Pratt Institute Students Create Sinuous Screen Wall From Concrete Blocks

© Lawrence Blough via the Architect’s Newsaper

Students from the Pratt Institute have created a wall of concrete blockwork… but not like any you’ve seen before. Challenged by their tutors Lawrence Blough and Ezra Ardolino to produce something highly customized from something highly standardized – the 8-by-8-by-24-inch AAC brick – the students used Rhino software and a CNC miller to create a 96-block screen wall composed of 20 different block profiles. “The earlier stuff I’d done was trying to use as much off-the-shelf material as I could,” said Blough. “Here we decided to really push it, and to take on more of the ideas of mass customization.” Find out more about the project at the Architect’s Newspaper Fabrikator Blog.

AD Interviews: Benton Johnson / SOM

Inside the Wood Pavilion at this year’s AIA Convention, we had the chance to chat with Benton Johnson of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM) about SOM’s research on using wood for highrise buildings. Although wood is a sustainable and efficient material, it hasn’t entered the world of skyscraper construction yet. However, through their Timber Tower Research Project, SOM has come up with a structural system for skyscrapers that uses mass timber as the main structural material and consequently minimizes the building’s carbon footprint.

“Architects should focus on using wood for these types of structures because we do think of it as the way of the future. Energy and resources are just going to become more and more important going forward, and mass timber technology has no way to go but up,” Johnson explains.

Three Self-Healing Materials That Could Change the Future of Construction

The aggregate of this concrete contains bacterial spores that fill in any cracks in the material. Image © UCL, Institute of Making/Robert Eagle via flickr

Buildings, regrettably, don’t last forever. Until recently, the only way to increase a building’s lifespan was ongoing maintenance, which can be expensive, time-consuming and in the case of infrastructure such as bridges or roads, inconvenient. Beyond that, periodic replacement of the entire structure was an option, however this is clearly not a sustainable solution, especially considering the amount of CO2-releasing concrete used in modern construction.

But in the 21st century, another alternative is emerging. This article on CityLab uncovers three self-healing that could significantly extend the lifespan of a construction, including Erik Schlangen‘s asphalt that re-sets itself with a dose of induction heating, concrete developed at TU Delft (and elsewhere) that patches up cracks with the help of its living bacterial aggregate, and a recent discovery by MIT scientists that some metals have self-healing properties.

Read the article in full here, or carry on after the break for our own coverage of Erik Schlangen and TU Delft’s work in self-healing materials.

“Shell Lace Structure”: Tonkin Liu’s Nature-Inspired Structural Technique

Courtesy of Tonkin Liu

Continuing recent research trends in the ways can inspire new architectural methods and typologies, London-based architecture practice Tonkin Liu in collaboration with engineers at Arup, have developed a single-surface structural technique called Shell Lace Structure. The innovative technique takes advantage of advanced digital design, engineering analysis, and manufacturing tools. Read on to learn about their upcoming book and exhibition that reveals the process behind this nature-inspired material.

The Green Building Wars

The Clinton Presidential Center by Polshek Partnership and Hargreaves Associates received a rating of Two Green Globes from the . But would LEED have rated it the same? Image © Timothy Hursley

Originally published by Metropolis Magazine, this comprehensive analysis by sustainability expert Lance Hosey examines the current disputes within the green building industry, where market leader LEED currently finds competition from the Living Building Challenge, aiming for the “leading edge” of the market, and the Green Globes at the other end of the scale. Arguing for a more holistic understanding of what makes materials sustainable, Hosey examines the role that materials, and material industries such as the timber and chemical industries, can have in directing the aims and principles of these three rating systems – for better or for worse.

IaaC Students Develop Material System with Responsive Structural Joints

Courtesy of IaaC (Instituto de Aquitectura Avanzada de Catalunya), Ece Tankal, Efilena Baseta, Ramin Shambayati

Despite architecture’s continued evolution over the course of history, our use of structural materials has remained largely the same since the advent of modern building materials. This reality may be changing thanks to the development of new materials seeking the same kinds of adaptability often found in .

Adaptable architecture is becoming an increasingly viable endeavor as a result of recent developments in building technologies and materials. Masters research students Ece Tankal, Efilena Baseta and Ramin Shambayati at the Institute for Advanced Architecture of Catalonia were interested in “architecture of transition” and have developed a new material system that utilizes a thermally responsive polymer as structural joints with their project, “Translated Geometries.” Read on after the break to learn about how this new material system was developed and its potential for applications in architecture.

