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Architecture After the Event Horizon – Volume #49: Hello World!

04:00 - 22 September, 2016
Architecture After the Event Horizon – Volume #49: Hello World!, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter (WWoHP) at Universal theme parks in Florida. Image Courtesy of Volume Magazine
The Wizarding World of Harry Potter (WWoHP) at Universal theme parks in Florida. Image Courtesy of Volume Magazine

The following essay by Kazys Varnelis was first published by Volume Magazine in their 49th issue, Hello World! You can read the Editorial of this issue, Going Livehere.

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.

Imagining Megastructures: How Utopia Can Shape Our Understanding of Technology

10:45 - 11 August, 2016
Imagining Megastructures: How Utopia Can Shape Our Understanding of Technology

“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.

Metabolic Machine/ Rana Ahmadi. Image © Rana Ahmadi Metabolic Machine/ Rana Ahmadi. Image © Rana Ahmadi Very Large Structure/ Manuel Dominguez. Image © Manuel Dominguez / Zuloark Very Large Structure/ Manuel Dominguez. Image © Manuel Dominguez / Zuloark +25

These Everyday Household Items Convert Light Into Energy

08:00 - 7 August, 2016
These Everyday Household Items Convert Light Into Energy, Courtesy of Caventou
Courtesy of Caventou

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.

Courtesy of Caventou Courtesy of Caventou Courtesy of Caventou Courtesy of Caventou +20

Watch: How to Build a Primitive Hut

04:00 - 4 August, 2016
Watch: How to Build a Primitive Hut, via Primitive Technology
via Primitive Technology

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?

Amazing Robotically Fabricated Mesh Revolutionizes How Concrete is Formed and Reinforced

08:00 - 2 August, 2016

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."

Courtesy of Gramazio Kohler Research Courtesy of Gramazio Kohler Research Courtesy of Gramazio Kohler Research Courtesy of Gramazio Kohler Research +12

This Brick-Laying Robot Can Construct an Entire House in Just 2 Days

12:40 - 28 July, 2016

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.

NYC Lowline Receives First Official City Approval

08:00 - 21 July, 2016
NYC Lowline Receives First Official City Approval, Courtesy of NYCEDC
Courtesy of NYCEDC

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.

Courtesy of NYCEDC Courtesy of NYCEDC Courtesy of NYCEDC Courtesy of NYCEDC +15

OSU Chemists Discover New Blue Pigment that Could Help Keep Buildings Cool

08:00 - 16 July, 2016
OSU Chemists Discover New Blue Pigment that Could Help Keep Buildings Cool, Mas Subramanian. Image Courtesy of Oregon State University
Mas Subramanian. Image Courtesy of Oregon State University

After discovering a vibrant new pigment of blue by accident, chemists at Oregon State University have brought the compound to market in the form of a paint that looks promising to architectural sustainability. 

While experimenting with materials to study applications for electronics in 2009, OSU chemist Mas Subramanian and his team mixed black manganese oxide with other chemicals and heated them to 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit. Little did they know, one of their samples would turn into a brilliant blue color.

Enter The Hyperloop One Global Challenge

07:00 - 5 July, 2016
Enter The Hyperloop One Global Challenge

The Hyperloop One Global Challenge is a competition which invites teams anywhere on Earth to put forward a comprehensive commercial, transport, economic, and policy case for their cities, regions, or countries to be considered to host the first hyperloop networks. The Hyperloop One Global Challenge is not an engineering competition: we bring the technology, you tell us how it should be used in your location.

New Autodesk System Streamlines 3D Printing of Large, Complex Objects

08:00 - 20 June, 2016

A team of engineers at Autodesk have been pushing the limitations of conventional 3D printing -- not by redesigning the machines themselves, but by creating a network to harness their collective power. Autodesk's "Project Escher" is a new printing system that utilizes the power of several 3D printers at once to fabricate complex parts in unison, reports FastCoDesign. The new system can increase production speed by up to 90%. 

With Recent Innovations, Where Will Elevators Take Us Next?

09:30 - 27 May, 2016
With Recent Innovations, Where Will Elevators Take Us Next?

Many technological advancements have changed the way we design in the past 150 years, but perhaps none has had a greater impact than the invention of the passenger elevator. Prior to Elisha Otis’ design for the elevator safety brake in 1853, buildings rarely reached 7 stories. Since then, buildings have only been growing taller and taller. In 2009, the world’s tallest building, the Burj Khalifa, maxed out at 163 floors (serviced by Otis elevators). Though a century and half separates those milestones, in that time elevator technology has actually changed relatively little - until recently.

Call for Entries: Laka Competition ‘16—Architecture that Reacts

21:41 - 3 May, 2016
Call for Entries: Laka Competition ‘16—Architecture that Reacts, Laka Competition: Architecture that Reacts '16
Laka Competition: Architecture that Reacts '16

Laka Architektura invites designers from around the world to submit their ideas of architecture that reacts. That means architecture which is able to respond and adjust dynamically to the current needs and circumstances. These circumstances are often unpredictable, but their consequences can be crucial. The architecture that reacts is the architecture that lives as a living organism, since it responds to the external stimuli and it develops because of it—to react is to live.

Civilization in Perspective: Capturing the World From Above

04:00 - 20 April, 2016
Civilization in Perspective: Capturing the World From Above, Forbidden City, Beijing, China. Image Courtesy of Daily Overview. © Satellite images 2016, DigitalGlobe, Inc
Forbidden City, Beijing, China. Image Courtesy of Daily Overview. © Satellite images 2016, DigitalGlobe, Inc

As recently as a century ago the idea of viewing the world from above was little more than a fantasy: the airplane was still in its infancy, with rocketry and satellites still decades into the future. Those who could not take to the air had no recourse but drawing in order to represent their world from an aerial perspective. This limitation is difficult to imagine today when access to plan photography is never further than the nearest Internet connection. Anyone with a smartphone has, in essence, the entire world in their pocket.

Viral Voices V: Architecture in Motion

12:15 - 4 April, 2016
Viral Voices V: Architecture in Motion

The panel will explore architecture through media in motion. It will look at how the field has evolved in the social media age, through the introduction of various technologies such as film and virtual reality, and business models, such as crowdsourcing. Viral Voices V will look at architecture as the intersection of environment, technology, and design, and how it will influence the new careers of tomorrow.

Will Your Building Withstand the Onslaught of the Technium?

09:30 - 25 March, 2016
Will Your Building Withstand the Onslaught of the Technium?, Spain and Portugal seen from space. Image © Flickr user NASA Goddard Space Flight Center licensed under CC BY 2.0
Spain and Portugal seen from space. Image © Flickr user NASA Goddard Space Flight Center licensed under CC BY 2.0

The Technium is the sphere of visible technology and intangible organizations that form what we think of as modern culture.
—Kevin Kelly, What Technology Wants

The Technium is ubiquitous; like air it could be invisible. Fortunately, raging torrents that affect every person on earth are hard to ignore. Let’s look into one of the hearts of the Technium, that organ we call architecture.

You Are in the Technium Now

An ecosystem is a system of inter-dependent organisms and conditions. Ecosystems evolve. The current system can only exist because of past systems, each a stepping stone for new levels of action, each creating new sets of conditions, niches for life in its many forms.

But of course that’s what architecture does: it creates new conditions for life and culture, as does science, education, art and technology. Our culture and technology is evolving, enabled and built upon current and past developments. Kevin Kelly uses the word Technium to describe this complex stratum of evolving interdependencies and capacities. The Technium is evolving and growing fast. Our buildings must also evolve if they are to nurture our current and future cultures.

DISTRIBUTE! HACK 2016

07:40 - 25 March, 2016
DISTRIBUTE! HACK 2016

Time Inc, NBBJ, and PowerToFly have partnered to host a global hackathon in Seattle, New York, and London. Teams will compete to invent the future of the distributed workplace; building products to encourage collaboration, connection, and culture flow. Prizes will include in-kind tech donation and an installation of the winning work.

The Shape of the Future City: A Conversation with Carlo Ratti and Natalie Jeremijenko

18:28 - 15 March, 2016
The Shape of the Future City: A Conversation with Carlo Ratti and Natalie Jeremijenko

The advancement of contemporary technology is changing the way we study the world around us. The way we describe and understand cities is being radically transformed, along with the tools we use to envision and impact their physical form.

These new technologies allow us to understand the built environment differently. The city is no longer a static collection of built objects, but can instead be understood as a series of social, environmental, and informational networks. Can we this new knowledge to positively impact the city of the future? Can these technologies allow us to rectify the mistakes of the past? What new possibilities exist within their creative use?

"Array of Things" is A Ray of Hope for Big-Data-Based Urban Design

10:30 - 3 March, 2016
"Array of Things" is A Ray of Hope for Big-Data-Based Urban Design, © Iwan Baan
© Iwan Baan

For a number of years now, Smart Cities and Big Data have been heralded as the future of urban design, taking advantage of our connected, technological world to make informed decisions on urban design and policy. But how can we make sure that we're collecting the best data? In this story, originally published on Autodesk's Redshift publication as "'Array' of Possibilities: Chicago’s New Wireless Sensor Networks to Create an Urban Internet of Things," Matt Alderton looks at a new initiative in Chicago to collect and publish data in a more comprehensive way than ever before.

If it hasn’t already, your daily routine will soon undergo a massive makeover.

For starters, when your alarm clock goes off, it will tell your coffeemaker to start brewing your morning joe. Then, when you’re on the way to work, your car will detect heavy traffic and send a text message to your boss, letting her know you’ll be late. When you arrive, you’ll print out the agenda for today’s staff meeting, at which point your printer will check how much ink it has left and automatically order its own replacement cartridges.

At lunch, you’ll think about dinner and use your smartphone to start the roast that’s waiting in your slow cooker at home. And when you come home a few hours later, your house will know you’re near, automatically turning on the lights, the heat, and the TV—channel changed to the evening news—prior to your arrival. It will be marvelous, and you’ll owe it all to the Internet of Things (IoT).