Conference: Facade Tectonics World Congress 2016

18:00 - 2 May, 2016
Conference: Facade Tectonics World Congress 2016, Facade Tectonics World Congress 2016
Facade Tectonics World Congress 2016

The Facade Tectonics Institute announces its 2016 Annual Conference and inaugural World Congress. The summit will include speaking and poster presentations, panel discussions, exhibitors and workshops addressing themes related to Design Processes, Historical Evolution, Facade Futures, and much more. 

The Inflatable Architecture of Plastique Fantastique

12:30 - 30 April, 2016

Plastique Fantastique's pneumatic structures were originally conceived in 1999 through necessity: "The fact that we used plastic was just due to the fact that we had no money," explains the firm's founder Marco Canevacci. "So, plastic was just the cheapest material we could imagine, and you can join parts very easily and you can create very simple architectures. By using a hot air blower, those architectures become warm places to stay." By using warm air to inflate the structures, their office became a landscape of heated pods in an otherwise cold space. However, through their continued experiments over almost two decades, Plastique Fantastique's pneumatic interventions have now come to make the case for an ephemeral, temporary, and whimsical architecture. Their work now continues a lineage started by the experimental utopian group Haus-Rucker-Co, whose own pneumatic structures of the 1960s were disposable, free-wheeling creations which both literally and metaphorically played with the boundaries of a world they saw as staid, rigid, and dull.

Last year, Plastique Fantastique was invited to the 180 Creative Camp held by Canal 180 in Abrantes, Portugal, where their giant, inhabitable Strawberry Ice Cream Cone took over a public place to provide a unique and fun spatial experience. To mark this event, Canal 180 produced a short film highlighting some key recent projects by the firm and documenting the construction of their latest work. Watch the video above, and read on to see more images of the installation in Abrantes.

© Miguel Oliveira and Bárbara Moreira © Miguel Oliveira and Bárbara Moreira © Miguel Oliveira and Bárbara Moreira © Miguel Oliveira and Bárbara Moreira +19

US Architecture School Bans Styrene as Model Making Material

14:00 - 20 April, 2016
US Architecture School Bans Styrene as Model Making Material, via Madeleine Underwood, Student Life
via Madeleine Underwood, Student Life

By next Fall, the architecture students of Washington University in St. Louis will no longer be allowed to use Styrene on their projects. The university's newspaper, Student Life reports that the commonly used white plastic material was deemed in 2014 by the National Research Council's National Toxicology Program as "reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen." Thus the Sam Fox School of Design is taking its own measures to protect their student's health. A number of other schools and cities have already banned Styrene since the NRC's ruling. 

Translucent Wood? Meet the New Material Developed by KTH

14:00 - 13 April, 2016
Translucent Wood? Meet the New Material Developed by KTH, © Peter Larsson / KTH
© Peter Larsson / KTH

A group of researchers from KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm has developed Optically Transparent Wood (TW), a new material that could greatly impact the way we develop our architectural projects. Published in the American Chemical Society's journal Biomacromolecules, the transparent timber is created through a process that removes the chemical lignin from a wood veneer, causing it to become very white. This white porous veneer is then impregnated with a transparent polymer, matching the optical properties of the individual cells and making the whole material translucent.

Kengo Kuma Uses Carbon Fiber Strands to Protect Building from Earthquakes

16:00 - 8 April, 2016
Kengo Kuma Uses Carbon Fiber Strands to Protect Building from Earthquakes, © Takumi Ota
© Takumi Ota

Japan-based Komatsu Seiten Fabric Laboratory has created a new thermoplastic carbon fiber composite called CABKOMA Strand Rod. The Strand Rod is a carbon fiber composite which is covered in both synthetic and inorganic fibers and finished with a thermoplastic resin. The material has been used on the exterior of Komatsu Seiten’s head office.

ETFE: The Rise of Architecture's Favorite Polymer

14:00 - 6 April, 2016
ETFE: The Rise of Architecture's Favorite Polymer, The Eden Project / Grimshaw. Image © flickr user timparkinson, Licensed under CC BY 2.0
The Eden Project / Grimshaw. Image © flickr user timparkinson, Licensed under CC BY 2.0

Until recently, the architecture world largely viewed plastic polymers as inferior building materials, handy for wipe-clean kitchen surfaces, but not practical in full-scale building applications. But with technological innovations driving material capabilities forward, polymers are now being taken seriously as a legitimate part of the architect’s pallet. One of the most widely-used of these materials is a fluorine-based plastic known as ETFE (Ethylene tetrafluoroethylene). Brought into the public consciousness thanks to its use on the facade of PTW ArchitectsWater Cube for the 2008 Beijing Olympics, architects are now realizing the film’s capabilities to express a new aesthetic and replace costlier transparent and translucent materials.

