Audi Urban Future Award 2014: Transforming Urban Mobility Through “Data Donors”

© Audi Urban Future Iniative

Every two years Audi hosts the Audi Urban Future Award (AUFA), which challenges cities from different parts of the world to investigate future mobility trends and come up with innovative solutions. This year AUFA selected Mexico City, Boston, Berlin and Seoul to participate in the challenge and respond to the question: how will data shape mobility in the megacities of the future? These four groups were asked to create a vision for how their city could use data in a strategic way, taking into consideration innovative energy solutions, sustainability, feasibility and the potential for their ideas to be implemented in other cities.

Mexico City’s team took home first place with their “operative system for urban mobility,” which centered around a data platform that cities can use to structure their urban traffic planning. Their system was also based around the idea that citizens themselves can become “data donors” and use the system to make informed decisions on how they move about the city. The team was comprised of architect and urbanist , researcher and the city government’s experimental lab “Laboratorio para la Ciudad.”

Learn more about the winning project after the break.

Light Matters: 7 Ways Lighting Can Make Architecture More Sustainable

Sustainable lighting at HDI Gerling Headquarters. Architects: ingenhoven architects, www.ingenhovenarchitects.com. Lighting design: Tropp Lighting, www.tropp-lighting.com. Image © Hans Georg Esch, www.hgesch.de

Sustainable lighting design offers various well-being and environmental benefits in addition to economic advantages for clients and users. Although provides a free lighting source,  for most spaces the amount and time of is not sufficient and electrical lighting is necessary. A focus on sustainability becomes essential for minimizing consumption and improving the quality of life. Even though efficiency has significantly increased with LED technology, electrical lighting is still more widely used. Often the ambition for renovations or new applications goes along with a higher quantity of lighting instead of finding a better lighting quality with an adequate amount of .

Read on after the break for Light Matters’ 7 fundamental steps to achieve sustainable lighting.

Ohio State Researcher Team Invents Combined Solar Cell and Battery

Nanometer-sized rods of (larger image) cover the surface of a piece of titanium gauze (inset). The holes in the gauze are approximately 200 micrometers across, allowing air to enter the battery while the rods gather light. Image Courtesy of Yiying Wu, The Ohio State University

A new developed by researchers at Ohio State University has the potential to increase the efficiency and decrease the cost of generating and storing the sun’s energy. Led by professor of chemistry and biochemistry Yiying Wu, the team has created a combined solar cell and lithium storage battery with an efficiency of electron transfer between the two components of almost 100%, in a design which they believe will reduce costs by up to 25%.

“The state of the art is to use a solar panel to capture the light, and then use a cheap battery to store the energy,” Wu said. “We’ve integrated both functions into one device. Any time you can do that, you reduce cost.”

Read on after the break for more on the news

Architect Develops the World’s First Hoverboard

© Hendo via Kickstarter

Architects can do far more than design buildings. In fact, some of ’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.

Light Matters: Smart Flying Pixels Create a Floating Glow

YouTube Preview Image

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 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 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.

AD Interviews: Viktor Várkonyiv / Graphisoft

Building Information Modeling (BIM) has been an invaluable technological advancement for the architecture, engineering, and building management industries. But for people who don’t use it on a daily basis, can seem overwhelming.  This animated video breaks BIM down in layman’s terms explaining what it is, how it works and what the benefits of using it are.

Read on after the break to learn more about BIM and our interview with Viktor Várkonyi, the CFO of Graphisoft, one of the frontrunners in BIM development.

TEDxTalk: Contour Crafting: Automated Construction / Behrokh Khoshnevis

YouTube Preview Image

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 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.

IaaC Students Develop Material System with Responsive Structural Joints

Courtesy of IaaC (Instituto de Aquitectura Avanzada de Catalunya), Ece Tankal, Efilena Baseta, Ramin Shambayati

Despite architecture’s continued evolution over the course of , our use of structural has remained largely the same since the advent of modern building . This reality may be changing thanks to the development of new 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.

How New Elevator Technology Will Allow Our Cities to Grow Even Taller

KONE UltraRope Elevator Shaft. Image Courtesy of Kone/Splash/Corbis

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 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 Solution To Pollution Is…The Rooftops?

Titanium Dioxide, used to keep Richard Meier’s Jubilee Church a crisp white, is now being looked at for pollution reduction at The University of California – Riverside. Image © Flickr User Rory MacLeod

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.

2,800 iPod Nano Screens Make Up Cornell’s Discovery Wall

Consisting of over 2,800 iPod Nano screens, “The ” 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 Develops Self-Assembling, Easy-Bake Robots

MIT has developed a way to 3D print sheets of material that self-assemble when baked. With inspiration from Japanese , 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.

Timescanners: Digital Scanners Explain Historic Architecture’s Engineering Mysteries

Thanks to state of the art mobile laser scanners, scientists can now document the greatest architecture in , 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  was constructed and more!

VIDEO: “Bionic” Architecture That Moves When You Do

The Brooklyn based firm The Principals are known for their interactive design, industrial design and work. The video above hi-lights their latest “bionic” , 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 Hudson Yards – New Development, “Smart” Development

’s “Culture Shed” is awaiting approval, but other projects are already underway in the 28 Acre Hudson Yards development. Image Courtesy of and Rockwell Group

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?

The Steel Age Is Over. Has The Next Age Begun?

As of now, carbon fiber has only been applied to small scale applications, such as the Textile Room by P-A-T-T-E-R-N-S. Image © Monica Nouwens

Andrew Carnegie once said, “Aim for the highest.” He followed his own advice. The powerful 19th century 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 — was the new kid on the block. People were wary of , 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.

The Depreciating Value of Form in the Age of Digital Fabrication

The ICD / ITKE Research Pavilion 2011, demonstrating an example of a Voronoi diagram at work. Image © ICD / ITKE University of Stuttgart

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 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. 

Forget Flying Cars – Smart Cities Just Need Smart Citizens

Songdo In South Korea is a brand new city founded on smart city principles. Image Courtesy of Cisco

This article by Carlo Ratti originally appeared in The European titled “The Sense-able City“. Ratti outlines the driving forces behind the 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