Complexity Via Simplicity: Urbana’s Parking Structure Facade

Asked to design an interactive facade for an existing parking structure at the new Eskenazi Hospital in Indianapolis, Urbana principle Rob Ley had a conundrum to deal with: “With Indianapolis’ really extreme weather patterns, we gave a lot of thought to: how can we make something that’s interactive but won’t be broken in a year?” he told the Architect’s Newspaper. “Unfortunately, the history of kinetic facades teaches us that that they can become a maintenance nightmare.”

His solution came from turning the question on its head – how could they design and fabricate a static facade that appears to change when the viewer moves? The resulting design appears highly complex, while in fact using aluminum fins bent at just three different angles. Find out more about the challenges of fabricating this facade, and inserting it into an existing structure, through the video above or at the Architect’s Newspaper Fabrikator blog.

Invisible Solar Harvesting Technology Becomes Reality

Solar power with a view: MSU doctoral student Yimu Zhao holds up a transparent luminescent solar concentrator module. Image © Yimu Zhao

Solar harvesting systems don’t need to be glaringly obvious. In fact, now they can even be invisible, thanks to researchers at Michigan State University (MSU) who have developed a transparent luminescent solar concentrator (LSC) that can be applied to windows or anything else with a clear surface.

LSC technology is nothing new, but the transparent aspect is. Previous attempts yielded inefficient results with brightly colored materials, and as researcher Richard Lunt, an assistant professor of chemical engineering and materials science at MSU, puts it, “No one wants to sit behind colored glass.” To learn how Lunt and the rest of the research team achieved transparency, keep reading after the break.

Dive Into ArchDaily Materials, Our Latest Tool

Dear Readers,

In December of last year, we announced the launch of our latest innovation: ArchDaily Materials, our new US product catalog.

Materials will make more useful for you. When you come to our site to browse our projects, and come across certain facades, lighting, or any other kind of detail you admire, Materials allows you to instantly access the makers of those architectural products, so you can incorporate them into your own projects. It’s Inspiration, Materialized.

We wanted to update you now and let you know how Materials has grown over the last five months. Since launching, we’ve added 31 categories that let you easily explore our 286 products. We’ve added a useful link from the product page to the project page – allowing you to see the material applied in all its glory. Following your feedback, we’ve even added construction details and specs to project pages. And we’ve partnered with some amazing manufacturers, including: Hunter Douglas, Equitone, Sherwin Williams, Alucobond, VMZinc, and Big Ass Fans.

Today, we’re happy to report 466,000 pageviews and counting! However, we know we’re still in the early stages yet. Take a moment to explore this inspirational resource by clicking on Materials at the top of the page (between Articles & Interviews), share it with your friends, and let us know how it can be more useful to you!

Sincerely,

The ArchDaily Team

Merging Bamboo & Concrete for the Emerging World

© Hannah Ahlblad

Developed by Hannah Ahlblad, a recent graduate of Wellesley College cross-registered at MIT’s School of Architecture + Planning, this article explores the potential of merging bamboo and concrete, harnessing the strengths of both materials to create a sustainable, durable and affordable material for use in developing countries. Hannah’s project was created in conclusion to the semester-long emergent materials elective taught by Professor John E. Fernández, Director of MIT’s Building Program.

In the rapidly developing economies of East Asia and Latin America, urban architecture often seeks to combine the local heritage with the prestige of Western contemporary form and practices. The materials used in urban areas of these growing cities follow the steel, glass, and concrete technology used elsewhere. Usually, emerging materials research looks at the structural properties and applications of materials under scientific development. Less consideration has been given to ancient building materials and their interaction with today’s engineering.

In Focus: The Architectural Applications of Zinc

The Roof Of - Custom Zinc Panels Fabricated By . Image © Peter Cook

Many times, the most innovative minds in architecture aren’t the architects themselves. They can come in the form of students, researchers and in this case – providers. We recently asked VMZINC, a company that provides material solutions for architects, a few questions about the use of zinc in architecture, the Stonehenge Visitors Center and more. 

AD: How do you create intricate shapes with zinc, as seen in the roof at the Stonehenge Visitors Center?

