miércoles, 27 de mayo de 2015

Tailorcrete research consortium

When it comes to on-site construction and fabrication, in-situ poured concrete is usually the first to come to mind. Concrete has been around since Roman times and is the answer for a variety of architectural solutions, because in theory it can fill just about any formwork and materialize even the strangest forms.

However, in reality, concrete is not so easy to work with, especially when the object is to explore formal possibilities. Tailorcrete, a research consortium between many universities such as the Danish Technological Institute, Czech Technical University, ETH Zürich and Chalmers University of Technology, aims to change the way wet-construction is carried out nowadays.

Tailorcrete researches and studies a variety of topics related to concrete construction, such as the role of digital architecture in concrete structures, reinforcement types, digital fabrication, robots, casting techniques, formal prototypes, life cycle assessment, standardization of new systems and mass production. However, I am making this entry only about one topic, which is one of their main fields of study and also the most relevant to the topic of on-site construction: formworks.

Tailorcrete seeks to find and design formworks and casting techniques that provide new design possibilities to concrete. They have developed various types of formworks, which I will briefly describe here.

The multi-edge formwork (above) which consists of beams and telescopic girders. This allows to cast double curved slabs. The casting surface is made of plywood plates, whose thickness depends on the thickness of the concrete slab to be cast. The plates are customized depending on the project and cut by a CNC machine, and therefore can only be used once.

The wax formwork (above) is a particularly interesting system for cast on-site, non-repetitive concrete structures. It consists of using wax in order to mold the formworks into just about any curved shape, and then concrete can be cast in situ on a standard scaffolding. It also aims to be waste-free, because the wax material from the formworks can be melted and remolded.

Full process: concrete slab and corresponding wax molds

The milled formwork is the third and last formwork type. The formwork is milled using lightweight materials but covered in a flexible rubber material, allowing for its reuse. Attached to the milled formwork there could be parts of expanded polystyrene in order to define a curved outcome. See images below.

Sources: Tailorcrete

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