Santiago Calatrava’s Florida Polytechnic Building Awarded “Best in Steel Construction” by AISC

Last week, the American Institute of Steel Construction (AISC) presented its Innovation Design in Engineering and Architecture with Structural Steel Awards program. Recognizing exemplary work in steel for both its architectural and structural merits, the AISC awarded Santiago Calatrava‘s Innovation, Science, and Technology (IST) building at Florida Polytechnic University in Lakeland, Florida with the national award in the $15 million to $75 million category.

AD Materials Round Up: Wire Mesh

Cocoon / Camenzind Evolution. Image © Camenzind Evolution

Though it can sometimes be overlooked in favor of materials which are more decisively either transparent or opaque, wire mesh is a tremendously versatile material that can be used for anything from delicate screens to a rough industrial interior. Here, ArchDaily Materials presents five projects that use wire mesh to great effect: Camenzind Evolution’s “Coccoon” building which shrouds the entire facade in a silvery screen; the Ibiray House by Oreggioni Prieto, which uses a loose mesh to grow plants for seasonal shading; Melaten Car Park by KSG Architekten, which uses a mesh facade to create an “out of focus” effect; Nickl & Partner Architekten’s Renovation and Extension of the Hameln County Hospital, which uses motorized mesh screens to shade patient rooms; and finally the Croatian Pavilion for the 2010 Venice Biennale, with an interior space dramatically carved from a block of 32 tons of welded wire mesh.

Mexican Company Develops Wood Substitute from a Tequila Byproduct

A sample of the material. Image © Plastinova via phys.org

Searching for an alternative to costly and resource intensive , Mexican company Plastinova has developed a wood substitute from a byproduct of tequila and recycled which it claims is not only renewable, but also stronger than the materials that it hopes to replace.

Harvard’s Material Processes and Systems Group Investigates Structural Ceramics

© Martin Bechthold

With “Protoceramics,” the Material Processes and Systems Group at the Harvard Graduate School of Design (MaP+S) sought to investigate the architectural possibilities of a material that might often be overlooked: thin, large-format ceramic tiles designed to act as interior finishes or exterior cladding. Instead of accepting the tiles’ designation as a surface finish, the team investigated three ways to use them as a self-supporting structural component as part of their ongoing experiment to produce “novel material formations with a special interest in tectonic performance.” The three techniques employed focused on the acts of cutting, folding and bending.

Emerging Objects Creates “Bloom” Pavilion from 3D Printed Cement

© Matthew Millman Photography

Following on from other experiments in 3-D Printing including a proposal for a house printed from salt and an earthquake resistant column inspired by Incan masonry, the California-based Emerging Objects team has created Bloom, a pavilion constructed from 840 unique blocks 3-D printed from portland cement.

The 9-foot (2.7 meter) tall pavilion is cruciform in plan, morphing as it rises to become the same cruciform shape twisted by 45 degrees. On the facade of the pavilion, perforations are mapped onto the cement blocks to create a design inspired by traditional Thai flower patterns.

Synthesis Design + Architecture Utilizes Gradient 3-D Printing in “Durotaxis Chair”

© IMSTEPF Films

Los Angeles-based practice Synthesis Design + Architecture has created a 3-D printed chair which uses the latest gradient technology to apply different material properties to different parts of the chair. Originally asked by leading company Stratasys to design a piece that would not be possible without utilizing , chose to go one better, designing a chair that would not be possible without the Stratasys Objet 500 Connex3, which is capable of combining a range of material properties into a single print run.

Material Minds: Digital Ceramic Printing in MVRDV’s Glass Farm

© Persbureau van Eijndhoven

If you search the web for information on MVRDV’s Glass Farm, you’ll find plenty of people writing about the project’s 33-year history, and about its context in the small town of Schijndel. You’ll even find plenty of people theorizing on the nature of those glass walls, and the relationships between image and authenticity and between modern technology and modest tradition. But strangely, you’ll find almost no information on how the project made use of Digital Printing, a relatively new process which was able to handle the many colors, variable transparency and fine tolerances required to display an entire farmhouse facade across a thousand glass panels.

In this new installment of our Material Minds series, presented by ArchDaily Materials, we spoke to MVRDV‘s project leader on the Glass Farm Gijs Rikken, and to Niv Raz, an Architect at Dip-Tech – the company who produces the printers, ink, software and support required for the process.

This Plastic Bottle House Turns Trash into Affordable Housing in Nigeria

YouTube Preview Image

In the United States alone, more than 125 million bottles are discarded each day, 80 percent of which end up in a landfill. This waste could potentially be diverted and used to construct nearly 10,000, 1200-square-foot homes (taking in consideration it takes an average of 14,000 bottles to build a home that size). Many believe this process could be a viable option for affordable housing and even help solve .

The idea isn’t new. In Nigeria, the plastic bottle house has proven to be a success, turning trash into an affordable (and beautiful) housing material. By packing plastic bottles with soil or sand, and then stacking and bounding them with mud and string, one can build an earthquake-proof home that is 18 times stronger than regular bricks. Watch the video about to learn more.

Arup and GXN Innovation’s Biocomposite Facade Wins JEC Innovation Award

© lichtzeit.com

Arup and GXN Innovation have been awarded with the JEC Innovation Award 2015 in the construction category for their development of the world’s first self-supporting biocomposite facade panel. Developed as part of the €7.7 million EU-funded BioBuild program, the design reduces the embodied energy of facade systems by 50% compared to traditional systems with no extra cost in construction.

The 4-by-2.3 meter panel is made from flax fabric and bio-derived resin. Intended primarily for commercial offices, the glazing unit features a parametrically-derived faceted design, and comes prefabricated ready for installation. The panel is also designed to be easy to disassemble, making it simple to recycle at the end of its life.

Marble Quarrying Looks Even More Awesome Than You Imagined

In this video from NOWNESS, an excerpt from Yuri Ancarani’s documentary “Il Capo” (The Chief), the filmmaker captures the mesmerizing business of extraction in the hills of Northwest Italy. The prized delicacy of the Carrara stone’s surface is juxtaposed against the dramatic size and weight of the blocks they are removing, which eventually fall with an earth-shattering thud. Similarly the rugged power of the excavators is in marked contrast to the precise, understated gestures of the chief himself, who directs his workers with a complex series of predetermined hand signals.

“Marble quarries are places so unbelievable and striking, they almost feel like they are big theaters or sets,” explains Yuri Ancarani. “I was so taken by the chief, watching him work. How he can move gigantic marble blocks using enormous excavators, but his own movements are light, precise and determined.”

How Aluminum Composite Materials Have Evolved To Meet Strict Building Standards

Rush University Medical Center Hospital by Perkins + Will Chicago. Image © Robert R. Gigliotti

Recently, national and international building codes have challenged the construction market with design-oriented goals of and energy efficiency. The increasing demand for high performance, energy-efficient buildings has to the evolution of building enclosure designs that incorporate durability, longevity, and thermal and weather protection, and architects and building owners are now required to meet stringent energy codes, resulting in a systems approach to designing the building envelope components. As a result, fire protection and life safety issues have significantly affected the development of the fire codes, becoming an integral part of recent International Building Code (IBC) updates. A lot is now dependent on the correct usage of materials and systems, especially when it comes to the facade of a building and aluminum composite materials (ACM).

Choi+Shine Architects Introduces the BIT Light, a Magnetic Modular Lighting System

Developed by Choi+Shine Architects, the BIT Light is a magnetic modular system that offers endless configuration possibilities which can be arranged, deconstructed and rearranged in seconds. The system’s main component is the “BIT”, a linear element comprised of an LED light source in a translucent polycarbonate tube that provides both protection and structural support. At each end of the BIT are conductor pads which join magnetically to the small nickel connecting elements, offering infinite possibilities for arrangement either as a flat wall-mounted lighting element, a suspended configuration, or even as a self-supporting three-dimensional lighting structure.

