Professor Alan Short of the University of Cambridge has published a book advocating for the revival of 19th-century architectural ideas to address the crippling energy use of modern skyscrapers. The Recovery of Natural Environments in Architecture proposes an end to the architectural fetish for glass, steel, and air conditioning, instead drawing inspiration from forgotten techniques in naturally ventilated buildings of the 1800s. The book is a culmination of 30 years’ research and design by Prof. Short and his colleagues at the University of Cambridge.
London-based firm Tonkin Liu has released images of its competition-winning Trade Centre in Zhengzhou, China. The Cradle Towers of Zhengzhou will comprise of five mixed-use towers swooping out of a ring-shaped podium. Inspired by the nearby Songshan mountainscape, the scheme aims to celebrate the city’s origins as it rockets into a high-tech future.
Van Dongen–Kuschuch Architects and Planners has released images for its ‘House of Delft’ mixed-use hub in the Netherlands. Located beside Delft Central Train Station, the scheme will act as a gateway to both the historic city center and the renowned University of Technology. The architectural intent behind the proposal is to celebrate the artistic, scientific and innovative achievements which came from the city throughout its history. As visitors step off the train, it will be both an introduction to the city, and an indicator of what it has to offer.
Superthin, flexible glass sounds like something out of a fantasy world – but in fact, it’s something many of us already use everyday as screens for our smartphones and watches. In this video from the Science Channel’s How It’s Made, the intricate process for creating this material, produced by glass manufacturer Schott, is revealed. Watch as the components of the glass are carefully measured out and blended before being melted and reformed into ultrathin sheets.
A building’s materiality is what our bodies make direct contact with; the cold metal handle, the warm wooden wall, and the hard glass window would all create an entirely different atmosphere if they were, say, a hard glass handle, a cold metal wall and a warm wooden window (which with KTH’s new translucent wood, is not as absurd as it might sound). Materiality is of just as much importance as form, function and location—or rather, inseparable from all three.
Here we’ve compiled a selection of 16 materials that should be part of the design vocabulary of all architects, ranging from the very familiar (such as concrete and steel) to materials which may be unknown for some of our readers, as well as links to comprehensive resources to learn more about many of them.
Known for his collaboration on the legendary Maison de Verre, French architect, and interior designer Pierre Chareau is a celebrated artist cited by Richard Rogers, Jean Nouvel, and more as a major influence on their work.
Completed in 1932, Maison de Verre—or “House of Glass”—has become a prime example of modern architecture, despite the fact that not many people have actually seen the hidden treasure, located on Paris’ Left Bank.
Although his work is currently viewed in high regard, Chareau had a tumultuous career, with large variances between his successes and his failures.
Drawing from a Cultured Magazine spotlight article on the designer, we have compiled a list of facts about Chareau’s life and career that showcase the rollercoaster of his success.
Continue reading for the 10 things you didn’t know about Pierre Chareau.
The physical properties of glass are invaluable and unequaled when it comes to the architect’s material palette. From the time of the cathedrals and the the brilliantly colored stained glass that served a functional and didactic purpose, to the modernist liberation of the floor plan and the exquisitely-framed horizontal views provided by ample windows, architects have turned to glass to achieve not only aesthetic but performative conditions in their projects.
Today, Architects face an increasing array of choices in specifying and designing with glass for building facades, as glass manufacturers propose a greater variety of colors, textures and patterns than ever before. A wider range of coatings and treatments has also been developed, allowing for a finer selection of glass panes with a combination of light transmittance, reflectance and absorption to meet the needs of outstanding architectural projects. These options affect the aesthetics and energy performance of the glass, and therefore of the overall building.
Thanks to advanced calculation tools, energy performance can now be anticipated accurately, but the graphic representation of glass is still a challenge, and yet a crucial need for architects.
Even as modernism promoted the transparency of glass architecture, many within the movement were conscious of the monotony of large glass facades, with even Mies van der Rohe using elements such as his trademark mullions to break up his facades. But in the years since, countless uniform structural glazing skyscrapers have emerged and bored urban citizens. In response to this, unconventional reinterpretations of facades have gained interest.
Accompanied by the belief that light and brilliance could help in creating iconic architecture and a better human world, glass and metal have been innovatively transformed to create crystalline images. As a result, the locus of meaning in architecture has shifted from the internal space-form towards the external surface.
Found in places as diverse as the Zhangjiajie Grand Canyon, Willis Tower, and Tokyo Skytree, glass bottom observation decks have become the favorite engineering marvel of thrill seekers looking for a new perspective on the world. Now, the U.S. Bank Tower in downtown Los Angeles has upped the ante for adrenaline-spiking structures – affixing a glass side to the building’s facade. Spanning from a window on the 70th story to a terrace on the 69th, the 45-foot-long chute opened to the public on Saturday, providing those brave enough to ride it with unprecedented views of the city.
Discovered by archaeologists in civilizations as old as ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia, fritted glass is hardly a new technology. Yet thanks to its energy-saving abilities and the smooth, gradient aesthetic it produces, fritted glass has seen a rebirth in contemporary architecture.
