KnitCandela, a sculptural pavilion at the Museo Universitario Arte Contemporáneo in Mexico City, is named after Félix Candela, the Spanish and Mexican architect who used thin concrete shells in his many iconic buildings. Candela created his shells by layering wet concrete atop bulky wooden formwork. But Philippe Block – a co-director of the Zurich-based Block Research Group and the creator, alongside Zaha Hadid Architects, of KnitCandela – discarded this resource-intensive approach, opting instead for lightweight formwork made of polyester yarn. Using a knitting machine, Block produced four strips of textile that, when mounted on steel supports, became a mould strong enough to hold wet concrete. In the future, this approach to casting will save builders time and money – and cut down on waste. The KnitCandela sculpture weighs five tonnes, yet the formwork material was so lightweight that Block brought it with him, from Switzerland to Mexico, in his checked baggage.
Project KnitCandela Location Mexico City, Mexico Firms Block Research Group at ETH Zurich (Switzerland) and Zaha Hadid Architects Computation and Design Group (U.K.) with Architecture Extrapolated (U.K.) Team Mariana Popescu, Matthias Rippmann, Philippe Block, Shajay Bhooshan and Alicia Nahmad Vazquez with Andrew Liew, Tom Van Mele, Filippo Nassetti, Marko Margeta, Patrik Schumacher, Lex Reiter and Robert Flatt