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Best Practices: Animated Vegetation

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The release of Enscape 2.8 includes material and asset-enhancing features such as animated vegetation.

Gem State: Living with Nature in Idaho's Mountains and Valleys

Idaho's nickname is "The Gem State" for its abundance of natural resources and scenic areas, from steep canyons and valleys to snow-capped mountains. It's no surprise that the state's architecture draws from this context, especially for remote housing projects. Reinterpreting building methods, materials, and spatial relationships, architects have designed a series of incredible homes across Idaho that are redefining how to live in nature.

© Aaron Leitz© Art Grice© Andrew Pogue© Gabe Border+ 14

What Are Refractory Bricks and What Are They For?

Ranging from yellow, to gray, to traditional red and orange, bricks are ubiquitous in many of our cities and widely used in construction. Briefly, the manufacturing process of traditional bricks involves molding clay and firing it in ovens, facilitating the creation of solid blocks, perforated blocks, cobogós, tiles, and other shapes. Ceramic bricks are inexpensive; easy to find; boast strong resistance, thermal inertia, and finish; and do not require such specialized labor for construction. But if the installation is done near sources of high heat, the common brick will end up cracking and breaking, making refractory bricks more suitable. But what does that mean?

Reiulf Ramstad Arkitekter Wins Competition to Design Norway's Polar Exploration Museum Newest Extension

The FRAM Museum will take on a new extension dedicated to polar exploration and environmental education. Designed by Reiulf Ramstad Arkitekter, the winning proposal of the invited architectural competition, Framtid, or Future is centered on the idea that “architecture exemplifies how we care for our environment”.

Courtesy of Reiulf Ramstad ArkitekterCourtesy of Reiulf Ramstad ArkitekterCourtesy of Reiulf Ramstad ArkitekterCourtesy of Reiulf Ramstad Arkitekter+ 11

Strelka KB Announces Five Teams to Reimagine Saratov City Center in Russia

Strelka KB has announced five teams selected for the international competition to integrate development of 5 sites in Saratov, Russia. A total of 67 applications were submitted from 24 countries, and the jury reviewed all the submitted applications to select participants for the second stage. The participants needed to propose a framework of planning, programming, landscaping and transport solutions for the project sites across Saratov City Center.

Courtesy of Strelka KBCourtesy of Strelka KBCourtesy of Strelka KBCourtesy of Strelka KB+ 8

Bamboo Formwork and Exposed Concrete in Architectural Projects

House for Trees / Vo Trong Nghia Architects. Image © Hiroyuki Oki
House for Trees / Vo Trong Nghia Architects. Image © Hiroyuki Oki

While concrete is without a doubt the world's go-to building material thanks to its durability, malleability, and ability to withstand a wide range of climates, it is also the principal source of CO2 emissions within the realm of construction. To combat this and reduce their creations' carbon footprint, many architects have begun experimenting and innovating in a bid to optimize concrete's technical qualities while diminishing its impact on the environment. Among these efforts, there are several projects that have explored the possibility of replacing traditional frameworks with more sustainable materials like bamboo, a resource that grows in abundance throughout many regions of the world and, along with having minimal environmental impact, renders high quality textured detailing on a variety of architectural surfaces.

Report: How Do Architects and Industry Professionals Specify Materials and Products?

This past June we published a survey called "How do Architects and Industry Professionals Specify Materials and Products”. The objective was to better understand architects’ behaviors and needs during the specification stage of their design processes.

More Than a PR Campaign—Diversity and Inclusion Through Action in Architecture Firms

Every company across the country is talking about “diversity” and “inclusion”—but what actions are actually being taken to address the issues? In May, following the death of George Floyd and the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement, conversations were had, statements issued, and boxes checked. But achieving diversity and inclusion will involve addressing long-term, systemic issues that cannot be solved with a black square on Instagram or a carefully crafted statement from a PR department.

The first step toward diversity and inclusion is recognizing that talking about it is not enough, and the path to real change is going to be a process.

Mecanoo Explores MLK Memorial Library Design in New Documentary

Dutch design practice Mecanoo has released a new documentary exploring the modernization of Washington DC’s Martin Luther King, Jr central library. Called "A Legacy of Mies and King", the documentary explores both architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe's vision in the sixties, as well as the recent effort to create a modern library that reflects a focus on people while celebrating the exchange of knowledge, ideas and culture.

