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Pushing the architectural envelope

The three dimensional arrangement of knitted spacer fabrics is embedded with sensors and actuators.

14th July 2021

Innovation in Textiles
 |  Milan

Interiors, Construction

A striking centrepiece in the Italian Pavilion at the current 17th International Architecture Exhibition (Biennale Architettura 2021) is the six-metre high Spacing Spacers installation.

Designed by Andrea Giglio of the Material Balance research group at the Polytechnic of Milan, the installation explores the potential of e-textiles in architectural structures.

A three dimensional arrangement of spacer fabrics is embedded with sensors and actuators to create a circuit across the outer layers of the ‘trink’ of the installation, with conductive yarns hooking up sound sensors to an array of LED lights which pulse in response to the sound in the installation space.

Giglio worked with knit designers Giovanni Maria Conti and Martina Motta at the Polytechnic of Milan on the development of the special spacer fabrics, which were realised in partnership with Shima Seiki Italia, using yarns provided by Aquafil, Iafil and Sinterama.

“Architecture is very much about visual perceptions, but sound has an important role to play in how someone reacts to a living space,” Giglio said. “This prototype is part of an ongoing Material Balance project aimed at exploring the potential of e-textiles for fashion design on an architectural scale – specifically to cope with the need for sound comfort in the future built environment. We will continue to explore the potential synergies between textile manufacturing and material systems and interactive architecture via a computational approach.”

Biennale Architettura 2021 is running in Venice until November.

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