Architects can do far more than design buildings. In fact, some of history’s most acclaimed innovators were not only architects, but also inventors. Leonardo da Vinci himself, the epitome of the Renaissance man, sketched buildings alongside ideas for flying machines. Buckminster Fuller was the ultimate futurist and invented the geodesic dome in addition to his Dymaxion Car, an automobile that was far ahead of its time. Now, an architect has developed “the world’s first hoverboard,” and the technology has far-reaching implications for not only transportation, but also buildings themselves. Read on after to break to learn more about what this technology could mean for the future.
Imagine luminaires that could fly and visualise new buildings or individually guide you through space. What would happen if you could even interact with these flying pixels? These concepts could be realised in the near future as the first prototypes and experiments are being introduced. Software-driven LED pixels combined with drone swarm technology provide extraordinary possibilities for inducing new forms of spatial experience. These luminous pixel clouds emerge as digital patterns, but at the same time they emanate a romantic quality with their unique star formations twinkling in the night sky. The first projects have shared a playful note, but laboratories such as MIT’s SENSEable City Lab, ARES Lab and Ars Electronica Futurelab have shown an intriguing future in urban design for guidance systems or envisioning real estate developments, as advances in battery technology and wireless control have opened new perspectives for a life with smart flying pixels.
Almost everything around us is made automatically: our shoes, our clothes, home appliances and cars – so why not buildings? Dr. Behrokh Khoshnevis, the Director of the Manufacturing Engineering Graduate Program at the University of Southern California, has set out to change that through the development of an automated construction process known as Contour Crafting. “Contour-crafting is basically scaling-up 3D printing to the scale of buildings. What we are hoping to generate is entire neighborhoods that are dignified at a fraction of the cost, at a fraction of the time, built far more safely and with architectural flexibility that would be unprecedented,” Khoshnevis says in this TedxTalk in Ojai, California.
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 nature.
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.
The sky is not always the limit when it comes to building vertically – rather, elevator technology is often the restricting factor when it comes to skyscraper height. With current technology, a single elevator can travel approximately 500m before the weight of the rope becomes unsupportable. This means that ascending a mile-high (1.6km) tower would require changing elevators up to 10 times. However, UltraRope, a recently unveiled technology by Finnish elevator manufacturer KONE, may change the heights of our cities. A new hoisting technology that will enable elevators to travel up to one kilometer, UltraRope doubles the distance that is currently possible.
In an article for The Guardian, “The new lift technology that will let cities soar far higher,” Rory Hyde looks at the current limitations of elevator technology, how its development over the years has shaped our cities and the impact that UltraRope could have skyscraper design. Read the whole piece, here.
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.
Consisting of over 2,800 iPod Nano screens, “The Discovery Wall” at Cornell’s Medical College in Manhattan was a 2.5 year long process in digital art, conceived by Squint/Opera and accomplished in collaboration with Hirsch & Mann. From a distance, the animated screen appears as a single, unified image. But take a closer look and every single screen has its own unique text. As a permanent piece, it shows the plausibility of digital art to integrate with the existing building fabric. Watch the video above and make sure to learn more about the creative process here.
MIT has developed a way to 3D print sheets of material that self-assemble when baked. With inspiration from Japanese origami, researchers have developed — among other objects — robots. Head researcher Daniela Rus is already looking for potential applications saying, ”I want a robot that will play with my cat.” Check out the full article at HNGN to learn more and watch a video of the assembly in action.
Thanks to state of the art mobile laser scanners, scientists can now document the greatest architecture in history, from The Pyramids to St. Paul’s Cathedral, as digital models with pinpoint accuracy. The digital representations take you inside, around and through the buildings, which means researchers can study and analyze sites without being in the field. The technology is already proving its worth – watch the trailer above to see how Petra was constructed and more!
The Brooklyn based firm The Principals are known for their interactive design, industrial design and installation work. The video above hi-lights their latest “bionic” installation, which actually responds and reacts to human movement thanks to myoelectric sensors that pick up voltage increases on the skin when a muscle contracts. To learn more head over to their website - and make sure to check out all of The Principals other installations featured on ArchDaily.
The largest private project New York City has seen in over 100 years may also be the smartest. In a recent article on Engadget, Joseph Volpe explores the resilience of high-tech ideas such as clean energy and power during Sandy-style storms. With construction on the platform started, the Culture Shed awaiting approval, and Thomas Heatherwick designing a 75-Million dollar art piece and park – the private project is making incredible headway. But with the technology rapidly evolving, how do investors know the technology won’t become obsolete before its even built?
