New Construction Robot Lays Bricks 3 Times as Fast as Human Workers

08:00 - 7 January, 2016

A new construction worker has been lending high-efficiency help to job sites, laying bricks at almost three times the speed of a human worker. SAM (short for Semi-Automated Mason) is a robotic bricklayer that handles the repetitive tasks of basic brick laying, MIT Technology Review reports. While SAM handles picking up bricks, applying mortar and placing them at designated locations, its human partner handles worksite setup, laying bricks in specific areas (e.g. corners) and improving the aesthetic quality of the masonry.

Watershed Materials Hopes to Make Cement-Free Concrete Blocks a Reality

18:30 - 26 August, 2015
Watershed Materials Hopes to Make Cement-Free Concrete Blocks a Reality, A design by Dorman Associates using Watershed Blocks. Image © SkyHawk Photography - Brian Haux
A design by Dorman Associates using Watershed Blocks. Image © SkyHawk Photography - Brian Haux

Concrete blocks. Ever since manufacturers developed techniques to make them cheaper than traditional clay-fired bricks, concrete blocks have been one of our most ubiquitous construction materials. However, this ubiquity comes at a price: worldwide, the production of concrete accounts for around 5% of all man-made carbon dioxide emissions, and concrete blocks (as opposed to in-situ concrete or concrete panels) contributes a significant portion of these emissions.

To curb these runaway carbon emissions, a California-based company called Watershed Materials is developing alternatives to the traditional concrete block which uses less cement, dramatically reducing the amount of carbon dioxide produced; they even have a product in the works which they hope will offer a widely applicable concrete block alternative which uses no cement at all.

Sustainable private residence by Arkin Tilt Architects. Image © Ed Caldwell A design using Watershed Blocks by Atelier Hsu. Image © Mark Luthringer A design using Watershed Blocks by Atelier Hsu. Image © Mark Luthringer A sustainable residence by Arkin Tilt Architects using Watershed Blocks. Image © Ed Caldwell +13

This New Brick by MIT-Researchers Uses Little Energy and Helps Deplete Landfills

11:30 - 15 July, 2015
Traditional Red Bricks. Image Courtesy of MIT Tata Center
Traditional Red Bricks. Image Courtesy of MIT Tata Center

India has one of the fastest growing populations in the world and to accommodate it, a better building material is needed. Currently over 200 billion of the country’s traditional clay fired bricks are manufactured every year, resulting in numerous pollution and environmental problems. To address these issues, a team from MIT –- composed of students Michael Laracy and Thomas Poinot, along with professors Elsa Olivetti, Hamlin Jennings and John Ochsendorf -- has developed Eco-BLAC bricks: an alternative to traditional bricks that reuses industrial waste and is low-cost and low energy. 

Digitized Stone: ZAarchitects Develop “Smart Masonry”

09:30 - 13 March, 2015
Digitized Stone: ZAarchitects Develop “Smart Masonry”, Courtesy of ZAarchitects
Courtesy of ZAarchitects

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 +11

How Can We Hold On To Heritage Skills?

00:00 - 30 June, 2014
How Can We Hold On To Heritage Skills?, © James Taylor-Foster
© James Taylor-Foster

In an age when 1:1 3D printed buildings are becoming ever more commonplace from the Netherlands to China, it's important to pause and assess the existing built fabric of our cities, towns and villages. If we want to maintain and preserve them whilst protecting the inherent craft imbued in their construction, the importance of nurturing and promoting these skills should be recognised.

In the UK, the Heritage Skills Hub (HSH) push to see "traditional building skills, conservation, restoration and responsible retrofit" included within all mainstream built environment courses. In a recent conversation with Cathie Clarke, CEO of the HSH, we discussed the obstacles faced by an organisation dedicated to conserving and teaching skills like stonemasonry, roof thatching, glass making, traditional brick construction to a new generation.

Bricks Grown From Bacteria

00:00 - 1 February, 2014
Bricks Grown From Bacteria, Courtesy of bioMason
Courtesy of bioMason

A unique biotechnology start-up company have developed a method of growing bricks from nothing more than bacteria and naturally abundant materials. Having recently won first place in the Cradle to Cradle Product Innovation ChallengebioMason has developed a method of growing materials by employing microorganisms. Arguing that the four traditional building materials - concrete, glass, steel and wood - both contain a significant level of embodied energy and heavily rely on limited natural resources, their answer is in high strength natural biological cements (such as coral) that can be used "without negative impacts to the surrounding environment."

Roth House / Debartolo Architects

12:50 - 24 August, 2011
© Debartolo Architects
© Debartolo Architects

The studio of Debartolo Architects is a unique architectural design firm in that they are passionately committed to architectural excellence parallel with their commitment to serving clients and creating relevant and functionally-tuned environments for people. Founded in 1996 as a collaboration of the father-son team, the firm is built on the rich history of Jack Debartolo Jr. FAIA’s 22-year partnership with Anderson DeBartolo Pan, Inc. Through creativity, innovation and careful listening, their team has become one of the leading studios in creating highly-custom, well-tuned built-environments that respond to their client, context, culture and community.

