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AD Classics: TWA Flight Center / Eero Saarinen

04:00 - 13 June, 2016
AD Classics: TWA Flight Center / Eero Saarinen, © Cameron Blaylock
© Cameron Blaylock

Built in the early days of airline travel, the TWA Terminal is a concrete symbol of the rapid technological transformations which were fueled by the outset of the Second World War. Eero Saarinen sought to capture the sensation of flight in all aspects of the building, from a fluid and open interior, to the wing-like concrete shell of the roof. At TWA’s behest, Saarinen designed more than a functional terminal; he designed a monument to the airline and to aviation itself.

This AD Classic features a series of exclusive images by Cameron Blaylock, photographed in May 2016. Blaylock used a Contax camera and Zeiss lenses with Rollei black and white film to reflect camera technology of the 1960s.

© Cameron Blaylock © Cameron Blaylock © Cameron Blaylock © Cameron Blaylock +26

See Le Corbusier’s Convent de la Tourette Come to Life in this New Video

14:00 - 22 May, 2016

One of the most significant buildings of the late modernist style, Le Corbusier’s Convent de la Tourette exemplifies the architect’s style and sensibilities in the latter end of his career. Built between 1956 and 1960 on a hillside near Lyon, France, the priory dominates the landscape, with its strict, geometric form.

Open Call: EFFIX Pavilion

05:45 - 20 May, 2016
Open Call: EFFIX Pavilion, EFFIX Pavilion Contest for the Sea Garden in Varna
EFFIX Pavilion Contest for the Sea Garden in Varna

Devnya Cement AD, a member of Italcementi Group, and Varna Design Forum invite all students of architecture and design, and all young professionals up to 35 years old from all over the world to participate in the international contest for conceptual design of a small trading pavilion, to be situated in the Seaside Park in the city of Varna. The goal is to enrich the urban design of Varna through the realization of a contemporary and inspiring concept for a trading pavilion constructed with the innovative materials of Italcementi Group. The contest will finish with the announcement of a winner selected by a five-member Jury Panel. The winner will be awarded with monetary prize, visit to the "i.lab" research center in Italy and realization of their project as a real-size prototype.

AD Classics: Bergisel Ski Jump / Zaha Hadid Architects

04:00 - 9 May, 2016
AD Classics: Bergisel Ski Jump / Zaha Hadid Architects, © Helene Binet
© Helene Binet

Situated on the peak of Bergisel Mountain above the picturesque alpine city of Innsbruck, Austria, the Bergisel Ski Jump represents the contemporary incarnation of a historic landmark. Designed by Zaha Hadid between 1999 and 2002, the Ski Jump is a study in formal expression: its sweeping lines and minimalist aesthetic create a sense of graceful, high-speed motion, reflecting the dynamic sensation of a ski jump in a monumental structure that stands above the historic center of Innsbruck and the mountain slopes around.

© Helene Binet © Zaha Hadid Architects © Zaha Hadid Architects © Helene Binet +27

Hear the Sounds of Buildings in This Song By the “Wikisinger”

14:00 - 24 April, 2016

Buildings and cityscapes – or the lack thereof – change the way we hear significantly. Acousticians and acoustic engineers are often hired to solve problems with sound leakage, but few people consider the difference between a shout across a city block and the same shout down a closed hallway. In this video, the differences in sound quality in various environments are compared, as the “Wikisinger” performs the same song in 15 places.

Cycling between places like a cathedral, a field in front of oil naves, a concrete tunnel, an abandoned attic and a silence chamber, the acoustic differences between each space are made clear as the song reverberates or lands flatly against the walls surrounding it. Splicing and augmenting the different sounds of each place, the singer creates a kind of orchestra of architecture, inviting listeners to take a second to hear the buildings around them.

AD Classics: Vitra Fire Station / Zaha Hadid

04:00 - 21 April, 2016
AD Classics: Vitra Fire Station / Zaha Hadid, © Christian Richters
© Christian Richters

Although Zaha Hadid began her remarkable architectural career in the late 1970s, it would not be until the 1990s that her work would lift out her drawings and paintings  to be realized in physical form. The Vitra Fire Station, designed for the factory complex of the same name in Weil-am-Rhein, Germany, was the among the first of Hadid’s design projects to be built. The building’s obliquely intersecting concrete planes, which serve to shape and define the street running through the complex, represent the earliest attempt to translate Hadid’s fantastical, powerful conceptual drawings into a functional architectural space.

