The Tao of Fabric Architecture, part 1
The Tao Te Ching is a classic Chinese text, written by the sage Lao Tzu around the 6th century BC. Lao Tzu (translated as "Old Master") was a record keeper at the Zhou Dynasty court, and as such had access to many records that remained unseen to the general populace. It has been translated countless times with many varying interpretations of the precise wording of the text; however it is generally accepted that the title loosely translates to "The Classic Way of Virtue".
I was introduced to the book in the early 1990's and still refer to it on a regular basis; its simplicity and wisdom have become a constant companion on my journey through life. I have lost my copy several times but replace it immediately, on all occasions, without further thought.
The nature of the early parts of the Tao Te Ching is to loosely define what the Tao is NOT:"The Tao that can be told is not the eternal Tao; the Name that can be named is not the eternal Name". From there, the text comes alive by highlighting that all things arise of each other; we cannot have light without dark; nor can we know easy without difficult: "When people see some things as beautiful, other things become ugly; when people see some things as good, other things become bad".
I am going to venture into this topic more extensively over future months within this blog, and in particular how the scripture of Taoism influences my approach to designing fabric structures.
The concept of a Way, or Path, that lies in between the definitions - that Life exists as what happens, and not as how what happens is judged - has provided a gorgeous source of inspiration for poets, artists, painters, calligraphers, and even gardeners, since the text was first written. With respect to architecture, fabrics are sculpted with consideration of both the form AND the formless. The form that a shape takes is defined as much by what is there, as it is by the space around it. For example, when looking at a tree, the space in between the leaves defines the concept of "leaves"; the absence of space would leave us with the concept of "leaf", or simply "tree".
The flexible nature of fabrics allow us to manipulate them into and out of differing shapes and forms, and in the words of the Tao Te Ching: "We turn clay to make a vessel, but it is on the space where there is nothing that the usefulness of the vessel depends". Minor variations in how structures are built to accomodate their fabric counterpart (whether this be a shade sail or more complex geometrical tension membrane form) lead to massive variations in the fabric's form, and therefore function.
to be continued...........
if anyone wishes to discuss any of the concepts raised through this series of blog posts, please feel free to add comments below. The comments are moderated to minimise spam issues, however all relevant comments will be approved and responded to. Cheers, Tim