Frit itself is a ceramic component that can be laid out into an assortment of patterns, most typically consisting of dots or lines. These patterns can then be silk-screened onto annealed glass using frit paint. Then, the glass is fired in a tempering furnace, which strengthens and improves the safety of the glass under thermal stress. The resulting product is glass of determined transparency that, when used in building facades, can reduce solar heat gain and even make buildings more visible and less deadly for birds.
Jyväskylä, a city whose status as the center of Finnish culture and academia during the nineteenth century earned it the nickname “the Athens of Finland,” awarded Alvar Aalto the contract to design a university campus worthy of the city’s cultural heritage in 1951. Built around the pre-existing facilities of Finland’s Athenaeum, the new university would be designed with great care to respect both its natural and institutional surroundings.
The city of Jyväskylä was by no means unfamiliar to Aalto; he had moved there as a young boy with his family in 1903 and returned to form his practice in the city after qualifying as an architect in Helsinki in 1923. He was well acquainted with Jyväskylä’s Teacher Seminary, which had been a bastion of the study of the Finnish language since 1863. Such an institution was eminently important in a country that had spent most of its history as part of either Sweden or Russia. As such, the teaching of Finnish was considered an integral part of the awakening of the fledgling country’s national identity.
The West Coast's tallest building, Los Angeles' US Bank Tower is going to be outfitted with a terrifying glass slide designed by engineering firm M.Ludvik & Co. Set to hang 1000-feet above the street, the project will be part of the building's Gensler-designed OUE Skyspace LA attraction - soon to be California's tallest open-air observation deck.
Grace Farms by SANAA perfectly illustrates the firm’s sinuous, elegant style, combining their understanding of glass and structure to create spaces so fluid that they’re hard to believe from just a photo. A new time lapse by Work Zone Cam shows the construction of this project in HD, capturing a period between September 2013 and October 2015. Work Zone Cam worked with Project Manager, Paratus Group, to document Grace Farms’ construction, including its central piece “The River”: a ribbon-like roof that blends seamlessly with the landscape. Watch the entire construction of the project in just 180 seconds after the break.
When it comes to scrutinizing architectural materials for their energy efficiency, one offender stands out above the rest: glass. Windows and curtain walls act as one of a building’s main outlets for heating and cooling losses, and as society advances into its more environmentally-conscious future, new, passive solutions will need to be developed to mitigate buildings’ energy footprints. In recent years, various smart glass technologies have been designed to automatically regulate light and heat based on environmental conditions. Yet their high price tags have prevented them from achieving widespread application. Now, a team of MIT researchers may have discovered an alternative to smart glass that could come at an affordable price.
One of the most popular tropes of Modernist architecture was the goal of dissolving the external boundaries of the home, connecting residents to nature through the use of large glass walls in order to "bring the outside in." Nowhere was this project more thoroughly realized than in Mies van der Rohe's 1930 Villa Tugendhat, where an entire side of the glass-walled living space could, if the user wished, be dropped through the floor and the house become open to the elements. Elegant though it was (especially in 1930), Mies' solution didn't catch on, limited by the fact that it required an electric motor and a basement below in which to store the disappeared facade.
These days, while countless houses incorporate glass walls that fold, slide, or swing open, few offer the bravura of Mies' design, choosing to move the glass off to the side rather than making it disappear entirely. This year though, window and door manufacturer Vitrocsa may have turned a corner in the provision of vanishing glass walls with its "Turnable" system.
In an era when both environmental comfort and sustainability are key concerns in architecture, the tendency to cover buildings entirely in glass is among the most criticized and controversial traits of contemporary architecture, as all-glass buildings often guzzle energy thanks to their demanding cooling and heating requirements. Over the years, a number of fixes for this problem have been attempted, including smart glass solutions that allow users to modify the transparency of the window. The problem with this solution, however, is that smart glass is unable to block infrared (heat) transmission without ruining the very thing that makes glass attractive in the first place: its transparency to visible light. That conundrum may soon be a thing of the past, though. As reported by Phys.org, a team of researchers at the Cockrell School of Engineering at The University of Texas at Austin have developed a new smart window technology that allows users to selectively control the transmission of light and heat to suit their requirements.
This (terrifying) 300-meter-long bridge is the first in China to be made of all glass. Suspended 180-meters above ground between two cliffs at Hunan's Shiniuzhai National Geological Park, the Haohan Qiao - Brave Men's Bridge - was originally meant to be wood, before being constructed with 24mm thick glass that is 25 times stronger than normal.
"The bridge we build will stand firm even if tourists are jumping on it," said a worker to China News Service. "The steel frame used to support and encase the glass bridge is also very strong and densely built, so even if a glass is broken, travelers won't fall through."
A lot of architects love glass. A lot of architects love curves too. The two can be combined, but in most cases this is a highly bespoke and expensive process, with individual sheets of glass being heated in a kiln over a mold created especially to fit the desired curve. Cheaper options are available though, and one common approach is to use smaller sections of flat glass - often a U-shaped channel section - angled to approximate a curve.
But this strategy also leads to a problem: as the desired curve gets tighter, the gaps between the glass segments get more and more apparent and less efficient as enclosure. To address this problem, German designer Holger Jahns has created "c--c," an update to standard U-shaped channel glass which can be fixed together at any angle and create any curve without gaps appearing between the panels.