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From Seville to San Francisco: 3 Pelli Clarke Pelli Projects in Progress

US firm Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects is renowned for their iconic and sustainable designs, having won numerous awards, including the AIA’s Firm Award. They currently have several projects under construction, ranging from a transit center in San Francisco to an office and retail tower in Seville, Spain. Read on after the break for an overview of three of their current projects, all in various states of completion.

Study Shows that Timber Buildings Cost Less to Build

A new study shows that timber buildings can be up to 10-15% cheaper to construct than traditional designs in several different building types. The study, “Commercial Building Costing Case Studies – Traditional Design versus Timber Project,” was led by Andrew Dunn, chief executive of the Timber Development Association (TDA) in Australia. Part of a seminar series touring Australia, the report contains detailed designs of four building types in both timber and conventional construction, with a quantity surveyor comparing cost estimates between them. See how timber compared to conventional methods after the break.

10 Revealing Time-Lapse Videos that Explore Architecture's Impact in Construction

Designers are trained to consider the context for a finished building, but often neglect to consider the construction phase. When architecture is primarily judged based on the impacts it has on their surroundings once they are built, what can be learned from the process of building? The time-lapse is a method that can help architects to do just that, as it can capture years of complex development in a matter of minutes. This can uncover patterns of impact on social and economic levels, as months to years are played back over several minutes.

What is shown by time-lapse videos, though, can be as disturbing as it is interesting; when uncovered, the construction process is a revealing process, and the ramifications in regard to energy consumption can be as monumental as the buildings themselves. The time-lapse allows the viewer to get a better understanding of the types and amounts of materials being put into the construction of buildings, and the impact construction has on its immediate surroundings. By comparing time-lapse videos of different projects, what insight can we gain about how the physically generative process of architecture affects people and place?

Digitized Stone: ZAarchitects Develop “Smart Masonry”

When one hears the term masonry architecture, digital fabrication and automated construction processes are probably not the first ideas to come to mind. By its very nature, the architecture produced with stone masonry is often heavy, massive, and incorporates less natural light than alternative methods. However, with their research proposal for "Smart Masonry," ZAarchitects are proposing to change masonry buildings as we know them and open opportunities for digital fabrication techniques in stone and other previously antiquated materials. Read on after the break to get a glimpse of what these new masonry buildings could look like and learn more about the process behind their construction.

Courtesy of ZAarchitects Courtesy of ZAarchitects Courtesy of ZAarchitects Courtesy of ZAarchitects

The Robot Revolution: Coop Himmelb(l)au Founder Wolf D. Prix on the Future of Construction

With a recently released animation entitled “We Start the Future of Construction,” Coop Himmelb(l)au announced their intention to take digital fabrication to a radical new scale, demonstrating how technology is impacting almost every aspect of the architectural profession. The advent of building information modeling and other modeling software has transformed how architects and engineers navigate the construction process, allowing us to achieve increasingly complex forms that can be modeled with the aid of CNC machining and 3D Printing, but still there remains a wide gap between the technologies available to architects and those employed by builders. When it comes to a building’s actual construction we have been limited by the great costs associated with non-standard components and labor - but now, the automated practices that transformed manufacturing industries could revolutionize how we make buildings.

Last week, ArchDaily sat down with co-founder, Design Principal and CEO of Coop Himmelb(l)auWolf D. Prix for his thoughts on the future of construction and the role of the architect in an increasingly technological practice. Read on after the break to find out how robots could impact architectural design, construction, and the future of the profession.

Screenshot from Video. Image Courtesy of Coop Himmelb(l)au Screenshot from Video. Image Courtesy of Coop Himmelb(l)au Screenshot from Video. Image Courtesy of Coop Himmelb(l)au Screenshot from Video. Image Courtesy of Coop Himmelb(l)au

New Research Proves that Iron Was an Important Medieval Building Material

The Gothic cathedrals of the middle ages have long been respected as sites of significant architectural and structural experimentation. Hoping to reach ever closer to God, the master masons of the period took increasingly daring structural risks, resulting in some remarkably durably buildings that are not only timeless spaces for worship but miraculous feats of engineering. However, according to new research by a team of French archaeologists and scientists, we still haven't been giving these historic builders enough credit.

Though iron components feature in many Gothic buildings, often forming structural ties to stabilize tall stone buttresses, it was previously assumed that these were later additions to shore up precarious structures. However, thanks to a highly sophisticated carbon dating technique, the team consisting of the Laboratoire archéomatériaux et prévision de l'altération, the Laboratoire de mesure du carbone 14 and "Histoire des pouvoirs, savoirs et sociétés" of Université Paris 8 have shown that iron fixtures were an integral part of cathedral construction techniques from as early as the late 12th Century - meaning that many buildings from the period were essentially hybrid structural systems.

Why is it So Expensive to Build in London?

London is the world’s most expensive city to build in, but the reasons may surprise you. The city is well known for its high cost of living despite being far less crowded than cities such as Tokyo and New York. In fact, commercial real estate in London’s West End costs nearly twice as much as similarly sized spaces on New York’s Madison Avenue.

CurrentSet: A Digital Drawing App That Fosters Collaboration

CurrentSet, one of a number of cloud-based digital apps for managing construction drawings on the go, seeks to foster collaboration among architects, project managers and on-site professionals. Uniquely, the app is offered free of charge before allowing users to add features as and when they require them. 

PlanGrid Launches Educational Offering

PlanGrid, touted as "the fastest blueprint viewer" available, is one of the most mature apps for viewing, amending and discussing construction drawings on a collaborative cloud-based platform. This week they launched PlanGrid for Education, allowing students full and uninhibited access to every feature of the app free of charge. According to the company, they currently have "40,000 blueprints being uploaded to PlanGrid daily and over 9 million blueprints stored digitally", making the platform one of the fastest growing in its market.

