials deform.

When deformed, many materials are elastic; they retain some memory of their prior state and will strain toward their original plane unless restrained. The bending of the strands, each of which wants to restore itself to a flat position, creates friction, between the threads at each overlap.

This three-dimensional friction among strands above, below, and to each side, restrains the individual segments and forms the stable plane of a textile. In modern architectural usage, fasteners often provide the required friction in place of the deformation of the individual strands of material at work in textiles.

The building block, or cell, of a woven surface is the joint between overlapping materials. Weaving is in essence a continuous joint. In closely spaced weaving, the pattern of intersections becomes both visually and practically subservient to the plane or volume.   >>>

This article is excerpted from Manual: The Architecture of KieranTimberlake by Stephen Kieran and James Timberlake, with permission of the publisher, Princeton Architectural Press, Inc.



ArchWeek Image

Woven wood in Rock Hall, at Temple University, designed by KieranTimberlake Associates.
Photo: Barry Halkin

ArchWeek Image

Structure behind the Rock Hall weaving.
Photo: Barry Halkin


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