An Unexpected Alliance: Ferrocement Meets Origami Art
Architect: Anupama Kundoo
Given its thinness in contrast to reinforced concrete, ferrocement building elements must be bent or folded in order to optimize their load-bearing properties. Ferrocement can then be used to create lightweight structures that can be bent in nearly any which way, while minimising the amount of cement and steel needed.
In exploring how curved self-supporting shells could be translated into faceted surfaces, Anupama Kundoo looked to origami art, in which various bending and folding techniques are used to stiffen thin sheets of paper. Building on possibilities already developed by mathematicians, artists and scientists, Kundoo Architects were also able to find solutions combining the wall and roof as a single structural unit.
The book “From Sheet to Form”, written by Paul Jackson, served as a basis for research into the most suitable form for the development of a synthetic roof surface prototype. Kundoo Architects first explored a myriad of possible shapes using paper. The stability of the developed geometries was analysed and their suitability for use as habitation was investigated.
A first prototype, which later found use as a children’s pavilion, was constructed in the residential community of Citadines, located in the centre of Auroville, India. While the original intention was to create the structure with formwork using recycled corrugated fibreboard, due to unsolved problems at the time the prototype was ultimately built without formwork. Instead, the identical rhomboid elements were broken down into separate mesh frames, installed on site and then plastered from both sides.
A second prototype was built in 2013 on the campus of Gateway College of Architecture and Design in Sonipat near Delhi, on the occasion of the annual convention of the National Association of Students of Architecture India.
Also in 2013, a 1:1 scale model of the prototype was built in Brisbane, Australia, as a residential unit at the University of Queensland. The results of the accompanying study were presented in seven Australian cities as part of the travelling exhibition, “CUSP: Designing into the Next Decade”.
The two films below document the research undertaken at the University of Queensland.