Brendon Carlin and fellow students at the Architectural Association Design Research Laboratory have experimented with liquid plaster set in stitched lycra moulds.

Called Grompies, the project involved translating a computer-generated pattern into stitched lines across the fabric using a sewing machine and by hand.

These textured fabric canvasses are then pulled taut and fixed to wooden frames before being filled with plaster.

The project was a collaborative workshop by Brendon Carlin, Kyle Chou, Lluis Enrique Monzo, Carlos Piles and Faysal Tabbarah, investigating "matter as computation".

Here's some more information from Carlin:

Grompies by Brendon Carlin, Kyle Chou, lluis Enrique Monzo, Carlos Piles, Faysal Tabbarah

Architectural Association Design Research Laboratory - 16 month masters of architecture degree program.
Workshop: matter as computation.

With due recognition to the work of Antonio Gaudi, Frei Otto and Felix Candela, among others.

A virtual pattern is generated on the computer through behavioral rule sets which play out with no finite time limits.

A moment is observed in the looping of those behaviors in virtual space, and captured.

The resulting pattern is translated by hand and sewing machine into a stitched pattern on lycra by printing and tracing its form.

The stitched sheets of lycra are fixed to wooden frames constructed of scrap material.

A plaster, water mix is poured into the tightly stitched lycra pattern and left to set.

Special thanks to Alicia Tam the London Royal College of Arts for material supply and to the students of the RCA‘s Innovation Design Engineering Unit.

Tutors: Theodore Spyropoulos and Rob-Stuart Smith

Brendon Carlin - USA
Kyle Chou - Taiwan/Usalluis Enrique Monzo - Spain
Carlos Piles - Spain
Faysal Tabbarah - Syria

Click for larger image

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See also:


Concrete Cloth by
Concrete Canvas
Concrete Chair by Tejo
Remy & René Veenhuizen
Dezeen’s top ten:
student projects

Posted on Thursday May 6th 2010 at 7:55 pm by Catherine Warmann. Copyright policy | Comments policy

  • sullka

    The first 2 shots looks like footage from someone’s endoscopy.

  • rj cottard

    there must be something in the drinking water at the AA, because one of their alums almost made the exact same breakthrough.

  • R

    jo brendon, whats this??? freaking out at the AA? ;-) grtz Rudi

  • Matthew W

    This is actually remarkably similar to a project done back in 2005 by Andrew Kudless of matsys, called P_Wall.

    Except Kudless’s wall was much more beautiful:

  • poster

    extremelly unpredictable result in the aim of What?
    what does it add to architecture or structural design?

  • dieter

    come on…………lets go back to the blobs of 10 years ago…..they were bad……but at least the viewer’s eyes did not hurt so much.

  • salas

    someones guts are on the table

  • William

    Very cool forms but it needs a surface that doesn’t look like skin stretched over fat.

  • Shireen

    … i fill a pair of tights everyday and I don’t call it architecture or “design research”. cellulite makes pretty shapes too.

  • yrag

    Umm— OK.

    Currently what’s being shown looks like splayed large intestines.

  • Donkey

    It looks like a beautiful anus.

  • us

    Yes, this is similar to projects done in the past, its a 6 week workshop at the AADRL, noone claimed it to be novel…? :/ ? . Noone is calling this “architecture”, but design research, yes, that it seems. Shireen, instead of filling your tights with your legs, you should try filling them with plaster, its more fun!! :) lighten up guys.

  • Ilian

    Good people have devoted decades to this idea and I’m yet to be convinved it’s anything but a well funded research sand trap.

  • Filip

    It’s a group of students learning (that is making mistakes and not achieving the perfect result), lets try and not shit on everything. A lot of designers like to bitch about everything but in how many scenarios could you do better? Criticising designers (those who are producing for consumer use) creating impractical jewellery that looks like a cross between kids swimming arm bands and heavy vehicle tires is right, while criticising students who are trying to gain knowledge in a specific field by completing small projects for their own benefit is wrong.

    • C.S.

      As a student, I appreciate the defense of our learning experiences, both good and bad. However, this project is pointless in it's objectives, and as an aesthetic object. Looking at the Rural Studio, students are much more productive, and are designing buildings that are both sophisticated, and elegant. This is just a wall of rectums.

  • vaint

    I like the fact that once it solidifies it no longer requires a frame to support itself. The plaster really does the trick!

  • w

    calatrava vs gaudi vs grasshopper. beauty! now make it a tent that I can live in.