STAAB Residence / Chen + Suchart Studio

22:00 - 20 August, 2011
© www.chensuchartstudio.com
© www.chensuchartstudio.com

For the STAAB Residence designed by Chen + Suchart Studio the context for this site consists of larger homes on one-acre lots. Aesthetically, the neighboring houses’ architectural language is more often than not, associated with speculative developer trends and styles, rather than an integrated understanding of the site, the views, and the potential. As a result, the project required a strategy which would edit out the immediate context of this neighborhood while focusing on distant views of the McDowell Mountains to the north and the valley to the south and southwest. The project also sought to create a protected courtyard space for the backyard and pool area as an immediate focus for the lower level of the house in contrast to the second level taking advantage of the more distant views.

© www.chensuchartstudio.com © www.chensuchartstudio.com © www.chensuchartstudio.com © www.chensuchartstudio.com +21

AD Round Up: Brick Houses Part II

18:30 - 12 January, 2010

Great brick houses from Europe and Australia make  today’s Round Up. Don’t forget to check the first part of our brick houses selection!

ORDOS 100 #30: LTL Architects

14:00 - 26 March, 2009

This villa is located in plot ORDOS project.

Architects: LTL Architects Location: Ordos, Inner Mongolia, China Project Team: Marc Tsurumaki, Paul Lewis, David J. Lewis, Kate Snider, Deric Mizokami, Laura Cheung Design year: 2008 Construction year: 2009-2010 Curator: Ai Weiwei, Beijing, China Client: Jiang Yuan Water Engineering Ltd, Inner Mongolia, China Constructed Area: 1,000 sqm aprox

ORDOS 100 #28: F451 Arquitectura

13:00 - 19 March, 2009

This villa is located in plot ORDOS project.

Architects: F451 Arquitectura Location: Ordos, Inner Mongolia, China F451 Team: Santi Ibarra, Toni Montes, Lluis Ortega, Xavier Osarte & Esther Segura Engineering Consultant: AKT Landscape: Jerónimo Hagerman Design year: 2008 Construction year: 2009-2010 Curator: Ai Weiwei, Beijing, China Client: Jiang Yuan Water Engineering Ltd, Inner Mongolia, China Constructed Area: 1,000 sqm aprox

ORDOS 100 #27: Multiplicities

14:00 - 16 March, 2009

This villa is located in plot ORDOS project.

Architects: Multiplicities Location: Ordos, Inner Mongolia, China Project Team: Daniel Holguin, Issei Suma, Perla Pequeño, Joanna Park Sohn, Christopher Chan, Nicole Rodríguez, Masayuki Sono Consultants: Methus Srisuchart + Tatchapon Lertwirojkul / Jee Won Kim Architect / ID engineers Design year: 2008 Construction year: 2009-2010 Curator: Ai Weiwei, Beijing, China Client: Jiang Yuan Water Engineering Ltd, Inner Mongolia, China Constructed Area: 1,000 sqm aprox

ORDOS 100 #14: Encore Heureux + G Studio

16:30 - 29 January, 2009

Architects: Encore Hereux + G Studio Location: Ordos, Inner Mongolia, China Design year: 2008 Construction year: 2009 Curator: Ai Weiwei, Beijing, China Client: Jiang Yuan Water Engineering Ltd, Inner Mongolia, China Constructed Area: 1,000 sqm aprox

French architects Encore Heureux & G Studio didn’t send a text for their Ordos villa, but the renderings are quite expressive. Judge for yourself.

ORDOS 100 #5: HHF

16:00 - 29 December, 2008

This villa is located in plot ORDOS project.

Architects: HHF Architects Location: Ordos, Inner Mongolia, China Project Team: HERLACH HARTMANN FROMMENWILER with Nicole Baron, Daichi Takano, Kohsuke Uesugi and Christian Weyell Design year: 2008 Construction year: 2009 Curator: Ai Weiwei, Beijing, China Client: Jiang Yuan Water Engineering Ltd, Inner Mongolia, China Site Area: 1,521 sqm Constructed Area: 925 sqm

ORDOS 100 #1: Alejandro Aravena Architects

09:45 - 8 December, 2008

ORDOS 100 is a development  in Inner Mongolia that you might have heard of. It consist of one hundred 1000sqm villas designed by 100 hip architects in 100 days, selected by Herzog & de Meuron over a master plan developed and curated by Ai Wei Wei (FAKE Design).

If during modernism, architectural experimentation was practiced through large housing projects, we now find it in curated projects such at this, on countries with a raising -or at least before the crisis- economy.

The project was split into two-phases, of 28 and 72 houses respectively. In ArchDaily we are going to feature the projected villas each week, and hopefully we manage to document all We have contacted several offices already, but if you are part of ORDOS 100 and we haven´t got in touch with you, please use the contact form.

We start with the villa by Alejandro Aravena (Chile). No project description, but you can understand some of the concept design from the sketches.

This villa is located in plot ORDOS project.

Download Sketchup model for this villa here.