AD Classics: Thorncrown Chapel / E Fay Jones

© Flickr User Anirban Ray

Hidden in the middle of the forests surrounding Arkansas’ Ozark Mountains, Thorncrown Chapel rests amongst the oaks, pines and maples. The humble chapel, designed by Euine Fay Jones, is less than 35 years old – yet it’s on the U.S. Historic register, has been named one of the AIA’s top ten buildings of the 20th century, and has even been called the best American building since 1980.

The Solution To Pollution Is…The Rooftops?

Titanium Dioxide, used to keep Richard Meier’s Jubilee Church a crisp white, is now being looked at for pollution reduction at The University of California – Riverside. Image © Flickr User Rory MacLeod

The potential solution to smog and pollution may be hovering right over our heads, now that Students at the University of California – Riverside have designed a pollution reducing rooftop tile. According to their calculations, cladding one million rooftops with the tiles could remove 21 tons of nitrogen oxides — daily. Currently the Los Angeles area spits out 500 tons of nitrogen oxides a day, so the tiles are just one piece of the puzzle in reducing pollution – however the students are imagining their nitrogen-oxide-eating Titanium Dioxide compound in exterior paints, concrete and more. To see all the possibilities, read the full article here.

An Interview With Materials And Rapid Prototyping Specialist Krista Ninivaggi

Named the 2014 Designer of The Year by Contract Magazine, Krista Ninivaggi of K & Co is an expert in material innovation. In the following interview, Susan S. Szenasy of Metropolis Magazine asks the young designer about her design process, the materials she uses and more. 

Why 3D Printing Is Not As Sustainable As Its Defenders Say

Yacht designed by Zaha Hadid. Could 3D Printing “someday make Hadid-like forms so cheap to execute that they become mundane”?. Image © Unique Circle Yachts / Zaha Hadid Architects for Bloom+Voss Shipyards

 is a column, penned by Christopher Brenny and presented by ArchDaily Materials, which investigates the innovative applications of  in architecture.

On a purely aesthetic level, 3D printing holds great potential for buildings – all the possibilities of sculpted concrete without the bulky and expensive formwork. Taken to an extreme, it could someday make Hadid-like forms so cheap to execute that they become mundane (even for a non-architect) – maybe even causing the profession to re-evaluate what qualifies as high design. 

However, the more important advantage of 3D printing, what could spur its acceptance as a viable means of construction, is its supposed sustainability. Among its oft-cited advantages are a use of “green” and a reduction in construction waste. However, is 3D Printing really as sustainable as its defenders contend?  

Craftsmanship: Material Consciousness – Inside Indonesia’s Pavilion at Venice Biennale 2014

© Nico Saieh

At its debut at the Venice Architecture Biennale 2014, Indonesia offers a peek into the country’s past 100 years of architectural history in its pavilion: “Craftsmanship: Material Consciousness.” Moving images projected onto glass panels tell Indonesia’s story through the development of six materials, traced over time: wood, stone, brick, steel, concrete and . See images of the pavilion and enjoy a statement from the curators after the break.

DIY Materials Concept Wins Troldtekt Award 2014

Courtesy of Troldtekt A/S

115 entries from 39 countries! This was the number of architectural and design students who entered this year’s international concept competition – the 2014. The EUR 5,000 prize was won by three students from Escuela Superior de Arquitectura in Guadalajara (Mexico) for their project Troldtekt Raw. The jury was so impressed with the overall quality of the entries that three special prizes were also awarded, while a further four projects received honourable mentions.

Modern Masters Of Materiality: An Interview With Australia’s Tonkin Zulaikha Greer

The Cloudy Bay Winery in New Zealand conveys TZG’s love for timeless . Image © Mike Rolfe

With conscious material choices, Australian architects Tonkin Zulaikha Greer are known for their ability to integrate buildings into a city’s existing fabric. Michael Holt, editor of the Australian Design Review, caught up with partner Tim Greer, for the following interview, picking his brain on materiality, site, history and more. 

Since the practice’s inception in 1988, Tonkin Zulaikha Greer (TZG) has become expert in the reuse of existing built fabric and how best to reintroduce the past into the contemporary. Through projects such as the restoration of Hyde Park Barracks, the National Arboretum Canberra (featured in AR131–Present), Carriageworks, and Paddington Reservoir Gardens, certain design characteristics are notable: volumetric boxes, a shifting in typology, an overarching and encompassing ceiling or roof plane, a restricted material palette, and working-off the existing while simultaneously revealing the existing.