From the Cell to Sustainable Cities

Programmable Knitting. Image Credit Jane Scott

Programmable Knitting. Image Credit Jane Scott

Series Lead: Jane Scott (Design)

Series co-conveners: 

Research Context:

Molecular structures and interactions within proteins are critical to cellular activity, and the elegance of these biological mechanisms is observed in the precise positioning of material to generate the necessary function. Mistakes in the fabrication of proteins, caused by DNA mutations or environmental stress, result in physical changes to the shapes of proteins that may cause disease. However, these are dynamic and regulated processes, and before problems manifest themselves within the biological system, quality control mechanisms such as molecular chaperones respond, by reorganizing, and refolding the molecular material to keep the system working effectively.

The responsiveness and adaptability observed at a molecular level in biological systems is very different to conventional approaches to construction. Whilst efforts to increase sustainability in architecture has led to improvements in material properties, a reinforced concrete beam still requires steel reinforcement because the biggest part of the loads it has to bear is precisely its own weight.

But materials exist that offer significant opportunity to tailor structure and function at the building scale; these materials are textiles. Precedents demonstrate how knitted fabric can produce lightweight building forms and introduce highly functionalised material into architecture. Through addressing the problem from a biological perspective, the opportunity exists to work across scales using textile design to apply structure-function relationships observed at a protein level to a building scale.

Series Aims

This Sadler Seminar Series will identify new opportunities for the design of sustainable architecture using materials and methods inspired by nature. The collaboration will investigate how the alignment of structure and function observed within biological systems, can transform the specification of textile materials used in the built environment.

Project Events

Workshop 1: The Biological (January 2020) 

Workshop 2: The Textile  (February date tbc) 

Workshop 3: The Building (Easter date tbc) 

Exhibitions include: