The ShiftxDesign Conference at Harvard, this February 19th, is an annual exploration of all things design. Launched in 2012, the conference is a collaborative effort between student groups at the Harvard Graduate School of Design, Harvard Business School, and Harvard College - and the only cross-school event of its kind. The event brings together creative thinkers, design luminaries, experts from a variety of backgrounds, and students to engage in and reinterpret the design process.
The New York Times has published an in-depth article entitled ‘How China Built iPhone City With Billions in Perks for Apple’s Partners’, revealing a treasure chest of public benefits for the world’s biggest iPhone factory in Zhengzhou, China. In a city of six million inhabitants in an impoverished region of China, the local government has contributed $1.5 billion to Foxconn, Apple’s supplier of iPhones. The money is used, in part, to improve local infrastructure, reduce Foxconn's export costs, and build housing for the factory’s 350,000-strong workforce (five times the number of people employed directly by Apple in the United States).
FAAB Architektura has designed a smog-fighting music academy on the site of a former military base in Cracow, Poland. In a city constantly tackling air pollution, FAAB has incorporated a 1300 square meter "Air Purifier" into their proposal, combating CO2 levels as effectively as 33,000 city trees. This system, however, is only one element in a music academy wholly integrated with its natural surroundings.
New typologies in architecture generally arise in two ways. The first is through a reevaluation of existing typologies that cater to familiar programs such as housing, schools, or healthcare. This is done in an effort to improve on the norm and to challenge accepted architectural notions, as seen for example, in the work of Moshe Safdie and OMA. The other is when an entirely new program, site condition, or client emerges and forces the invention of a new typology simply through their design requirements.
For his Master’s degree project at the University of Alcalá in Spain, Saúl Ajuria Fernández has envisioned the essential civic building of the future: the Urban Droneport. Located in what Ajuria has identified as a “disused urban vacuum” in Madrid, Spain, the Urban Droneport “allows and optimizes the transport of goods with Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems in urban areas” - in other words, drone-delivered packages.
Digitally modeling objects from real life has just become easier.
Tech innovation company InstruMMents has unveiled a new functionality to their 01 portable dimension scanner that allows you to capture the 3D curves of any surface. Logging in to the Pro App, users can then track, share and export the curves into key 3D formats, allowing you to quickly recreate any desired object in 3D.
Pneumatic Vacuum Elevators, LLC has created a series of air-powered, space-saving, “plug & play” elevators designed to be easily installed into home environments.
Ranging from a single-passenger to a three-passenger, wheelchair accessible model, the elevators—called Pneumatic Vacuum Elevators (PVE)—are self-supporting, and do not require equipment rooms or other additional spaces above or below the shaft. Similarly, the elevators are completely enclosed and are not built into the framework of the home around them, and thus it can easily be relocated.
Young tech team (Bar Smith, Hannah Teagle, and Tom Beckett) has launched a Kickstarter campaign for Maslow, a four-by-eight-foot at home CNC cutting machine made to assist construction efforts by cutting user-specified shapes out of wood or any other flat material. Designed to be affordable—at under $500—easy to use, inclusive, and powerful, the project aims to share designs digitally so that you can build on the work of others or create your own from scratch.
Based on the design of the hanging plotter, Maslow “uses gear-reduced DC motors with encoders and a closed-loop feedback system to achieve high accuracy and high torque.”
Saint-Gobain & Economic Times Smart Green Awards will honor those who have worked towards creating ecological, innovative development solutions towards building a sustainable tomorrow.
Today, Microsoft announced the latest in their Surface family of personal computers. Called the Surface Studio, the device is essentially a 28-inch touchscreen drawing board which the company is targeting specifically at creative professionals, potentially placing it at the top of many architects' wish lists.
The MIT School of Architecture’s Self-Assembly Lab has teamed up with Google to create Transformable Meeting Spaces, a project that utilizes woven structure research in wood and fiberglass pods that descend from the ceiling, transforming a large space into a smaller one. Designed as a small-scale intervention for reconfiguring open office plans—which “have been shown to decrease productivity due to noise and privacy challenges”—the pods require no electromechanical systems to function, but rather employ a flexible skeleton and counterweight to change shape.