© Helene Binet © Helene Binet © Helene Binet © Helene Binet +24

Monocle 24 Investigate the Changing Use and Role of Concrete

04:00 - 11 April, 2016
Monocle 24 Investigate the Changing Use and Role of Concrete, Park Hill, Sheffield. Image Courtesy of Monocle
Park Hill, Sheffield. Image Courtesy of Monocle

This episode of Section DMonocle 24's weekly review of design, architecture and craft, examines the changing use and role of "one of the most simultaneously decried and admired materials in twentieth century architecture:" concrete. Exploring the "unlikely revival of a polarising product" in the cultural perception of many, this cheap, abundant and energy-hungry resource is studied as one of the most prolific and diverse building materials in history.

3 Materials With the Potential to Improve Traditional Concrete

14:00 - 18 March, 2016
3 Materials With the Potential to Improve Traditional Concrete, TAKTL's ultra-high-performance concrete panels on the Waikiki Business Plaza by MGA Architecture. Image Courtesy of TAKTL
TAKTL's ultra-high-performance concrete panels on the Waikiki Business Plaza by MGA Architecture. Image Courtesy of TAKTL

It's no secret that among the architecture profession's biggest sources of guilt is our reliance on concrete in a huge number of the buildings that we have a hand in creating. Architects are more likely than most to be aware of the environmental implications of the material, and yet we continue to use it at an alarming rate. But what alternatives are there in order to do our job? In an article for Forbes, Laurie Winkless runs down a list of three alternatives that stand a good chance of changing the face of concrete construction.

How Thomas Edison Tried and Failed to Make Single-Pour Concrete Homes

15:00 - 21 February, 2016
How Thomas Edison Tried and Failed to Make Single-Pour Concrete Homes, Initial Blueprints for Edison's 1908 Patent.. Image via Slate
Initial Blueprints for Edison's 1908 Patent.. Image via Slate

Concrete is one of the most widely innovated and improved upon building technologies in the world. With applications in both pre-fabrication and continuous pouring, the material has become a hot-bed for applications in fabrication techniques, from incredible, monolithic forms, to 3D-printing.

But behind all of the successes, there have been countless failures, including a well-intended innovation by famous American inventor Thomas Edison. Filed on August 13, 1908, Edison’s ill-fated patent was a home that could be built with a single pour of concrete, reports Slate. Although Thomas Edison had previous ventures in concrete, including a cement plant in Stewartsville, New Jersey, as well as several patented improvements in the cement-making process, his venture into concrete construction may have just been too ambitious.

The Guardian's Rowan Moore Names 10 Best Concrete Buildings

06:00 - 11 February, 2016
The Guardian's Rowan Moore Names 10 Best Concrete Buildings

“Concrete has the ability to be primitive and technological, massive and levitating, to combine the properties of steel with those of mud,” says Rowan Moore in his list of The 10 best concrete buildings created for The Guardian. Through examples spanning three continents, Moore unites old standbys with unexpected wonders, all of which show the varied possibilities inherent in mixing water, aggregate, and cement. In a list that incorporates examples from Classical times to the present, Moore establishes concrete’s unique ability to adapt to different times, styles, applications, and treatments.

Examples by Le Corbusier, Álvaro Siza, Lina Bo Bardi, and Marcel Breuer demonstrate that concrete is anything but workaday or utilitarian. Moore’s list affirms that a material simultaneously strong and light, durable, sustainable, and fire-resistant, can scarcely be considered anything short of miraculous. Of course, ten buildings can only provide an abridged version of concrete’s possibilities, and Moore cheekily apologizes for some of the obvious omissions. Check out the full list here.

Bartlett Students Develop New Method for 3D Printing Concrete

12:00 - 21 January, 2016
Bartlett Students Develop New Method for 3D Printing Concrete, 3D printed concrete table. Image © Amalgamma
3D printed concrete table. Image © Amalgamma

Four Masters students from Bartlett School of Architecture - Francesca Camilleri, Nadia Doukhi, Alvaro Lopez Rodriguez and Roman Strukov - have developed a new method for 3D printing large-scale, self-supporting concrete structures. With their project Fossilised, the team, known as Amalgamma, combined two existing concrete 3D printing methods - the extrusion printing method and the powder printing method - to create a form of supported extrusion that allows for "more volumetric" concrete structures. 

"The supported extrusion method has therefore presented the opportunity to design forms that are more varied and more volumetric, as opposed to the very straight vertical forms so far achieved in 3D concrete practice," says Amalgamma. 

Will This Be the Concrete Used to Build on Mars?

16:00 - 6 January, 2016
Will This Be the Concrete Used to Build on Mars?, Clouds AO and SEArch won NASA's Mars Habitat Competition with a 3D-printed house made of ice; would Martian concrete have been a simpler option?. Image © Clouds AO and SEArch
Clouds AO and SEArch won NASA's Mars Habitat Competition with a 3D-printed house made of ice; would Martian concrete have been a simpler option?. Image © Clouds AO and SEArch

"All we need now are a new generation of Martian architects to design buildings made of Martian concrete that will be suitable structures for humans to live and work in," concludes the MIT Technology Review in their report on a new type of concrete designed for use on Mars.

Developed by scientists led by Lin Wan at Northwestern University, this "Martian concrete" is just one of many scientific developments that will be required for the increasingly popular goal of sending humans to, and eventually colonizing, the Red Planet (apparently the un-colonized Moon is already old hat - just ask Matt Damon).

This Innovative Concrete Slab System Uses up to 55% Less Concrete

16:00 - 23 December, 2015
This Innovative Concrete Slab System Uses up to 55% Less Concrete, Courtesy of Holedeck
Courtesy of Holedeck

One of the defining images of the 2014 Venice Biennale came from Rem Koolhaas' "Elements of Architecture" exhibition, where a section of a suspended false ceiling, replete with ducts and wiring, was dramatically juxtaposed with the soaring domed ceiling of the Giardini's central pavilion. The gesture was intended as a criticism of architecture's reduction to mere surface treatment - but to the makers of Holedeck, a structural system which recently won CTBUH's 2015 Tall Building Innovation Award, the sins of the typical concrete slab and suspended ceiling are much more far-reaching.

Holedeck's concrete slab system claims to use 55% less concrete than a standard concrete slab, making it significantly more environmentally friendly than standard concrete structures, while reducing the thickness of floor plates to allow a greater number of floors in tall buildings.

Holedeck with mechanical and electrical systems installed. Image Courtesy of Holedeck One available configuration of Holedeck. Image Courtesy of Holedeck Courtesy of Holedeck Courtesy of Holedeck +16

Félix Guyon's Sails Benches are Anchored in Montreal

12:00 - 20 December, 2015
Félix Guyon's Sails Benches are Anchored in Montreal	, © Félix Guyon, via v2com newswire
© Félix Guyon, via v2com newswire

Designed by Félix Guyon of Les Ateliers Guyon in Verchères, Quebec, "Sails Benches" is a monument to the original founding families of Verchères, commissioned by the municipality. Having worked in Montreal for many years, Guyon returned to his native village for this personal project, which was selected as the winning design of the Furniture Category at the World Interiors Awards 2015 in London, "charming" the judges with the personal narrative and sensitivity of his Sail Benches, according to a press release. Read more about the project after the break.

Build a Miniature Concrete Village with SPACES

12:00 - 21 November, 2015
Build a Miniature Concrete Village with SPACES, © Sameer Tawde
© Sameer Tawde

“As space begins to be captured, enclosed, molded, and organized by the elements of mass and volume, architecture comes into being.”

With influential concrete buildings like Le Corbusier’s Villa Savoye, Frank Lloyd Wright’s Falling Water, and Tadao Ando’s Church of the Light in mind, Mumbai-based Material Immaterial studio has created SPACES, a set of miniature concrete pieces. “Each piece is an individually complete space defined by volumes and voids,” offering the basis for users to imagine what could be lying inside. 

© Sameer Tawde © Sameer Tawde © Sameer Tawde © Sameer Tawde +15

Architects Team Up with Khmer Women to Build a Community Centre with Fabric and Concrete

08:00 - 17 November, 2015
Architects Team Up with Khmer Women to Build a Community Centre with Fabric and Concrete, Courtesy of Orkidstudio
Courtesy of Orkidstudio

Using an innovative method of casting concrete in lightweight fabric molds, the architects of Orkidstudio -- along with StructureMode -- teamed up with a group of Khmer women in Sihanoukville, Cambodia to rebuild a community centre in the city’s urban heart.

The construction technique was developed and tested by engineers from StructureMode using a combination of physical testing and computer analysis software, Oasys GSA Suite, to predict the stretch of a particular fabric when concrete is poured inside. Through three-dimensional sketches the seamstresses and building team could understand the construction sequence of the form, completing the entire project in just eight weeks.

Courtesy of Orkidstudio Courtesy of Orkidstudio © Lindsay Perth © Lindsay Perth +39

Ground Control: How Concrete Reshapes Our Relationship to the Earth

09:30 - 28 October, 2015
Ground Control: How Concrete Reshapes Our Relationship to the Earth, Heydar Aliyev Center / Zaha Hadid Architects. Image © Iwan Baan
Heydar Aliyev Center / Zaha Hadid Architects. Image © Iwan Baan

Concrete has long had a close relationship with the earth; as the favorite material for the creation of building foundations, one of its most common uses is effectively as a more reliable replacement for soil. In the twentieth century, concrete’s ability to transform our interaction with the ground was taken to the next step. As architects and engineers explored the opportunities offered by a combination of reinforced concrete and the modernist mindset, multiple attempts were made to replace the ground in a more dramatic way: by creating a new ground, separated from the earth itself. Most widespread among these plans was the engineer’s elevated highway which emerged worldwide, and the most relevant to architects the “streets in the sky” embodied by developments such as the Smithsons’ Robin Hood Gardens. Newcastle-upon-Tyne offers a city-wide example of this theory, embarking on an ambitious plan to become the “Brasilia of the North” by creating an elevated network of pedestrian routes entirely separated from the automobiles below - though the project was abandoned in the 1970s with only small sections implemented.

After Modernism’s dramatic fall from grace in the 1970s and 80s, this project to reinterpret the ground with concrete was largely forgotten. Of course architects still used concrete in their designs, but they were content with a purely traditional relationship to the ground: their buildings were discrete entities which sat upon the earth, and nothing more. However, as explored at length in Stan Allen and Marc McQuade’s 2011 book Landform Building: Architecture's New Terrain, recent years have shown architects willing to work upon the ground once again, in new and exciting ways. In the years since Landform Building’s publication, this trend has only intensified, as demonstrated by the following three projects.

Santa María de los Caballeros Chapel / MGP Arquitectura y Urbanismo. Image © Andrés Valbuena Heydar Aliyev Center / Zaha Hadid Architects. Image © Hélène Binet Mulini Beach / Studio 3LHD. Image © Joao Morgado Santa María de los Caballeros Chapel / MGP Arquitectura y Urbanismo. Image © Andrés Valbuena +10

How 3 Award-Winning Projects Harnessed the Beauty and Power of Concrete

08:00 - 26 October, 2015
How 3 Award-Winning Projects Harnessed the Beauty and Power of Concrete

Long touted for its strength and versatility, concrete has had an integral role in construction and design as far back as the Roman times. And in recent years, concrete’s potential has reached new heights, with many companies developing innovative uses and applications for the material, ranging from concrete reinforced with bamboo to ultra-porous concrete and concrete cloth.

Held annually, the CEMEX Building Awards recognize architecture and construction projects from around the world that use concrete technologies in creative and innovative ways, with a focus on sustainable design and social well-being. We spoke with three of the architecture firms behind winning designs of the 2014 CEMEX Building Awards to see how concrete influenced their design and why they believe concrete to be an important construction material.