Wood Design & Building Magazine Announces Winners of its 2014 Wood Awards

Aspen Art Museum (Aspen, CO) Shigeru Ban Architects. Image © Michael Moran/OTTO

Wood Design and Building Magazine has announced the winners of its 2014 Wood Awards. Run in partnership with the Canadian Wood Council, this year the included for the first time an international category in addition to the North America . With 166 submissions, the 24 awarded projects were selected by a jury consisting of Larry McFarland (Principle, McFarland Marceau Architects), Brigitte Shim (Principle, Shim-Sutcliffe Architects) and Keith Boswell (Technical Partner, SOM).

“The Design Awards showcases exceptional buildings that not only display the unique qualities of , but also serve to inspire other designers who may not initially think of as the material of choice,” said Theresa Rogers, Editor of Design & Building magazine. “The calibre of projects submitted displayed a mature sense of design that either paid homage to older building techniques or completely reinvented the conventional way of thinking about building envelope and design,” added Etienne Lalonde, the Canadian Council’s Vice-President of Market Development.

See the full awards list after the break.

AD Round Up: Classics in Brick

Colònia Güell / Antoni Gaudí. Image © Samuel Ludwig

As one of the most ubiquitous forms of construction, it can sometimes be easy to overlook the humble brick. However, this prosaic building method can also be one of the most versatile available to architects, thanks to the experimentation of countless architects who, for centuries, have worked to create new forms of expression with the simple material. In this round up, we celebrate architects who, with their architectural classics, have expanded the possibilities of brick craft: Antoni Gaudí‘s fantastical vaulting at Colònia Güell and Alvar Aalto‘s experimental brick patterning at his house in Muuratsalo; the powerful brick piers of Kevin Roche and John Dinkeloo‘s Knights of Columbus Building and the Catalan vaults of Porro, Garatti and Gattardi’s National Arts School of Cuba; and finally, what brick round up would be complete without the brick-whisperer himself - Louis Kahn and his all-brick fortress for the Indian Institute of Management.

IaaC Students Develop a Passive Cooling System from Hydrogel and Ceramic

Courtesy of Institute for Advanced Architecture of Catalonia

Students at the Digital Matter Intelligent Constructions studio at Barcelona‘s Institute for Advanced Architecture of Catalonia have created a composite facade material of clay and hydrogel, which is capable of cooling building interiors by up to 6 degrees centigrade. Entitled Hydroceramic, the material utilizes the ability of hydrogel to absorb up to 500 times its own weight in water to create a building system that “becomes a living thing as part of nature and not outside of it.”

Read on after the break for more on how Hydroceramic works.

“Why Are There Not Skyscrapers with a 100-Foot Curtain Wall of Art Glass?”

© Flickr CC user Aidan McRae Thomson

Most contemporary architects probably don’t spend too long thinking about stained in their everyday practice – and for the “art ” industry, that’s becoming a big problem. In a fascinating article for the Wall Street Journal, Timothy W Martin carefully examines an industry that has been in decline for decades, ever since glass designer Kenneth von Roenn warned them in a 1970s conference speech that it was “time to jump ship” and diversify from their work in religious buildings.

New Research Proves that Iron Was an Important Medieval Building Material

At Beauvais Cathedral, iron ties that were thought to have been added centuries after were instead dated to the early 13th century. Image © Flickr CC user James Mitchell

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.

How Simple Earth Blocks Could Revolutionize Construction for the African Island of Pemba

Local block maker Ali Cedric making blocks for sale in Pujini, Pemba Island. Image © Craig Norris

Pemba, a small Tanzanian island off of Africa‘s Eastern coast, is undergoing something of a construction boom. With half of the population aged under 30 and a culture in which a man must build a house before he can get married, a wave of new informal housing is sweeping the island. Historically, construction methods used by the islanders have been problematic: traditional wattle & daub construction typically survives for just 5-7 years; its replacement, bricks made of coral, not only require large amounts of energy to extract but have a devastating effect on the environment; and modern cement bricks most be imported at high costs.

Sensing an opportunity to help the islanders at a critical time in their development, Canadian NGO Community Forests International is promoting a solution that combines the economy and of wattle & daub with the durability of masonry: Interlocking Stabilized Compressed Earth Blocks (ISCEBs). Find out how this simple technology can help the island community after the break.