Last week, during the American Institute of Architects (AIA) annual show, the American Composites Manufacturers Association (ACMA) announced the winners of its third COMPOSITES DESIGN CHALLENGE – an exciting design competition that encourages college architecture students to find innovative ways to integrate composite constructions into architectural production.  ACMA asked approximately 150 architectural students from 23 different schools to work in teams to consider the development of a composite architectural/building component or assembly.

This year, a team of students from Cornell University won first place for its “Tubular Knitting” design – a lightweight, spatial and structural tube that can serve as an alternative for a column. The system can be customized, flatpacked and easily assembled onsite. To create the unique design, students Jingjing Liu, William Qian, Xiaohang “Gloria” Yan, Jingxin Yang and Yuheng “Amber” Zhu used automation to knit a fiberglass patterns, which were applied to a series of inflated balloons. After applying resin to the fiberglass, the balloons were deflated, leaving a cured structure with optimal porosity.


Rendering of Cornell’s “Tubular Knitting” design.