Urban Materiality – Towards New Collaborations in Textile and Architectural Design

What is textile architecture? Focus in the research project “Urban Materiality” is on the field of textile architecture, and the project is ongoing from 2016 to 2018 with funding from the Swedish Research Council (Vetenskapsrådet), Artistic Research.

The theoretical part of the project is to examine, question and interpret the field of textile architecture, and the empirical part focuses on urban environments and on designing and exploring two-dimensional and three-dimensional structures, in the form of samples, mock-ups and architecture models. These explorations will be made from the experiential and perceptive perspectives of materials and form, combining the fields of textile design and architecture, including acoustic design. Design of woven and knitted structures can be compared with the forming of building structures, and the link between acoustics and materials is important in urban environments burdened with unwanted sound and noise. In the project, the acoustic sound design perspective, which traditionally is associated with textile design indoors, is moved to outdoor urban environments.

Aesthetic ideals of perfection often result in that the materials and building envelopes today are replaced prematurely to inferior materials in existing environments, such as in the suburban areas built in the 60’s and 70’s. These approaches will be questioned and discussed in relation to traditional Japanese aesthetic ideals of non-perfection and incompletion. One of the participants in the project is working with material flows for the renewal of residential areas and focuses on sustainable development, and the project is taking a critical perspective by positioning in relationship to existing paradigms.

The participants in the project “Urban materiality” are three and come from HDK, Kristina Fridh (project leader); The Swedish School of Textiles, University of Borås, Margareta Zetterblom and Chalmers/Architecture, Paula Femenias. The three participants’ fields of competence are textile design and architecture, including sound design, and the ambition is to build a new interdisciplinary research platform for collaborations in textile architecture in a joint research environment. In the project, textile and architectural structures will be examined whether they could be melted into something new, with benefits from the two fields, and to show new applications for the field of textile design on larger scales in urban environments, which could enlarge and enrich both fields. The framework proposed in the project contributes to the development of design methods derived from artistic, collaborative and generative processes that delineate structures formed by the participants’ fields of competence.


Kristina Fridh, PhD, researcher and the director of studies doctoral education, HDK – Academy of Design and Crafts, kristina.fridh [at] hdk.gu.se

Margareta Zetterblom, PhD, lecturer and the program director for BA education in textile design, THS – The Swedish School of Textiles, University of Borås, margareta.zetterblom [at] hb.se

Paula Femenias, Associate Professor, the Department of Architecture, Chalmers University of Technology, paula.femenias [at] chalmers.se


Kengo Kuma and Associates: Green Cast in Odawara-shi, Kanagawa Pref. (south of Tokyo). Photo: Kristina Fridh.