French ambassador accepts award on behalf of student

A special guest accepted the award on behalf of the runner-up in the ‘Material Innovations’ category of the ‘Textile Structures for New Building’ competition for students. The French ambassador to Germany, Philippe Etienne, stood in at short notice and left no doubt that he was greatly impressed by the creativity and innovativeness of the students.

All the award winners are smiling – but in the wrong direction – namely at the much bigger cameras wielded by our professional photographer colleagues...

All the award winners are smiling – but in the wrong direction – namely at the much bigger cameras wielded by our professional photographer colleagues…

According to the jury, the promotional award, which was given for the 13th time this year, should highlight creative thinking and innovative problem solutions via “building projects with textiles or textile-reinforced materials that are suitable for realisation”. Most of the numerous entries in the three categories – ‘Macro Architecture’, ‘Composites and Hybrid Structures’ and ‘Material Innovations’ came from the EU, and this was reflected by the winners. For example, first and second places in the ‘Macro Architecture’ category were taken by two students of Madrid Polytechnic University. First place, which carries a cash prize of € 1,500, went to Leyre Mauleón for a project aiming to bring back to life an unpopulated village in the Spanish province of Guadalajara. For the project, a ‘voliere’, a kind of big bird cage, was suspended over the village’s remaining buildings as a translucent bio-climatic textile façade that actually gives off a blue glimmer at night.

Very airy: award winner Tobias Becker shows how his ‘fresh-air cushion wall’ works using a common ball-point pen

Very airy: award winner Tobias Becker shows how his ‘fresh-air cushion wall’ works using a common ball-point pen

The winner of the ‘Composites and Hybrid Structures’ category was Tobias Becker (27), a student of architectureand urban planning at the University of Stuttgart. Entitled ‘Breathing Skins’, his project looked at the question of how building envelopes can be (more airy) in future commercial and residential buildings. His idea is to use variable openings in the building envelope to regulate the exchange of air, surface temperature and light and sound distribution. This works via special air cushions (see photo) made of polycarbonate – i.e., polyester, which is also used to made synthetic garments – that open or close as required. Responding to a question about his project after the awards ceremony, Tobias said, “I am a real fresh-air fanatic. During my studies, however, I had to spend a lot of time poring over my books indoors. There, I asked myself how I could bring the fresh air I love into the building or teach the walls to breath? In other words, I wanted to find a solution to the functioning of a window in an innovative and flexible way.” And he seems to have succeeded in this: for his dissertation, 3,600 of the little (fresh) air cushions are to be fitted on 20 square metres of the façade of a pavilion of the Institute for Lightweight Design and Construction in Stuttgart.

But where does the ambassador come into this? He apologised for his fellow citizen, Selma Durand from Paris, and accepted on her behalf the award for her project ‘Loop’, which illustrates the simplicity and complexity of building using textiles (see photo above, which shows Ambassador Etienne to the right of Perle Heudeberr, a friend and fellow student of Selma). Responding to our probing, investigative questions (…) he finally admitted that he had not made a special journey to Techtextil but was already there to visit French exhibitors who are presenting their innovative textiles at the fair, many of them in the French pavilion in Hall 3.1 (Stand B72).

Ronny Eckert

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