Flexible Formwork Explorations

Concrete panels hanging on building with students in front
Experimenting with flexible formwork for concrete casting has shown promise to reduce costs and energy by optimizing materials and exploring new forms in architectural and engineering applications. Furthermore, the intricate surfaces enabled by flexible formwork can be designed for climate-responsive building applications or environmentally friendly surfaces. Within this studio, students explored flexible formworks for an installation at the Interdisciplinary Ceramic Research Center (ICRC) on KU’s campus. Students researched prior developments in flexible formwork from Architect Mark West and others and applied this knowledge in the development of “Ripple and Roots” – two distinct forms cast with EPDM membranes and installed as a prototype over steel frames on the exterior of the existing warehouse. The final installation has a dynamic quality, changing with the seasons and variable sunlight. The fluid appearance of the surfaces and elevated position of the panels contradicts the weight and bulkiness of typical concrete applications. In addition to the design and fabrication of the project, students led a casting workshop with Mark West where KU Architecture and Design students convened at the warehouse to explore flexible formwork en masse.
Year: 2022
Location: Lawrence, Kansas
Course: Arch 509 Designbuild Studio
Instructor: Keith Van de Riet

Students: Lindsay Armstrong, Danny Derouin, Kevin Dunne, Alexander Lamoureux, Garrett Powers, Taylor Schmidt, Ved Varma, AJ Powell

Partner/Client: Interdisciplinary Ceramic Research Center (ICRC); Mark West, Architect

Sponsors: AZZ Galvanizing, KU School of Architecture and Design

Vendors: Home Depot, Cottin’s Hardware and Rental, Boyd Metal, Rapid Set