Textile Architecture


representING and manipulatinG tensile structures in real time

...computer aided tools play an important role during the conceptual design of tensile structures because of the complexity of the obtained equilibrium shapes

The research project consist in the creation of computer based tools to be used by architects and designers in order to facilitate the creation of equilibrium shapes of tensile structures in real time. Double curvature shapes used in textile architecture need to comply with some structural and geometric requirements. Due to this, it is important to emphasize the importance of having a computer aided tool during the conceptual stage of the design process, to sketch easily different proposals in a very short time.

The application uses the structural formfinding method for calculating the equilibrium shape of the tensile structure. Parameters of the NURBS fitting process, as the size of the mesh control or the smooth values are easy to modify in real time.

Nurbs fitting techniques are used to represent tensile membrane structures reducing the required time to achieve any shape. It allows designers the possibility of obtaining and manipulating equilibrium shapes in real time.

A computer application has been built to test the different algorithms and to study their efficiency. It is quite simple to generate and modify complex shapes in real time, assign material, loads or modify the boundary conditions of the model. A designer can get accustomed to the application in a very little time.

In the last years, haptic devices have become very popular and have been used in many applied fields as product design, medicine, architecture or art between others. By means of haptic devices, the user can interact with virtual objects via the sense of touch. The aim of this project is to introduce the use of haptic technologies in the design of tensile membranes structures.


Using haptic technology, the designer can easily define complex equilibrium shapes and try different design alternatives in a very short time. An application has been developed to test the benefits of using haptics in textile architecture. The following video shows a demo of the system.

textile arquitecture app for the iPad.                                 OCTOBER 2011

This App is a proof of concept and will be available at the App Store before the end of 2011. The video shows how the iPad is capable of calculating the equilibrium shape of a membrane structure in real time.
The user can interact with the 3D membrane structure model and obtain different equilibrium shapes in a very easy way.
The iPad is computing the structure using the Force-Density method to obtain the equilibrium shape.
The user can change the material properties, mesh options, apply loads to the net and move the vertex (x, y, z) location until the desired shape is achieved.

Once the model is ready, it can be exported to DXF. Pictures can be captured and sent by email to your friends. You can also post them to your facebook wall or send them to twitter.
For more information, send me an email (
jsanchez@ccrma.stanford.edu) or follow me on twitter ( @jsanchezsierra )
That easy!