This skeleton is composed of 36 fiberglass rods, which are woven together into a sort of textile or cylindrical braid. Thus, the structure behaves “like a Chinese finger trap: The circumference of the pod shrinks when it’s pulled, and expends when relaxed.”
US tech-giant Apple Inc. have revealed that they will consolidate their UK operations to "a new Apple campus" in London's Battersea, at the heart of a site formerly occupied by the derelict Grade II* Listed Battersea Power Station. The 42-acre complex, which is currently undergoing major redevelopment (and is soon to have a public square designed by BIG connecting to the Electric Boulevard development designed by Norman Foster and Frank Gehry), will provide a mix of commercial space and residential zones. According to the London Evening Standard, Apple will be relocating around 1,400 staff from eight sites around the British capital to the former power station, occupying all six floors of the restored building's extensive new office space. They will be the site's single largest single tenant.
During the last decade, the idea of a technological singularity has passed from science fiction to a plausible prediction of the proximate future. In its simplest terms, a technological singularity will take place when an artificial general intelligence (AGI), capable of modifying its own code, advances so rapidly that subsequent technological progress (and as a result history itself) become as unpredictable and unfathomable as what happens within a black hole. In the most radical vision, the ‘hard takeoff’, within hours or even minutes of artificial intelligence developing the capacity for recursive self-improvement, the intelligence advances so greatly that it fundamentally transforms life on Earth.
“Utopia”: the word was coined by Sir Thomas More in 1516 when he started questioning the possibility of a perfect world where society would suffer no wars or insecurities, a place where everyone would prosper and fulfill both individual and collective ambitions. Yet such a perfect society can only exist with the creation of perfect built infrastructure, which possibly explains why architects have often fantasized on megastructures and how to “order” this dreamed society.
Megastructures, as imagined after World War 2 by the CIAM international congress and Team 10, are now regularly revived with the intent to solve social issues on a mass scale. Notably, architecture students have shown a renewed interest for walking cities as first conceived by Ron Herron of Archigram in the 1960s, assuming that megastructures could solve major crises in remote areas. Just as ETSA Madrid student Manuel Dominguez developed a nomadic city to encourage reforestation in Spain for his 2013 thesis project, Woodbury University graduate Rana Ahmadi has recently designed a walking city that would destroy land mines on its way. But these utopian projects also involve a considerable amount of technology, raising the question of how megastructures and technology can work together to give societies a new beginning.
London-based design firm Caventou has designed a series of “stained glass” everyday objects that turn daylight into electricity, even indoors.
Integrated with solar cells, Current Table and Current Window are both independent, intelligent power sources that function normally as household items.
The notion of the "Primitive Hut" has been part of the architectural discourse for decades; indeed, history suggests that it provided the Ancient Greeks with direct inspiration for Doric Order. But how do you build a wattle and daub hut, or create tiled roof, or develop primitive underfloor heating—all from scratch—today?
Since 2015, Gramazio Kohler Research has been in the process of developing "Mesh Mould Metal," a project that studies the unification of concrete reinforcement and formwork into a single, robotically fabricated material system. The project is based on their first phase of research, Mesh Mould, which spanned from 2012 to 2014, and developed a robotic extrusion process for a polymer mesh.
Now, as a second phase, Mesh Mould Metal “focuses on the translation of the structurally weak polymer-based extrusion process into a fully load-bearing construction system” by replicating the process in metal. Specifically, the current research delves into the development of "a fully automated bending and welding process for meshes fabricated from 3-millimeter steel wire."
Thanks to a new robot named Hadrian X, we made soon be able to construct an entire brick house in just 2 days. Developed by the appropriately named Australian firm Fastbrick Robotics, the giant truck-mounted robot has the ability to lay up to 1,000 bricks an hour. Its innovation comes via the machine’s 30-meter telescopic boom, which allows the base to remain in a single position throughout the brick-laying process.
Deputy Mayor for Housing and Economic Development Alicia Glen and NYCEDC President Maria Torres-Springer have announced New York City’s first official approval of the Lowline project in Manhattan’s Lower East Side. As the first major step in making the project a reality, the approval will help to create the world’s first underground park, a community-oriented public and cultural space that will become both a local resource and an attraction for worldwide visitors.
Although the Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) did express interest in the space last fall, the Lowline team was awarded conditional use due its high community potential.