  • rj cottard

    sorry if i sounded a bit critical before. sarcasm can never really be wholly captured on the web, especially the ambiguous sort. I was just trying to comment on how the AA seems to be creating a specific rhetoric.

    if this were an endoscopy, this person would be in a lot of pain if not dead from all the lesions and ulcers lining his epithelial lining. diagnosis: crohn’s disease? (insert sad face here)

    in my opinion, and only mine, (this warrants me with a license to say whatever I want from here on out) you’re seeing something come off the screen and into practice. and shouldn’t that be commended? Isn’t this what our profession started to lose with the inception of CAD/CAM? And rather than knowing how to build things and being the masters of our trade, now we relinquish our designs and ideas to contractors who tell us what we can and can’t do. And rather than evolving a design concept forward, most of us have taken to devolving our ideas.

    Here is parametric design taken out of grasshopper/catia/revitt/etc and constructed as you see it on the screen. Now I would argue that it’d be nice to see the working drawings or something. So that when building this model, the public can see what the next level of physical and morphological translation and interpretation occurred, but, probably for the amount of time, money, resources, and pool of knowledge- this is pretty badass.

    If this is pointless, well then, you’re calling some of the top architectural institutions (AA, Bartlett, ETH-Zurich, RCA, GSD, Columbia, MIT, Yale, Cooper Union, CCA, etc.) pointless for investing so much not only in validating architecture as a profession but bringing it back into a production line that has started to squeeze it out.

    wow this is a long tirade. sorry. hopefully enough humor was injected into it to keep you entertained.

  • Very original. Both aesthetic and conceptual

  • Markus P

    jabba the hudd meets zaha hadid…..

  • Trickle

    Ilian, West’s work is unidirectional and in that sense this research is much more rich.
    For me, one of the most interesting things about this project is that from a 2d pattern they derived such a complex shape. Its definitely the aesthetics of pure natural forces.

    Architectural… No, heaven forbid I end up living in an octopus. Experimental… Yes, and we as designers should advocate experimental work because it what drives novelty. keep it up!!

  • 010

    far more different from Kudless’s wall, this is great

  • felix

    I think the problem with this work is that there’s nothing, at least from what’s shown on this page, that explains how this might work as a structure.

    Obviously if it were done on a larger scale you’d need reinforcement, and some way to stop all the concrete sagging to the bottom of the fabric. Drainage on the top looks a problem.

    Without addressing any of these concerns all they’re doing is producing an aesthetic. As people have said, it’s not a new aesthetic or a particularly pleasing one. And I for one think there’s more to architecture finding new shapes for concrete.

  • bolock if

    rj cottard – your second set of comments is interesting. There is a need to define and I suppose, validate the architect. The digital infatuation of the past decade and a half is giving way to a demand for making the obvious connections between the physical place in which architecture resides and the digital place in which the architect has been predominatley working. More interestingly, can the two inform eachother to create a richer responce to architectural problems. Architects need to push the artistic, adaptive, innovative and human aspects of thier field and ask critical questions about society, politics etc. through thier work, or yes, they will become completely obselete.

  • Dariusz

    I’m just worried that students coming out of school won’t know how real materials such as concrete, steel, wood, plastic, glass, insulation can come together in an interesting, new way: in joints, facades, internal circulation systems, etc.. I’m not a fan of this. I mean it’s a good start to explore shape and bringing computers to the real world, but does this have to be on dezeen? It’s like my 1st year project..
    What is there was a class that begins to collect and explore some usages of these new and upcoming green materials? Maybe this can be sponsored by the material companies themselves, as in, donated materials..
    it’s a start no?

  • Why can’t an architecture student from AA be an architect? Why do they have to insist in creating computational equations that always seem to bring complex forms made out of random parameters?
    I wonder how can students like this go work for an architecture studio and produce tender drawings and survey the constrution process.

    How is it possible to relate this kind of work to the work of Antonio Gaudi, Frei Otto and Felix Candela?! This is a generation of random forms without any purpose or function. I’m sure they created these forms and now they must be struggling to find out what kind of programs we can put inside.

    Why can they just assume not to be architects but digital sculptures?! It would make more sense indeed..

  • TW


    I really worry for the current wave of architecture graduates.

  • s

    Perfect and beautiful name: Grompies

  • brendon

    This is not an architectural structure, nor was it intended to be that. This is a form finding exersize that embeds gravitationaly motivated material computation into the process. I want to make clear that I dont believe that this project as is will address any other pertinent issues in architecture aside from challenging an idea about a way of making, about design process void of significant architectural criteria, and about aesthetics.

    we are pushed significantly by our tutors and ourselves in core studio work( this is a workshop ) to deal with issues of progam, site, scale, structure, movement, reuse, etc….