Threaded Folds is an instillation that challenges the notion of material strength and stability. 18 panels of 9mm thin fiber boards are connected to form the 1.2 by 4.5-meter-tall wall that lines the entrance to the International Built environment Week 2019. The distinct vertical profiles of the installation are created through controlled folding and bending of the fiber boards. The fold introduces a material transformation that is beyond the typical capacity of the rather weak fiberboards. Robotic arms are calibrated to lay a series of carbon fiber reinforcements on the surface of the boards to enhance the material properties. The folds in correlation with the strengthening pattern of the carbon fibres create a stable structure that could either be free standing, or with slight adjustments to the fabrication process, it could be used as a cantilevering horizontal structure.
The installation reflects the progress of crafting in a contemporary material design practice, where computational design and fabrication tools have become state of the art. These technological advancements allow designers to calibrate and selectively augment material properties in large scale applications and derive more efficient and non-uniform material distributions. The installation is a result from a joint BCA-SUTD partnership (Building Construction Authority and Singapore University of Technology and Design), and a continuation of a research collaboration between various faculty in the Architecture and Sustainable Design (ASD) Pillar at SUTD.
The exhibition showcases the material experiments to create a type of Mycelium composite that integrates the growing of mycelium and the capabilities of digital tooling. Carbon fibre strips reinforcements are robotically placed on three different delivery mediums: cotton 250gsm paper; cotton 250 gsm paper perforated with a grid of 5mm diameter holes; a cardboard frame. These different mediums containing the patterns of carbon fibre reinforcements are placed on the substrates during the standard cultivation process of mycelium established by Mycotech PTE LTD. This targeted insertion of high strength carbon fibre strips expands the material capacity of the composite while maintaining the effective growth procedure established by the industry.
Mycelium composites are being named one of the most promising new “living” materials because they are bio-based, exhibit good mechanical and water-resistance properties, and can be grown to several times their initial size within a short period of time. These factors present environmental and sustainable possibilities that are in stark contrast to the exhaustive chain of extraction, processing, and subtractive shaping characteristic of current building materials.The term mycelium refers to the vegetative, filamentary part of various mushroom-growing fungi that can be turned into a usable material once dried and/or heated. Our collaboration with Mycotech PTE LTD focus on the cultivation of mycelium building materials from organic waste matter, such as the leftovers or by-products of the construction, agriculture, and food industries.