Bamboom: Elora Hardy’s TED Talk on Bamboo’s Exploding Popularity

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Perhaps the most surprising thing about bamboo - besides being an entirely natural, sustainable material with the tensile strength of that can grow up to 900 millimeters (3 feet) in just 24 hours – is that it’s not more widely recognized as a fantastic construction material. Like many traditional building materials, bamboo no longer has the architectural currency that it once did across Asia and the pacific, but the efforts of Elora Hardy may help put it back into the vernacular. Heading up Ibuku, a design firm that uses bamboo almost exclusively, Hardy’s recent TED Talk is an excellent run through of bamboo’s graces and virtues in construction, showing off sinuous private homes and handbuilt school buildings.

Watch These Italian Artisans Create Bubble-Wrap Inspired Glass

For Maya Lapp and Denis Perera, owners of the company Glass MaDe in the Italian town of Belluno, bubble wrap is just about the most everyday material they know. It is the utilitarian material they use to protect their products from damage – yet despite this, it still holds a certain amount of fascination, resulting in their latest project, “Fragile.” This video by Studio Meddle shows the making of the project, as the glassmaking duo create a mold of the bubble wrap, cast the glass and finally drape the resulting product over a wrinkled wire mesh to create an almost eery facsimile of the original, subverting our usual expectations of the familiar bubble pattern. Check out Studio Meddle’s Video above (make sure the captions are turned on), and see more images of the completed work after the break.

Material Minds: The Possibilities Of Ultra High Performance Concrete

Waikiki Business Plaza / MGA Architecture. Image Courtesy of TAKTL

Since the beginning of the Modernist era a century ago, concrete has been appreciated by architects for its strength, versatility and sculptural potential. For many countries, concrete played a key role in their recovery from the Second World War, and in their continued modernization during the second half of the 20th century. But in recent years – while it is still as widely-used as ever - concrete has fallen on something of an image problem, with criticisms of its environmental impact and its aesthetic appearance becoming commonplace.

That hasn’t stopped some companies continuing to innovate with concrete. Among these companies is TAKTL, a facade panel designer and manufacturer that works exclusively with (UHPC). To find out what UHPC can offer to architecture, ArchDaily spoke to TAKTL about the potential of this material, and the future of concrete construction.

AD Round-Up: 9 Projects That Make Creative Use Of Cor-Ten Steel

Dovecote Studio / Haworth Tompkins. Image © Philip Vile

One of the most interesting trends in architectural materials of recent years is the increase in use of weathering steel – more commonly referred to by its trademark name, Cor-Ten. Thought the material has been around for decades, first being used for architectural purposes in the Eero Saarinen-designed John Deere Headquarters in 1964, the material has seen a surge in popularity in the last decade or so, being used in everything from individual houses and tiny kiosks, to SHoP‘s design for the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, which used a staggering 12,000 weathering steel panels.

To celebrate this material we’ve rounded up nine of the most innovative and striking uses of weathering steel from recent years: Haworth Tompkins’ tiny Dovecote StudioFeilden Clegg Bradley Studios’ offices and student housing at Broadcasting Place; the perforated facade of IGC Tremp by Oikosvia Arquitectura; the rusted ribbons of Ron Arad’s Design Museum Holon; vertical striations on The Corten House by DMOA ArchitectenTony Hobba Architects’ Third Wave Kiosk and its corrugated Cor-Ten walls; striking patterned facades in Santiago’s Gabriela Mistral Cultural Center by Cristian Fernandez Arquitectos, Lateral Arquitectura & Diseño; weathered facades and louvers in Guillermo Hevia’s Ferreteria O´Higgins; and finally the folding garage-style doors of Origin Architect’s Refurbishment of the Offset Printing Factory.

11 Tips You Need To Know Before Building A Shipping Container Home

PV14 House / M Gooden Design. Image © Wade Griffith

One of the more niche trends in sustainable design of the past few years has been the re-use of shipping containers in order to create the structure of a building. Due to their convenient size, shipping containers are well-suited for use in houses and their appeal lies in their apparent simplicity: you get a room delivered in one piece, and you can stack them together to make multiple rooms or join them up to make larger rooms.

But of course, things are never so simple, and using shipping containers to make a house is still fraught with challenges – particularly as the idea is still relatively new, so there are few people with the expertise required to build one without a hitch. That’s why the folks over at Container Home Plans reached out to 23 experts from around the world - designers and owners who have overcome the challenges to build their own container houses – to ask them what they wish they’d known before taking on this challenge. Check out their 11 top tips after the break.

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 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 materials, Mexican company Plastinova has developed a wood substitute from a byproduct of tequila and recycled plastic 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 3-D printing to apply different material properties to different parts of the chair. Originally asked by leading 3-D printing company Stratasys to design a piece that would not be possible without utilizing 3-D printing, 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 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 Ceramic 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 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

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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 sustainability 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, protection and life safety issues have significantly affected the development of the 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 Wood Design Awards showcases exceptional wood buildings that not only display the unique qualities of wood, but also serve to inspire other designers who may not initially think of wood as the material of choice,” said Theresa Rogers, Editor of Wood 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 Wood Council’s Vice-President of Market Development.

See the full awards list after the break.