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The Silk Pavilion – Silk as a Building Material of The Future

The Silk Pavilion – Silk as a Building Material of The Future
13 September 2023

A structure made from rigidized silk panels has been showcased at an architecture festival in Spain.

The pavilion was unveiled at Concéntrico, the International Architecture and Design Festival of Logroño, showcasing the research efforts on woven fabrics and the structural potential of stiffened textiles by Paloma Cañizares Office.


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How is Silk Used as a Building Material?


By reinforcing and folding silk, the team achieved a self-supporting material that is extremely slim and lightweight. Silk is one of the most resilient natural fibres, and it boasts four times the strength of steel at an equivalent cross-section.



Picture: a photograph of three people working on folding the pieces of silk. Image Credits: Josema Cutillas and Asier Rua


To create the mould for the pavilion, a three-pointed element was designed and repeated 12 times. 100 linear meters of fabric were used for the structure. The mould can then be used as a modular prefabricated element for simple assembly.

The panels are coated on the outside, revealing the silk's black colour on the interior. Triangular beams of light project between the roof and the enclosure, creating a new star that shifts with the sun's movement.

This isn’t the first time silk has been considered for its sturdiness and potential beyond textiles. Researchers at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology noted that dragline silk from a spider is exceptionally stiff and tough. This inspired them to create a polymer with added hydrogen bonds, mimicking the spider silk’s structure. It is hoped that this new material could be used in electronics production.

In 2016, architect Ilaria La Manna revealed her Bombix Bricks concept, where liquid silk is used to create temporary installations. The silk is grown in a 2x2x2 metre glass cube, and a vacuum pump removes the air causing giant bubbles which will eventually “freeze” into shape.

Picture: a photograph of the pavilion in its final state, with some palm trees next to it. Image Credits: Josema Cutillas and Asier Rua

Text Credit: Paloma Cañizares

Article written by Ella Tansley | Published 13 September 2023


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