For the firm’s first exhibition in both Mexico and Latin America, Zaha Hadid Architects has developed a concrete shelled pavilion, as a way of paying homage to the Spanish architect and engineer Félix Candela.
Named KnitCandela, this work was built using KnitCrete, a new 3D technology that shapes concrete construction with knitted textiles. This new technology creates curving concrete structures without the all time-consuming work that would normally be needed for this type of work.
This colorful Zaha Hadid Architects’ pavilion was built with over two miles of yarn that was knitted into four strips of between 15 and 26 meters in just 36 hours using the revolutionary digital fabrication technique mentioned above. Later on, it was flown over from Switzerland, where it was constructed, to Mexico, in suitcases.
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Once in situ at the Museo Universitario Arte Contemporáneo (MUAC) in Mexico City, the four strips of seamless, double-layered fabric were suspended from a wooden frame using a tension cable-net system.
It’s concrete bland-colored outside merges with its colorful inside. The concrete’s internal part is covered with the vibrant-patterned strips that accentuate its ruffled shape, which was actually designed with the purpose of reassembling the folds of the beautiful traditional Mexican Jalisco dress.
In total this sinuous knitted shell structure weighs 30 kilograms just with the cable net, whilst the concrete shell weighs 5 tonnes.
‘While candela relied on combining hyperbolic paraboloid surfaces to produce reusable formworks leading to a reduction of construction waste, KnitCrete allows for the realization of a much wider range of anticlastic geometries,’ explains Zaha Hadid Architects.