New Technology May Double the Height of Skyscrapers

Dubai Skyline; Flickr User rickz; Licensed via Creative Commons

Finnish elevator manufacturer KONE has unveiled a new hoisting technology that will enable to travel heights of one kilometer – twice the distance than currently possible.  The new development implies that the Burj Khalifa, whose longest elevator travels a distance of 504 meters, will not remain the world’s tallest building for very long.

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Woodskin: The Flexible Timber Skin

Courtesy of

Have you ever wanted to create delicate, complex shapes from , but can’t because it’s too stiff and unforgiving? Well all that might soon change, thanks to Milan-based design studio MammaFotogramma. They have created a type of flexible, ‘Woodskin‘ triangular tiles of Russian plywood.

Read more about Woodskin after the break…

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BIG’s West 57th “Pyramid” Wins Final Approval

Courtesy of BIG

After an “arduous” public review and a heated debate over affordable , New York’s City Council has unanimously awarded final approval to BIG’s tetrahedral-shaped West 57th apartment building in . As reported by Crain’s New York Business, a compromise has been made to include 173 affordable housing units within the 32-story, 750-unit residential building and the neighboring industrial building that will be converted into 100 additional rental apartments. As you may recall, the community board and Councilwoman Gail Brewer initially threatened to “torpedo the project” if the apartments were only made affordable for a 35 year period. However, Durst apparently won them over by contributing one million dollars into an affordable housing fund.

“The good news, which is the mantra of my office and community board No. 4, is there will be, yes, by law, 35 years of income-restricted affordable housing,” stated City Councilwoman Brewer, who represents the area.

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USGBC Announces Grant from Google to Accelerate the Advancement of Green Materials

Greenbuild, the world’s largest conference and expo dedicated to green building has commenced in San Francisco with an interesting announcement from the main stage. has granted $3 million to the U.S. Green Building Council () in an effort to transform the building materials industry and accelerate the creation of healthier indoor environments.

“Healthy, non-toxic building materials are a critical component in green building,” said Rick Fedrizzi, President, CEO & Founding Chair, U.S. Green Building Council. “Fostering awareness of the materials we put into our buildings is of paramount importance, since many materials can link to a host of environmental and health issues. Working with Google enables us to broaden our efforts in the materials industry as we prepare for the next version of the LEED green building program, LEED v4. This updated rating system will paint a more complete picture of materials and products, enabling project teams to make more informed decisions.”

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Al Bahar Towers Responsive Facade / Aedas

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A quick glimpse at the upcoming weather for will show a week of intense sunshine, temperatures steadily above 100 degrees Fahrenheit with 0% chance of rain.  In such extreme weather conditions, even architects listing environmental design as their top priority are up against a tough battle.  Never mind that the sand can compromise the structural integrity of the building, the intense heat and glare can render a comfortable indoor environment relatively impossible if not properly addressed.  For Abu Dhabi’s newest pair of towers, Aedas Architects have designed a responsive facade which takes cultural cues from the “mashrabiya”, a traditional Islamic lattice shading device.

More about the towers’ shading system after the break. (more…)

E8 Building / Coll-Barreu Arquitectos

© Aleix Bagué

Architects: Coll-Barreu Arquitectos – Juan Coll-Barreu, Daniel Gutiérrez Zarza
Location: Vitoria,
Project Area: 12,974 sqm
Completion: 2011
Photographs: Aleix Bagué

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Michael Green presents ‘The Case for Tall Wood Buildings’

Courtesy of

Driven by the desire to find safe, carbon-neutral and sustainable alternatives to the incumbent structural materials of the urban world, Michael Green, Principal at Michael Green Architecture, has shared with us this highly-anticipated feasibility study, The Case for Tall Wood Buildings. The 200-page document encourages architects, engineers and designers to push the envelope of conventional thinking by demonstrating that is a viable material for tall and large buildings and exposing its environmental and economic benefits.

Co-author Michael Green explains, “To slow and contain greenhouse gas emissions and find truly sustainable solutions to building, we must look at the fundamentals of the way we build – from the bones of large urban building structures to the details of energy performance. We need to search for the big picture solutions of today’s vast climate, environmental, economic and world housing needs.” (more…)

Manifestations : The Immediate Future of 3D Printing Buildings and Materials Science

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The future potential to build and realize the concepts of the human mind lie just there, within the potential of the human mind. For years the architectural world has been struggling to keep up with the ability of pen-to-paper and the recent advents in NURB surface computer modeling, algorithmic and parametric architecture. This in-return has led to the  building and technology industry playing catch-up with the recent advances in 3D architectural visualizations. In fact, as computer-aided design invaded these practices in the 1980s, radically transforming their generative foundations and productive capacities, architecture found itself most out-of-step and least alert, immersed in ideological and tautological debates and adrift in a realm of referents severed from material production.

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Digital Fabrication / SketchChair

SketchChair, Process Diagram

Digital fabrication has been a popular discussion among architecture and design professionals. Students are digitally fabricating their models and building their own personalized 3D printers. What was impossible to build by hand is quickly assembled through digital fabrication. As the technology rapidly evolves, larger objects are being fabricated at more affordable prices. Today we may be digitally fabricating furniture and tomorrow we might be 3D printing our house. Architects and designers are jumping on board and exploring the capabilities of this game changing technology.

