From outer space into architecture
Anyone who hitherto thought that technical textiles do not play a major structural role in architecture should think again, namely of Frei Otto and his pioneering designs and structures in the field of lightweight buildings – and then of space travel, life in space, and on Mars. Why? For the answer visit this year’s Techtextil in Frankfurt/Main, the leading international trade fair for technical textiles and nonwovens, which runs from May 9 – 12.
This year, the trade fair has not just one but two highly exciting partners, namely DLR, the German Aerospace Center, and the European Space Agency (ESA) – as well as star architect Ben van Berkel from the Dutch company UNStudio. They will together be hosting the Special Event – entitled “Living in Space”: It will be the highlight of this year’s Techtextil and the parallel “Texprocess” trade fair. The focus will be on the importance of technical textiles space travel. It is a field of particular interest for the architects among us. Especially if research findings in the aerospace are then translated into products for the construction industry - for example, because their properties, such as temperature resistance and stability, are of great benefit in mass products.
Head for Mars with UN Studio
For “Living in Space” an elaborately designed special area is being created in Hall 6.1 – close to the exhibitors of technical textiles and functional apparel textiles. To this end, UN Studio and the specialists at MDT-tex have devised a spectacularly shaped pavilion that impressively demonstrates the possibilities textile architecture offer.
Together with the Techtextil partners DLR and ESA, the pavilion gives an in-depth and yet entertaining introduction to how technical textiles enable survival in space in the first place. Technologies and products with applications in or referencing space travel in four thematic fields: “Mobility”, “Clothing”, “Civilization” and “Architecture”.
The highpoint of the zone is an interactive VR experience where visitors can travel to Mars – in the pavilion designed by UN Studio and MDT-tex. The virtual space colony they can tour there with VR glasses uses technical textiles without which there can be no off-earth settlement.
In Frei Otto’s footsteps
The “Buildtech” is of special relevance to architects and is to be found all over the trade-fair grounds – after all, more than one third of the 1,400-plus exhibitors are presenting products and services for building with textiles. The spectrum ranges from textile-reinforced concrete to wovens for lightweight structures.
To round this out, Techtextil is joining forces with the international TensiNet network to host the student competition “Textile Structures for New Building 2017”, which focuses on building with textiles or textile-reinforced materials. At the same time, the competition is destined to promote interaction between students and members of industry.
One special aspect of the competition is materials’ “Suitability for re-use and recycling”. Werner Sobek, Director of the renowned ILEK Institute for Lightweight Structures and Conceptual Design at the University of Stuttgart (it was originally founded by Frei Otto) chairs the competition jury. The winners in the categories Macro-Architecture, Micro-Architecture, Material Innovations, Environment and Ecology, Composites and Hybrid Structures will be announced on the first day of the fair.
The “Innovative Apparel Show” will be taking place for the second time since the premiere at Techtextil 2015. For the duration of the fair, colleges of fashion and design from four European countries will present designs that rely on technical textiles and advanced processing technologies. Participants include students from the Esmod in Paris and the Accademia Italiana in Florence.
Concurrently with the trade-fair, this year sees the 19th edition of the Techtextil Symposium on research into textiles, which this time boasts an expanded concept. There will be 49 lectures divided into seven thematic areas and offering any amount of interesting insights. This year it will for the first time have as one of its partners the Dornbirn Man-Made Fibers Congress (Dornbirn-MFC) which will constitute one of the seven blocks of lectures.
Techtextil - International trade fair for technical textiles and nonwovens
From May 9 – 12, 2017
May 9 – 11: 9 a.m. – 6 p.m.
May 12: 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.