Organic Concrete Formwork

Concrete has been one of the most used construction material since a long (long) time ago. Its properties and attributes have allowed it to be part of our architectural designs. Despite all its characteristics, concrete has limitations. To obtain the final product, a rigid and rectilinear mould is needed to repeat a pattern. But what if the conventional casting methods are questioned? What if the final product has a curved and unique form?

By using fabric as the formwork for casting, there two examples of how the exploration of science and technology can be developed to create curved geometries.

1. Mark West, founder of the Centre for Architectural Structures and Technology (CAST), has dedicated to developed fabric formworks for curved concrete reinforced structures. He specializes in the research and experimenting in different techniques compression vault and shell panels and the design of the fabric formed concrete. Mark West provides specifications on how the concrete will stand structurally.

2. Joseph Sarafian and Ron Culver utilize 6-axis robots and fabric lycra sleeves to cast concrete into adapted formworks creating parametric geometries. Their project “Fabric Forms” is the result of a technology and material study for the formwork to provide an artistical approach (in my opinion) to the construction technique.


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These technologies can become more than temporary installation. They can be used to create organic forms and/or precast variation modules to design and build in a larger scale. Maybe this technique can be used to develop and construct more “futuristic” designs.


LafargeHolcim Foundation for Sustainable Construction, “Mark West – LafargeHolcim Foundation for Sustainable Construction.” LafargeHolcim Foundation website. March 07, 2016. Accessed January 7, 2017.


Sarafian, Joseph. “Joseph Sarafian Architecture Portfolio.” Joseph Sarafian Architecture Portfolio. Accessed January 12, 2017.


West, Mark. The fabric formwork book methods for building new architectural and structural forms in concrete. London: Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group, 2017.


“Joseph Sarafian & Ron Culver explore concrete casting with fabric forms.” Designboom | architecture & design magazine. April 22, 2016. Accessed January 10, 2017.


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