Phototropia is part of an ongoing series on the application of smart materials in an architectural context and was realized in April 2012 by the Master of Advanced Studies class at the Chair for Computer Aided Architectural Design (CAAD). The project combines self-made electro-active polymers, screen-printed electroluminescent displays, eco-friendly bioplastics and thin-film dye-sensitized solar cells into an autonomous installation that produces its required energy from sunlight and – when charged – responds to user presence through moving and illuminating elements.
Find more information at Responsive Design.
The days of carrying around rolls of construction documents on site are in flux. The rapid change of both software and hardware has already dramatically changed the way architects, engineers, and general contractors communicate with each other. For those of you who do site visits on a regular basis, you are no doubt familiar with the relatively drawn out process the contractor has to take in order to get clarification on a detail or problem distillation – taking pictures of detail, scanning redlines, emailing to architect, etc. However, what if, and it is happening, you can bring out an iPad or similar device with all the drawings loaded ready to view in palm of your hand. Questions can simply be marked up right on the spot and instantly fired off for review or approval.
The field of architecture has been immersed with a digital environment for decades now, but with the advent of BIM and smarter modeling it only makes sense to take the next step forward and leave the paper trail of construction drawings behind. One can simply load up a BIM model on their portable device on site and have a resolution achieved within a much shorter time frame. In a fast paced environment where time is a critical factor, expediting the construction process from both within the office and out in the field is mutually beneficial for all parties involved.
In continuing with our coverage of the research of the GRASP Lab based out of the University of Pennsylvania, this recent TEDTalk 2012 outlines some of the unique opportunities that can be explored and possibly implemented in the near future with robots that fly. From an architectural and construction perspective, a wide variety of tasks can be accomplished. While still only on a small scale, the demonstrations in the video showcase a myriad of diverse abilities that are achievable. The quad rotor robots are able to navigate complex geometry through the use of onboard laser scanners and cameras. The video also demonstrates the ability of these robots to work together in swarms for tasks such as assembling a scale building based on a programmable blueprint. Watch the video to see what the future may hold for a fully automated construction site.
Remember the “Cosmic Quilt” kickstarter campaign we published a few weeks ago? Well, it was a success! With the help 20 students from the Art Institute of New York, The Principals were able to construct a reactive architectural environment just in time for the New York Design Week that took place May 19-21.
Continue after the break for more.
Neri Oxman is an architect and founder of MATERIALECOLOGY with the MIT Media Lab. Her work focuses on computational strategies for form finding; she chooses to define and design processes that generate form. She has published numerous papers and has contributed to various texts. Her work has also been featured at the MOMA for the exhibit “Design and the Elastic Mind“, which she designed four systems of processes. In this lecture posted by PopTech, Oxman discusses what the processes of nature can teach designers and how computational strategies defined by materials and the environment can expand the possibilities of the generation of form through algorithms and analysis.
Follow us after the break for more. (more…)
Pegasus Global Holdings, LLC, a private international technology development firm, has announced plans to build a new billon-plus dollar city capable housing 35,000 people Lea County, New Mexico. However, no one will live there. The vacant city will be a full-scale, fully functional test city, dedicated to enabling and facilitating the commercialization of new and emerging technologies. Looking for a place to test out that self-driving truck? Look no further. The Center for Innovation, Testing and Evaluation (CITE) will provide 15-square-miles of resident-free cityscape in the middle of the New Mexico’s Chihuahuan Desert.
Continue after the break to learn more about CITE. (more…)
The old red-brick building sporting a “BEER” sign may not look impressive, but what is going on inside certainly is. “The Plant” is an indoor vertical farm that triples as a food-business incubator and research/education space located inside an 87-year old meat packing factory in the Union Stockyards of Chicago, Illinois. The project was partly funded by the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity with a $1.5 million grant. Browse through the Plant Chicago’s Flickr Photostream and you can watch the space steadily transform into an urban farm that will grow fresh produce, farm fresh fish, brew beer and produce kombucha all while recycling the waste of the facility to make it a Net-Zero Energy System.
How does it work? Follow us after the break to learn more. (more…)
Danish architects from 1:1 Arkitektur, in collaboration with Facit Homes, are constructing an entire house in just four weeks with only their computer and a CNC machine. Constructed entirely out of wood, the printed house demonstrates a sustainable, quick and affordable alternative to conventional building that minimizes waste and simplifies the buildings process. Many argue that this way of building is the future of construction.
