CONCRETE Form[ing]work

Licentiate Researcher at KTH Royal Institute of Technology

Supervisors: Oliver Tessmann, Tim Anstey

This research is part of the research project "Concrete Performance - Towards digitally informed cement-bound material systems" funded by the Swedish Research Council



Traditionally, in the realm of computational design and digital fabrication, the final form is envisioned, and then a material is chosen to best suit its construction needs. Concrete has been used for centuries in traditional construction projects, often with laborious and costly form work. Most conventional construction techniques aim at constraining the material’s inherent qualities, doing their best to minimize the hydrostatic forces and slumping of concrete. 



Concrete Form[ing] work explores the integration of smart textiles and cast
concrete to investigate novel techniques for creating architectural elements. While
traditional form work for custom or sinuous concrete structures is often costly or
impossible to fabricate, this research looks at a myriad of techniques to custom-tailor
fabric for casting. These include traditional hand smocking as well as more recent
research into custom knit structures that can react and transform in response to
heat, water, or electrical currents.

The integration of such methods opens up a new possibility of design research and
fabrication techniques in regards to what can be achieved with fabric form work. It
also speculates on additional research that could introduce an industrial robot arm and
sensors to explore issues of repeatability, scale, and economy.


Initial smocking pattern tests


This project investigates patterns and methods to formally manipulate flat sheets of fabric.
Concrete Form[ing]work examines traditional smocking, an embroidery
technique of gathering fabric that has been used since the Middle Ages, and questions
how this technique can be applied in novel means. Smocking refers to the gathering
and stitching together of fabric in a wide variety of patterns, a technique that has
commonly been used in clothing for cuffs, necklines, and waistlines in the absence of
elastic. Smocking reduces the size of the fabric to roughly one third of its original
size, and can be applied to architectural elements to specify varying areas of
elasticity as well as differentiate global geometry.


cast probes

comparison of pattern, fabric and final cast 


Research Questions:

  • how can fabric form work be re-envisioned through smocking to create novel casting techniques?
  • how can smocking be parameterized and differentiated to articulate a new methods of fabricating architectural elements?




  • tweaking simulation tool using Grasshopper and Kangaroo
  • parametric smocking patterns
  • applying smocking to three-dimensional architectural tectonics such as beams, walls and columns