From Loom to Room

Naomi Julien, McGill University


“The translation of material into space is a fundamental tool of architecture. Loom to Room works between digital models and craft. It pairs computational tools with ancient material practices that are literally mediated by the hand of the architect. It creates an unconventional tectonic language, using one material, through which to describe changing spaces, thresholds and openings.” – Betsy Williamson, juror

From Loom to Room investigates the spatial, conceptual, and performative possibilities of weaving in three dimensions and its potential integration within the built environment. It is a study of how to translate material into space, movement into form, and design into collaboration. 

Historically, weaving has provided an occasion to gather generations together. It is a shared activity, traditionally done by women. Today, feminist scholarship recognizes the important role of these weavers within our cultural history. The repetitive interlacing of thread to make fabric is a form-generating process, transforming time into material. This inspires the question: how does the action of “making” inform and respond to design intentions? 

To understand the relevance of this gendered labour in architecture, Naomi Julien set off to weave an entire room. To accomplish this, she moved back and forth between digital and analog design processes. She began by using a rigid two-metre-wide maple cube as the frame, then scored all twelve edges of the cube equally on each side and chose a highly elastic synthetic blend for the thread. She connected edges together by transforming lines into surfaces, networks into patterns, and layers into obstacles. 

Julien used parametric design to test possible thread intersections, and computational tools to script the logical sequence of the weave. This sequence generated a weave that simulates bodily movement and transcends the loom itself. On further iterations, the warp and weft began to articulate a series of emerging openings, intersections, thresholds, and passages. Together, they challenge our preconceptions about spatial boundaries, agency in design, and materiality. Each thread expresses a negotiation between outside and inside, beauty and use, private and public, art and design. 

While this research does not propose an alternative to rigid building structures, weaving of this type could subdivide interior spaces by creating semi-transparent partitions, or connect building façades with filamentary canopies. Weaving can promote the engagement of people with the built environment, where a form comes into existence as the embodiment of a rhythmic collective movement.

Advisor: Theodora Vardouli