Ten Buildings Pushing The Boundaries of Wood

Perkins + Will UBC Earth Sciences Building. Image © Martin Tessler
Perkins + Will UBC Earth Sciences Building. Image © Martin Tessler

Wood is the ultimate material - it's renewable, sequesters carbon and more importantly, it's buildable. Nevertheless wood is rarely used in tall, vertical construction. Now reThink wood has come out with their Tall Wood Survey (available in full on their website), which surveyed over 50 wood experts to explore three main areas in which wood is usually questioned: financing, insurance and performance. But beyond discussing the pros and cons of wood, the survey also highlights 10 projects that show how wood products are being used in ways you never thought existed. See all ten innovative projects, after the break. 

Metamorphosis in Hong Kong Documented in 'Cocoon' Photo Series

In 1994, a routine construction technique that has been practiced in Hong Kong for over 100 years caught the attention of photographer Peter Steinhauer - and led him to put almost a decade of work into capturing this unique urban phenomenon. The bamboo scaffolding and fabric wrappings he photographs serve the simple purpose of catching construction debris, but at a glance they look more like works by Christo and Jeanne Claude, the artists that have made their name wrapping buildings like the Reichstag in Berlin.

The resulting photos showcase the colossal towers of Hong Kong wrapped in brightly-colored fabric; their usually varied facades are made monolithic, like a plastic massing model rendered full-size. Steinhauer named his photo series "Cocoons" due to the effect they create over time: the buildings metamorphose under cover and emerge transformed.

Read on for more photos of these urban cocoons

© Peter Steinhauer © Peter Steinhauer © Peter Steinhauer © Peter Steinhauer

The Steel Age Is Over. Has The Next Age Begun?

Andrew Carnegie once said, “Aim for the highest.” He followed his own advice. The powerful 19th century steel magnate had the foresight to build a bridge spanning the Mississippi river, a total of 6442 feet. In 1874, the primary structural material was iron — steel was the new kid on the block. People were wary of steel, scared of it even. It was an unproven alloy.

Nevertheless, after the completion of Eads Bridge in St. Louis, Andrew Carnegie generated a publicity stunt to prove steel was in fact a viable building material. A popular superstition of the day stated that an elephant would not cross an unstable bridge. On opening day, a confident Carnegie, the people of St. Louis and a four-ton elephant proceeded to cross the bridge. The elephant was met on the other side with pompous fanfare. What ensued was the greatest vertical building boom in American history, with Chicago and New York pioneering the cause. That’s right people; you can thank an adrenaline-junkie elephant for changing American opinion on the safety of steel construction.

So if steel replaced iron - as iron replaced bronze and bronze, copper -  what will replace steel? Carbon Fiber.

Wood Encouragement Policy Coming To Australia

Latrobe City Council is pushing an initiative that would put “wood first.” If implemented, the “Wood Encouragement Policy” would educate architects and industry professionals about the structural and environmental benefits of wood in an effort to promote the local timber industry and use of sustainable building materials. Following the lead of the United States and New Zealand, both of which recently established “wood encouragement” policies, the council hopes that this will set a precedent that can be applied throughout the rest of Australia. 

Archibot to Print CAD Data "Error Free" onto Construction Sites

Archibot, a project currently being developed by South Korean architectural designer Han Seok Nam, aims to "revolutionize" how architects and contractors work on construction sites by printing digital CAD plans onto the ground "error free." Having recently been granted a patent, the robot seeks to avoid the human errors associated with interpreting information from construction documents. 

According to Nam, a contractor "will be able to grasp exactly where the door and the wall needs to be constructed by having the construction documents be printed directly onto the site without measurements. Errors will be easily detectable since the construction document can be directly compared to a life-size print out directly on the construction site." It would be "just like following a map and driving towards a destination."

See a video of the robot at work, after the break...

VIDEO: In Boston, Reclaiming the Craft of Brick

Our friends at Mecanoo have shared a fascinating mini-documentary exploring the complex brickwork on display in their latest project in Boston's Dudley Square, the Dudley Municipal Center (nearing completion).

Called "Boston Bricks with a Dutch Touch," this documentary features interviews with everyone involved in the project - from construction workers to architects - and focuses on the difficulty of using brick in this elaborate manner. Enjoy the video above and check out some fantastic images after the break.

Courtesy of MECANOO Courtesy of MECANOO Courtesy of MECANOO Courtesy of MECANOO

TERMES: A Robotic Swarm That Collectively Constructs Modular Structures

Termite mounds offer a fascinating architectural quandary: how is it possible that these towering structures (which include complex systems of openings, passages, large volumetric spaces, and even active ventilation systems and humidity regulation) are constructed with no centralised control or planning? The spatial complexity that these thousands of insects can collectively achieve has inspired a Harvard team to create TERMES, a project focused on programming an artificial robotic swarm to build modular structures.

Zahner Launches Software for Design and Fabrication

Zahner, one of the world's foremost fabricators of façades, have launched new software to assist in design, fabrication, costing and delivery. CloudWall, part of Zahner's ShopFloor platform, is a web based programme which provides an interface for users to design and fabricate curving facades in metal. It is a tool that uses Zahner's "factory floor like a massive rapid prototype machine".

AIA Focuses on Neighborhood and Community Growth for Q3/2013

The AIA just released its third quarter Design Trends Survey for 2013. Key findings have been made since the previous survey, specifically on neighborhood and community trends.