How do you knit and braid a building? Could a building be as lightweight as air? Can sport, in terms of the measurable performance of the human body, influence both design and fabrication and inspire the next generation of buildings? What if we could form-fit and enhance architecture with bio-architecture and performance of our own bodies? Turning performance into structure for the Nike Flyknit Collective, Jenny Sabin works at the intersection of art, architecture, design and science. There are instant similarities in this approach to the work of Nike’s Innovation Kitchen, where disciplines from different fields are brought together with a view to re-thinking basic principles and approaches to design challenges. myThread features novel formal expressions that adapt to changes in the environment through formfitting and high-performance lightweight structures.
This project aims to engage a new material practice and next steps in digital fabrication in architecture through the production of models and prototypes via cutting edge parametric and associative software that interface fabrication technologies in related, but alternative disciplines. By digitally crafting these new formfitting material systems at architectural scales, beautiful formal possibilities emerge allowing for the construction of novel spaces and immersive adaptive environments that ultimately advance textile tectonics in architecture. Importantly, this project seeks to communicate, document and make public advances in tooling and textile fabrication towards the design and production of nonlinear systems via complex geometries. Central to this is the integration of fields and industries outside of our own with the promise of advancing the functional, adaptive and formfitting nature of knit material alongside provocative emergent forms and spaces.
This is achieved through visualization models of human bio-data--motion data from a large group of runners—transformed and realized as a new choreography of performances in the context of a fully knitted pavilion. Simply, put, the generative design strategy is based on prior performances, that are translated into present tense performance through a finely tuned material assembly of knitted threads that respond and adapt to the presence or absence of light. The main goal of this project concerns the evolution of digital complexity in the built world.
Sabin often starts from a molecular point-of-view where the singularity of a single unit such as a cell or zip-tie becomes the building blocks for structures of great complexity. Like Nike Flyknit, which uses simple threads to create a complex formfitting structure on a performance-enhancing shoe, the fusion of science, architecture, art and technology open the door to new ways of thinking about structure and the relationship of the body to technology. In this project, the human body is used as a biodynamic model to inspire new ways of thinking about issues of performance and adaptation at the architectural scale. Performance, lightness, formfitting and sustainability become immediately relevant architectural criteria.
The body, or more specifically the body in motion — pure performance itself — is the starting point of our New York collaboration for this project. Using Nike+ FuelBand technology to collect motion data from a community of runners during an earlier Nike Flyknit workshop, the Sabin Studio transformed the patterns of this biological data into the geometry and material of knitted structure, based on prototypes developed during workshop sessions. The motion data, collected and organized in excel files then linked to geometric features in a 3D modeling environment, form a material construct for a unique response to the formfitting question delivered in the original Nike Flyknit Collective brief.
The myThread Pavilion is the result of collaboration across disciplines and industries including architecture, textiles, sportswear and engineering with a harder outside construction and softer, organic inner material. Composed of adaptive knitted, solar active, reflective photo luminescent threads and a steel cable net holding hundreds of aluminum rings, the simplicity of knitted geometries meets the complexity of a body in motion. An inner structure of soft, textile-based whole-garment knit elements absorbs, collects and delivers light as the materials react to variegated light sources and the presence of people through embedded shadows. The material's response to sunlight as well as physical participation is an integral part of our exploratory approach to the subjects of performance and formfitting.
Linking biology and innovation, technology and tradition, this is an analog manifestation both of the benefits of Nike Flyknit, and also the activities and performance of the individuals that went into its making. This installation's adaptable sensitivity and flexibility mirrors the human form. It is its own environment, its own community and its own energy. While interpreting and visualizing human data, the pavilion also becomes a body itself by virtue of a dynamic, spatialized interiority and the presence of a multitude of actual human interactions.