MATT Construction is utilizing an innovative new slab technology called BubbleDeck, which replaces a significant percentage of a slab’s concrete mass with hollow or foam-filled plastic balls, made from recycled plastic material. The Teaching and Learning Building at Harvey Mudd College (HMC), designed by Boora Architects with structural engineering provided by kpff, will be the first above-ground building in the United States to employ the technology. HMC has enthusiastically embraced this project on their campus. More images and project description after the break. (more…)
The Principals, a Brooklyn-based practice that work on industrial design and interactive environments, are posing a question to the design community: What would it be like if the environment we inhabit responded to our present in an active way? What if we shift the scale of the way in which our devices operate to the way our buildings function? The questions posed by The Principals are the considerations of a project called Cosmic Quilt that is planned to be exhibited on Design Week 2012 on May 19-21. In order to create a mock-up of this type of space, the group is enlisting the help of 20 students from the Art Institute of New York and the help of financial backer’s through Kickstarter.
More on the planned project after the break. (more…)
Dr. Margot Krasojevic is known for using digital parameters to explore the psychological effects of architecture – materials and spatiality – on its inhabitants. The Hanging Hotel / Suspended Campsite is one such project that was completed in October 2011 for Holden Manz Wine Estate Cape Town in Massif de L’ Esterel, (Gorges Du Vedron) South of France. The project is an investigation in the choreography of perceptions of the environment around us. In this particular project, catering to rock climbers, Dr. Krasojevic uses compound glass and a prism louver system to alter how the climbers see their environment and stimulates different psychological experiences based on these subtle shifts in vision.
More on this project after the break.
A secondary school project in Gando, Burkina Faso, a community center project in São Paulo, Brazil, and an urban renewal plan in Berlin, Germany are the winners of the Global Holcim Awards for 2012. These leading sustainable construction projects were selected from 15 finalist submissions by a jury of independent experts led by Enrique Norten. The finalists were the regional Holcim Awards 2011 winning projects that had been selected from more than 6,000 entries in 146 countries.
All 53 prize-winning projects at the regional level also competed for further prizes based on their contributions to sustainable construction through innovative building materials and construction technologies. The Global Holcim Innovation prizes conferred by a jury of materials and industry experts led by Harry Gugger went to projects in Switzerland, Germany and the United Kingdom.
Continue after the break to view the winning proposals!
Walk into the cafeteria at the Googleplex and you are nudged into the “right” choice. Sweets? Color-coded red and placed on the bottom shelf to make them just a bit harder to reach. “Instead of that chocolate bar, sir, wouldn’t you much rather consume this oh-so-conveniently-located apple? It’s good for you! Look, we labelled it green!” 
Like the Google cafeteria guides you to take responsibility of your health, Google wants to transform the construction industry to take responsibility of the “health” of its buildings. They have been leveraging for transparency in the content of building materials, so that, like consumers who read what’s in a Snickers bar before eating it, they’ll know the “ingredients” of materials to choose the greenest, what they call “healthiest,” options.
These examples illustrate the trend of “medicalization” in our increasingly health-obsessed society: when ordinary problems (such as construction, productivity, etc.) are defined and understood in medical terms. In their book Imperfect Health, Borasi and Zardini argue that through this process, architecture and design has been mistakenly burdened with the normalizing, moralistic function of “curing” the human body. 
While I find the idea that design should “force” healthiness somewhat paternalistic and ultimately limited, I don’t think this “medicalized” language is all bad – especially if we can use it in new and revitalizing ways. Allow me to prescribe two examples: the most popular and the (potentially) most ambitious urban renewal projects in New York City today, the High Line and the Delancey Underground (or the Low Line).
More on “curative” spaces after the break. (Trust me, it’s good for you.)
The announcement instigated a flurry of analyses and criticisms over the meaning of the design for the world – the Zen-like significance of the circle, the role of architecture in this technologically-driven age, the legacy and hubris of Jobs – but produced very little discussion over its meaning for the company itself.
Meanwhile, months before news of the “spaceship” landed, another internet giant was searching the California landscape for its own space to call home. Still very much under-wraps, the new Googleplex will be the first time Google builds a workplace completely from scratch. 
These projects will be the Magnum Opuses, the ultimate physical representations, of the two most influential Tech companies in the world, and the two share striking similarities. So let’s clash the plans of these two titans and take another look at Apple 2 – but this time in the light of Google – and see what they can tell us about these companies’ futures.
Digital technology touches nearly everyone’s life. Be it delivered through cell phones, home entertainment devices, ATMs, storefronts or countless other means, digital design is big business and Robert Miles Kemp is at the forefront of that exploding movement.
The son of a carpenter and general contractor, Kemp visited job sites from the time he was small. At nine years old, his father gave him the challenge of designing a structure for a neighbor, which was subsequently built. Kemp loved both the process and the end product. Thus began a career in architecture. More after the break.
This unique landscape and future landmark for the city of Qingdao, China is a first place project, submitted by the Los Angeles office of HKS Architects, for the design of the Conservatory by the Office of 2014 Qingdao World Horticultural Expo Executive Committee. The winning proposal was selected from an international selection of projects and was shared with us by HKS. Read on for more after the break.