Diatom Studio is currently working on releasing SketchChair. This program offers easy to use, open-source software that allows you to design your own personalized digital furniture. With a few clicks of a mouse, you can view your masterpiece and digitally occupy it in order to test its comfort level and structural capabilities. Options range from personalized ready-made designs to more advanced features that allow you to design your chair from scratch.

Satisfied with your design? Perfect. The SketchChair allows you to export your masterpiece to any digital-fabrication service instantly. In a matter of days, you will receive your customized CNC-milled parts for quick hand construction. Digital fabrication is changing the world of design and becoming available to the masses.

2011 matR Project: “The Passage”

© Victoria Capranica

A team of graduate students recently created a temporary installation on the State University, campus in . The project grew out of an internal challenge in the matR design competition. Designed by graduate students Brian Thoma, Carl, Veith, Victoria, Capranica, Matt Veith, and Griffin Morris, the tunnel-like structure called “The Passage” was a study to support the conceptualization and actualization of innovative and experimental material research. The students created the initial form in Rhinoceros with a couple Grasshopper definitions as a waffle structure of 26 vertical ribs and 24 horizontal struts. More images and information after the break. (more…)

The Pros and Cons of Cargo Container Architecture

Photo by Håkan Dahlström - http://www.flickr.com/photos/dahlstroms/

With the green premise growing in popularity across the globe, more and more people are turning to cargo container structures for green alternatives. There are countless numbers of empty, unused shipping containers around the world just sitting on shipping docks taking up space. The reason for this is that it’s too expensive for a country to ship empty containers back to their origin. In most cases, it’s just cheaper to buy new containers from Asia. The result is an extremely high surplus of empty shipping containers that are just waiting to become a home, office, apartment, school, dormitory, studio, emergency shelter, and everything else. More information after the break.

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Recycling+Building Materials

© Paula Bailey - http://www.flickr.com/photos/auntiep/

In today’s world “going green” has become a top priority in our society, and sustainable buildings and design are at the forefront of this green revolution. While many designers are focusing on passive and active energy systems, the reuse of recycled materials is beginning to stand out as an innovative, highly effective, and artistic expression of sustainable design. Reusing materials from existing on site and nearby site elements such as trees, structures, and paving is becoming a trend in the built environment, however more unorthodox materials such as soda and are being discovered as recyclable building materials. Materials and projects featured after the break.

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Green Building / Forward

Courtesy of

The project presented here – Green Building: Madan Technology Center – was planned by the Forward architectural firm following a commission by the Association of the / Setúbal Science and Technology Park – Madan Parque.  The site is located in Portugal, on a site near the Faculty of Sciences and Technology – Nova University and is designed to host the Company Innovation program and a Data Centre serving the Lisbon and Tagus Valley region. Given its characteristics, the infrastructure shall serve as a pole of attraction for high technology companies in the context of an architectural proposal that is moving towards innovative solutions to the environmental issues of today.

More details on this project after the break. (more…)

Subdivision / Michael Hansmeyer

© Hansmeyer

When we came across the work of Michael Hansmeyer, we were struck by the complexity and the seemingly delicacy of his work.   Educated as an architect and computer programmer, Hansmeyer intends to create a new kind of architectural expression using the mathematics of algorithms.   “On the one hand, their [algorithms] computational power can address processes with a scale and complexity that precludes a manual approach. On the other hand, algorithms can generate endless permutations of a scheme. A slight tweaking of either the input or the process leads to an instant adaptation of output. When combined with an evaluative function, they can be used to recursively optimize output on both a functional and aesthetic level,” explained Hansmeyer.  His Subdivision project features geometrically intricate surfaces that create an artistically articulated variety of columns.   The 2.7 meter high columns are fabricated as a layered model with sheets 1mm thick.

More about the process after the break. (more…)

T-Wall Housing / New World Design LLC

Construction Diagram

Turning an element synonymous with security in into a method for constructing affordable housing, New World Design LLC has shared with us their T-Wall Housing proposal for Al Qurnah, Basrah, Iraq. Follow after the jump for further images and a description from the architects.
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WOODPILE / Noa Biran + Roy Talmon

Courtesy of

The Warming Huts competition called for a collaboration between artists, architects and designers to put forward ideas for shelter and to be constructed along the Assiniboine River in Winnipeg, Manitoba, . Noa Biran and Roy Talman submitted the Woodpile, an interactive and practical shelter, that responds to both the needs required by the climate and its users.

More on this project after the break. (more…)

Smart Future Minds Award: Project Lighting Device / GilBartolome ADW

Courtesy of

Architects GilBartolome ADW won the first prize in the competition Smart Future Minds Award with the project Lighting Device which aimed at anticipating technological and environmental aspects for the future of the city. Jurors selected this project for its viability, its vision for the future and the exclusive use of renewable energies and its potential as a social activator in the urban realm.

Read on after the break for more images and information. (more…)

Western Red Cedar Architectural Design Awards Winners

Courtesy of Bohlin Cywinski Jackson
The six winners of the Western Red Cedar Architectural Design Awards are presented here.  The competition demonstrated the architects’ abilities to express innovative structural techniques and surfaces in new construction and in renovations using Western Red Cedar.  Winners included Bohlin Cywinski Jackson, Mark Cavagnero Associates, Chadbourne + Doss Architects, Albert de Pineda Álvarez and Manuel Brullet Tenas, Bureau B+B, and Alfred Waugh Architects.
More images and information after the break. (more…)