Andrew Carnegie once said, “Aim for the highest.” He followed his own advice. The powerful 19th century steel magnate had the foresight to build a bridge spanning the Mississippi river, a total of 6442 feet. In 1874, the primary structural material was iron — steel was the new kid on the block. People were wary of steel, scared of it even. It was an unproven alloy.
Nevertheless, after the completion of Eads Bridge in St. Louis, Andrew Carnegie generated a publicity stunt to prove steel was in fact a viable building material. A popular superstition of the day stated that an elephant would not cross an unstable bridge. On opening day, a confident Carnegie, the people of St. Louis and a four-ton elephant proceeded to cross the bridge. The elephant was met on the other side with pompous fanfare. What ensued was the greatest vertical building boom in American history, with Chicago and New York pioneering the cause. That’s right people; you can thank an adrenaline-junkie elephant for changing American opinion on the safety of steel construction.
So if steel replaced iron – as iron replaced bronze and bronze, copper – what will replace steel? Carbon Fiber.
In this article, originally appearing on the Australian Design Review as “Tolerance and Customisation: a Question of Value“, Michael Parsons argues that the complex forms made possible by digital fabrication may soon be victims of their own popularity, losing their intrinsic value as they become more common and the skill required to make them decreases.
The idea of tolerance in architecture has become a popular point of discussion due to the recent mainstreaming of digital fabrication. The improvements in digital fabrication methods are allowing for two major advancements: firstly, the idea of reducing the tolerance required in construction to a minimum (and ultimately zero) and secondly, mass customisation as a physical reality. Digital fabrication has made the broad-brushstroke approach to fabrication tolerance obsolete and now allows for unique elements and tolerance specific to each element. The accuracy that digital fabrication affords the designer, allows for the creation of more complex forms with greater ease and control. So far, this has had great and far reaching implications for design.
Read on to find out how this ease of form-making could diminish the success of complex forms.
This article by Carlo Ratti originally appeared in The European titled “The Sense-able City“. Ratti outlines the driving forces behind the Smart Cities movement and explain why we may be best off focusing on retrofitting existing cities with new technologies rather than building new ones.
What was empty space just a few years ago is now becoming New Songdo in Korea, Masdar in the United Arab Emirates or PlanIT in Portugal — new “smart cities”, built from scratch, are sprouting across the planet and traditional actors like governments, urban planners and real estate developers, are, for the first time, working alongside large IT firms — the likes of IBM, Cisco, and Microsoft.
The resulting cities are based on the idea of becoming “living labs” for new technologies at the urban scale, blurring the boundary between bits and atoms, habitation and telemetry. If 20th century French architect Le Corbusier advanced the concept of the house as a “machine for living in”, these cities could be imagined as inhabitable microchips, or “computers in open air”.
Read on for more about the rise of Smart Cities
Autodesk has launched the Autodesk Foundation, an organization which will “invest in and support the most impactful nonprofit organizations using the power of design to help solve epic challenges.” In an effort to aid those tackling global issues such as “climate change, access to water, and healthcare,” the foundation will provide select design-oriented grantees with software, training and financial support.
Johnny Lee, a project leader in the Advanced Technology and Projects group at Google, wants our phones to experience the world more like we do: “we are physical beings that live in a 3D world, yet mobile devices today assume that the physical world ends at the boundaries of the screen”, he says – which is why his team has been working on Project Tango, a mobile phone which uses movement and depth sensors to build a 3D model of the space around it.
Project Tango brings a whole new dimension (the third one) to what we could potentially do with our phones: imagine creating a 30 second model to take away from a site visit, for example, or using augmented reality to show a design or an installation in situ, navigable in real time. Currently, Google is in the process of distributing 200 prototypes to app developers, who will hopefully help it realize this tremendous potential.
The social life of cities is complex. Where once the networks which operated within cities could be understood – to an extent – through their physical infrastructure, in the internet age much of the network that supports city life is hidden, existing only through intangible data.
Invisible Cities is an app which makes this network tangible, using geocoded data from Twitter and Instagram to morph the landscape, displaying where the most activity is occurring. These hills of activity can then be linked by lines representing keywords, showing underlying affinities between different geographical areas.