© flickr user manusascorner, Licensed under CC BY 2.0 SSE Hydro Arena / Foster + Partners. Image Courtesy of Figueras Anaheim Regional Transportation Intermodal Center / HOK. Image © John Linden Watercube National Swimming Centre / PTW Architects. Image © flickr user garrettziegler, Licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 +8

7 Futuristic Fabrications Leading Us Towards a Newer Architecture

12:00 - 26 March, 2016
7 Futuristic Fabrications Leading Us Towards a Newer Architecture

Swept up in an age of digitization and computing, architecture has been deeply affected in the past decade by what some critics are calling “The Third Industrial Revolution.” With questions of craft and ethics being heavily present in the current architectural discourse, projects taking advantage of these new technologies are often criticized for their frivolous or indulgent nature. On the other hand, there has been an emergence of work that exemplifies the most optimistic of this “Third Industrial Revolution” – an architecture that appropriates new technology and computation for the collective good of our cities and people.

We’ve collected 7 of these projects, ranging from exemplars of engineering to craft and artistry; projects that 80 years after Le Corbusier’s modernist handbook hint at a further horizon – towards a newer architecture.

SkyCool Systems Develops Technique to Cool Buildings Using the Coldness of Outer Space

14:00 - 23 March, 2016
SkyCool Systems Develops Technique to Cool Buildings Using the Coldness of Outer Space, via MIT Technology Review
via MIT Technology Review

Although many have come to question our unwavering devotion to hermetically sealed buildings, most construction budgets are still dominated by costs associated with HVAC and other quality of life standards. With some questioning the efficacy of such practices, and others taking fault with the costs, there is now immense incentive to create new technologies and techniques that could allow us to retain the benefits of such climate control without the environmental and monetary cost they currently carry.

Now a young company known as SkyCool Sytems, founded by Stanford University researcher Aaswath Raman, has developed a cooling method capable of ejecting excess heat out of the atmosphere in the form of infrared rays. Read on to find out how it works.

3 Materials With the Potential to Improve Traditional Concrete

14:00 - 18 March, 2016
3 Materials With the Potential to Improve Traditional Concrete, TAKTL's ultra-high-performance concrete panels on the Waikiki Business Plaza by MGA Architecture. Image Courtesy of TAKTL
TAKTL's ultra-high-performance concrete panels on the Waikiki Business Plaza by MGA Architecture. Image Courtesy of TAKTL

It's no secret that among the architecture profession's biggest sources of guilt is our reliance on concrete in a huge number of the buildings that we have a hand in creating. Architects are more likely than most to be aware of the environmental implications of the material, and yet we continue to use it at an alarming rate. But what alternatives are there in order to do our job? In an article for Forbes, Laurie Winkless runs down a list of three alternatives that stand a good chance of changing the face of concrete construction.

Will Architecture's Future be Held Together with Glue?

14:00 - 17 March, 2016
Will Architecture's Future be Held Together with Glue?, © Henrik Kam, courtesy of SFMOMA
© Henrik Kam, courtesy of SFMOMA

The most revolutionary material in architecture may be one we’re already quite familiar with: glue. In a recent article for New Scientist’s New Urbanist column, futurist Geoff Manaugh of BLDG BLOG argues that the typical building’s structural system may soon see an overhaul. Instead of steel held together with bolts and welds, petroleum-based composite materials and carbon fiber panels fixed in place with glue could serve as both a building’s structure and skin.

This Intricate Chair is Made Entirely from Fabric

19:00 - 9 March, 2016

Fabric is viewed as a material which is flat and two-dimensional and thus, until recent times, it has been used in architecture as a surface sheet. However the material has not been fully exploited.

Developed by four Masters students from the Bartlett School of Architecture in London, FaBrick is a prototype for creating sturdy structures out of textile-based materials. So far consisting of a stool made from a fabric impregnated with cement and a chair made of a felt composite, the project aims to develop a "technique of designing fabric to become the new brick, the new concrete in the invention of architecture." 

Anish Kapoor Now Owns the Rights to the World's Darkest Material

16:00 - 6 March, 2016
Anish Kapoor Now Owns the Rights to the World's Darkest Material, via Wikipedia
via Wikipedia

Anish Kapoor, a British-Indian sculptor, now owns the exclusive rights within the field of art to Vantablack, currently the world’s darkest material. Developed by a team of scientists at Surrey NanoSystems in 2014, Vantablack absorbs all light and creates a crease free abyss which is often compared to a black hole. Other artists, such as Christian Furr, had intended to use Vantablack in a series of paintings, but no longer can due to Kapoor’s monopolization. “All the best artists have had a thing for pure black — Turner, Manet, Goya,” he told Daily Mail. “This black is like dynamite in the art world. We should be able to use it. It isn’t right that it belongs to one man.”

This Modular Green Wall System Generates Electricity From Moss

13:15 - 24 February, 2016
This Modular Green Wall System Generates Electricity From Moss, © Elena Mitrofanova
© Elena Mitrofanova

IaaC Student Elena Mitrofanova, working alongside biochemist Paolo Bombelli has created a proposal for a facade system that utilizes the natural electricity-generating power of plants. Consisting of a series of hollow, modular clay "bricks" containing moss, the system takes advantage of new scientific advances in the emerging field of biophotovoltaics (BPV) which Mitrofanova says "would be cheaper to produce, self-repairing, self-replicating, biodegradable and much more sustainable" than standard photovoltaics.

