Risorse bibliografiche
Risorsa bibliografica obbligatoria
Risorsa bibliografica facoltativa
Scheda Riassuntiva
Anno Accademico 2015/2016
Scuola Scuola di Architettura e Società
Docente Zanelli Alessandra
Cfu 4.00 Tipo insegnamento Monodisciplinare

Corso di Studi Codice Piano di Studio preventivamente approvato Da (compreso) A (escluso) Nome Sezione Insegnamento

Programma dettagliato e risultati di apprendimento attesi

The course will introduce a kind of building systems - lightweight, temporary, minimal - that have been largely neglected by architectural history books, but that we believe the moment has come to re-evaluate since they possess characteristics which prove extremely interesting for our non-migratory but ever increasing transient lifestyle. Lightweight environments have the form of construction of necessity; they are usually made of materials easy to find and to handle, such as textiles and other thin raw materials, to create adaptable spaces, which can be easily disassembled and transported. In other words, lightweight constructions respond to the Vitruvian principles of firmness, commodity and delight, distancing themselves from the classical interpretation embodied by everlasting monumental architecture.

We ought state that the association of the adjective “lightweight” with architecture is relatively recent, starting from the “structural revolution of architecture” (René Sarger), when new materials able to be tensioned, such as steel ropes, cable nets and fabrics, appeared in the construction field. The subject of the course deals with a further meaning of the lightness, considering the “textile architecture” as the contemporary, more charismatic and performance promising expression of the whole lightweight architecture. In a rather provocative manner, we’ll name “ultra-lightweight architecture” to highlight that current technical textiles and other advanced composite materials - such as coated fabrics, fluor-polymer foils, woven and non-woven membranes, FRP poltruded profiles and so on - should be seen as proper building materials, like stone, bricks and wood, to create some outstanding architectural structures.

Since textile architecture has seen a period of great innovation both in technology and materials in the last fifty years, thus becoming more and more distant from the those primary and genuine forms of ephemeral enclosures, the course aims to take stock of the present situation and think over alternative solutions, which are more consistent with a new need of flexibility, with a new aesthetic concept and, last but not least, new obligatory environmental safeguards.

A final one-day workshop activity will be proposed, which aims: 1). To open a discussion on how to renovate textile architecture - its forms, structural concepts and production ways - restarting from the best examples of our past; 2). Reintroducing in the contemporary construction those weight and materials reduction criteria which belong to the best examples of temporary buildings; 3). Transferring the best practices in the production of advanced textiles/composites/non-woven/polymeric materials into the field of architecture.

Main contents: Strength, Stiffness, Flexibility of ultra-lightweight building elements; their special relation between form, shape and structure; the minimization of material as a design strategy; the lightness and the challenge of energy efficiency; computational tools for design and fabrication; ultra-lightweight buildings’ performances; case studies.

Note Sulla Modalità di valutazione

Ex cathedra lessons and a short design workshop are foreseen. The students will be asked to present the result of their design work, with presentations, drawings or even they can freely decide to create a functioning prototype of their idea of ultra-lightweight building systems. TEXTILEs’ HUB - the multidisciplinary laboratory of Textiles, composites and polymers (http://www.polimi.it/en/scientific-research/research-structures/interdepartmental-laboratories/textiles-hub-interdepartmental-textiles-and-polymers-research-laboratory/ ) will host every practical activity during the prototyping phase. 

The oral exam will deal with at least 3 reference books which the student can freely choose, in relation to his/her specific design concept. 

The books here proposed are listed starting from the most significant ones, focused on the course subject, to the more general ones, on the building systems technology and the product design disciplines. 


Risorsa bibliografica facoltativaZanelli, A., Spinelli, L.M., Monticelli, C., Pedrali, P., Lightweight Landscape. Enhancing Design through Minimal Mass Structures, Editore: PoliMi SpringerBriefs, Anno edizione: 2016, ISBN: 978-3-319-21664-5
Risorsa bibliografica facoltativaBeukers A., Van Hinte E., Lightness - the inevitable renaissance of minimum energy structures, Editore: 010 Publishers, Rotterdam, Anno edizione: 2005, ISBN: 90-6450-560-8

Fourth Revised Edition

Risorsa bibliografica facoltativaKronenburg R., Flexible. Architecture that responds to change, Editore: Laurence King Publishing, Anno edizione: 2007, ISBN: 9871856694612
Risorsa bibliografica facoltativaLlorens J., Fabric Structures in Architecture, Editore: Woodhead Publishing, Anno edizione: 2015, ISBN: 9781782422334
Risorsa bibliografica facoltativaSilver P., McLean W., Introduction to Architectural Technology, Editore: Paperback, Anno edizione: 2013, ISBN: 978-1780672946

obbligatorio per tutti gli studenti, sia italiani che stranieri

Risorsa bibliografica facoltativaSilver P., McLean W., Hardingham S., Veglio S., Fabrication: the Designers Guide, Editore: Elsevier Architectural Press, Anno edizione: 2006

For foreign students

Risorsa bibliografica facoltativaAshby M., Johnson K., Materials and Design, Editore: Butterworth-Heinemann, Anno edizione: 2014, ISBN: 9780080982052

3rd Edition

Mix Forme Didattiche
Tipo Forma Didattica Ore didattiche

Informazioni in lingua inglese a supporto dell'internazionalizzazione
Insegnamento erogato in lingua Inglese
Disponibilità di materiale didattico/slides in lingua inglese
Disponibilità di libri di testo/bibliografia in lingua inglese
Possibilità di sostenere l'esame in lingua inglese
Disponibilità di supporto didattico in lingua inglese
schedaincarico v. 1.6.5 / 1.6.5
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