The Making of
Knitted Formworks for Complex Concrete Structures
Mariana Popescu

09/10/19, 7 pm
Die Angewandte, Oskar Kokoschka-Platz 2, 1010 Wien, Hörsaal 1

KnitCandela is a thin, sinuous concrete shell built on an ultra-lightweight knitted formwork, jointly designed and developed by Zaha Hadid Architects and Block Research Group (BRG) of ETH Zurich. It is a homage to the famous Spanish-Mexican shell builder Félix Candela (1910 – 1997). KnitCandela reimagines his spectacular concrete shells through the introduction of novel computational design methods and the KnitCrete formwork technology. With this cable-net and fabric formwork system, expressive, freeform concrete surfaces can now be constructed efficiently, without the need for complex moulds. KnitCandela’s thin, doubly-curved concrete shell with a surface area of almost 50 m2 and weighing more than 5 tonnes, was applied on a KnitCrete formwork of only 55 kg. The knitted fabric of the formwork system was brought to Mexico from Switzerland in a suitcase.


Mariana Popescu is an architect with a strong interest in innovative ways of approaching the fabrication process and use of materials. She received Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in architecture from the Delft University of Technology. As a PhD researcher at the Block Research Group and part of the NCCR Digital Fabrication, a core value of her doctoral research is to apply efficiency in terms of materials, labour, cost, and time to address the problem of expensive and materially inefficient formworks in construction.
Currently, she is a Postdoctoral researcher at the Block Research Group continuing the research on Lightweight Flexible formworks within the NCCR Digital Fabrication.