© Elena Mitrofanova © Elena Mitrofanova © Elena Mitrofanova © Elena Mitrofanova +14

How The Andes House’s Ensamble Project Uses Hardboard to Create Workspaces

16:00 - 20 February, 2016
How The Andes House’s Ensamble Project Uses Hardboard to Create Workspaces, © Carlos Molina
© Carlos Molina

Hardboard is a wooden fiberboard that is produced by compression at high temperatures, making a smooth and uniform surface. It is known for being highly flexible and very resistant to humidity. In spite of these qualities, the product has been pigeonholed for specific uses -- rear panels, bases, packaging -- losing visibility and importance in the world of architecture and design.

Hoping to change how the material is viewed by designers and architects, Arauco invited The Andes House to develop an attractive and innovative solution that would allow the product's advantages to really stand out. With experience designing products using very basic raw materials such as wicker and pine, the team at The Andes House created Ensamble, the project that we're presenting to you now.

© Carlos Molina © Carlos Molina © Carlos Molina © Carlos Molina +21

CLT and the Future of Wood: The Timber Revolution Comes to Industrial Architecture

15:00 - 17 February, 2016
CLT and the Future of Wood: The Timber Revolution Comes to Industrial Architecture, Courtesy of Sauter Timber
Courtesy of Sauter Timber

For the past several years, there’s been increasing talk of a renaissance in timber construction. Although we are predisposed to thinking of wood as a component limited to the classic balloon-frame house, new technologies have generated alternative materials which look like and are created from wood, but are stronger and more versatile than their more traditional cousins. While there are a number of different products on the market, including Glulam and Laminated Veneer Lumber (LVL), the material that seems to hold the most promise for changing construction is Cross Laminated Timber (CLT).

The engineered material is created by stacking and gluing smaller pieces of structural lumber, each layer perpendicular to the one below it, to create wooden panels with a number of advantages to other commercial construction materials. According to Reinhard Sauter, owner of Sauter Timber, “CLT has excellent seismic values, it is extremely durable, competitive in price to steel and concrete, lighter and thinner than the latter, and with reduced construction times” - all of which made it an obvious material candidate for the company’s award-winning construction facility in Rockwood, Tennessee, completed in 2014. The structure, which was built with a Glulam frame and CLT wall and roof panels, offers an insight into how these materials can be effectively utilized in future commercial and industrial structures.

Courtesy of Sauter Timber Courtesy of Sauter Timber Courtesy of Sauter Timber Courtesy of Sauter Timber +14

The Guardian's Rowan Moore Names 10 Best Concrete Buildings

06:00 - 11 February, 2016
The Guardian's Rowan Moore Names 10 Best Concrete Buildings

“Concrete has the ability to be primitive and technological, massive and levitating, to combine the properties of steel with those of mud,” says Rowan Moore in his list of The 10 best concrete buildings created for The Guardian. Through examples spanning three continents, Moore unites old standbys with unexpected wonders, all of which show the varied possibilities inherent in mixing water, aggregate, and cement. In a list that incorporates examples from Classical times to the present, Moore establishes concrete’s unique ability to adapt to different times, styles, applications, and treatments.

Examples by Le Corbusier, Álvaro Siza, Lina Bo Bardi, and Marcel Breuer demonstrate that concrete is anything but workaday or utilitarian. Moore’s list affirms that a material simultaneously strong and light, durable, sustainable, and fire-resistant, can scarcely be considered anything short of miraculous. Of course, ten buildings can only provide an abridged version of concrete’s possibilities, and Moore cheekily apologizes for some of the obvious omissions. Check out the full list here.

How Rammed Earth Walls Were Given a New Lease of Life in Vernacular Himalayan Buildings

15:30 - 10 February, 2016
Courtesy of Archide
Courtesy of Archide

Located high in the Himalayan Mountains, the sparsely populated region of Ladakh is one of the more remote places on Earth. At over 3500 meters above sea level, the region includes terrain consisting of steep cliffs and wide valleys, and an extreme climate to match: temperatures often reach +30 degrees celsius in the summer months and drop to -30 degrees celsius in the winter. Severe weather patterns such as these typically require durable construction materials and technologies - yet with the region’s difficult-to-reach location and a construction season lasting only four to six months, importing materials becomes a costly, if not impossible task. Luckily, with help from Czech architecture firm Archide, residents were able to find that the best material for the job was one found right outside their doors: rammed earth.

Courtesy of Archide Courtesy of Archide Courtesy of Archide Courtesy of Archide +41

How to Build a House Using Wooden Pallets

16:00 - 6 February, 2016

DIY wooden pallet creations are an increasingly popular trend, with projects ranging from building pieces of furniture to even making an outdoor pool. In their latest how-to, Interesting Engineering brings the DIY trend to a much larger scale with a video showing how to build a house using wooden pallets. Watch the video above to learn how to make a wooden pallet house and check out some tips from the video after the break.