3D Printing for Residential is Market-Ready: Germany's First Building is Under Construction

The first 3D printed residential building in Germany, built by PERI GmbH, and designed by MENSE-KORTE ingenieure+architekten is undergoing construction in Beckum, North Rhine-Westphalia. The two-story printed detached house with approx. 80 sqm of living space per floor is using a system put into practice in Germany for the first time. In fact, the construction technique has come through all of the regulatory approval processes over the last few weeks and months.

Pavilions in Cities: 10 Structures that Foster Human Interactions

© Nick Zukauskas© Åke Eson LindmanCourtesy of AirMesh PavilionCourtesy of Gentiana Pallaska+ 27

As dwellers of big cities, we tend to be dragged into a very fast-paced lifestyle. Surrounded by monumental buildings and infrastructure, we can easily lose sight of key spaces that connect us with our neighborhood and provide us with rare moments of peace and enjoyment. Appropriation of the environment we inhabit becomes an uncommon circumstance.

In cities where public spaces are sometimes overlooked or misused, the need for human-scale structures is fundamental. To foster civic participation, recreation, socialization, and overall, making the city more livable and enjoyable for its citizens, relatively small landmarks in the public realm generates opportunities for users to interact with the surrounding space in various ways. In order to create these discoveries, one common and easy resource used has been the creation of simple pavilions or installations, seizing the attention of passersby, on their own scale. 

EcoResponsive Environments Wins RIBA Competition to Envision Runcorn's Future in the U.K.

Multi-disciplinary design practice EcoResponsive Environments has won the RIBA competition for the ‘Vision of Future Living’ in Runcorn, England. Designed for SOG’s Heath Business and Technical Park, the proposal aims to help attract interest from global investors and reimagine what the site's future might hold. The competition for the redevelopment of The Heath asked architects to consider how we will live, work and play in the future.

Exploring The New Vernacular That Will Emerge as a Response to Climate Change

Since its installation in the late 1990s, a large clock in New York City’s Union Square has been counting up to 24 hours in each day with the number of hours, minutes, seconds, and milliseconds on display. However, the digital screen was recently repurposed as a Climate Clock and now projects the amount of time the world has left to take large-scale action on climate change- and the alarming truth, based on an IPCC Special Report on Global Warming counts down to only a little over seven years left until we reach the point of no return.

Wind Farm by Jordan Lutren. Image Courtesy of Arch Out LoudPlastic-Scape by Steven Zhang & Nikos Tsokas. Image Courtesy of Arch Out LoudSurface Ex-Tension by Jonathan Craig, Luis Arjona, Marco Nieto & Philip Elmore. Image Courtesy of Arch Out LoudWind Farm by Jordan Lutren. Image Courtesy of Arch Out Loud+ 10

The Nine-Step Architectural Beauty Detox Plan

This article was originally published on Common Edge.

In 1755, Francesco Algarotti, disgusted with what opera had become, wrote An Essay On The Opera in which he called for its simplification. For Algarotti, opera had degenerated into a vehicle for soloists to grandstand with endless improvisations overshadowing the music and ignoring the drama. Even the drama had lost the plot with mythological characters in extraordinary and complex situations. Algarotti saw drama as being the essence of opera and wanted the emphasis restored to it, with everything else secondary. Christoph Willibald Gluck and his librettist, Ranieri de’ Calzabigi, were the first to make it work with their 1762 opera Orfeo ed Euridice. It had characters and drama people could relate to, music that could be remembered and lyrics and a plot that could be understood. It’s regarded as the first truly modern opera.

RIBA's Latest Student Survey Highlights High Levels of Mental Health Struggles post COVID-19 

A recent study conducted by the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) examined how architecture students have been affected by the pandemic. Examining 398 architecture students, the COVID-19 survey found that these young adults are under significant stress and are concerned about their future career. In fact, the results highlight that 58% of students are struggling with mental health and almost half are concerned about job prospects.

Chicago Architecture Biennial Announces 2021 Edition, Entitled “The Available City”, and Under Artistic Direction of David Brown

Reflecting on the current global situation, Chicago Architecture Biennial (CAB) has reinvented its 2021 edition, in order to generate conversations about the “intersection of architecture and design and such critical issues as health, sustainability, equity, and racial justice”. The Biennial has also announced the appointment of David Brown, designer, researcher, and educator, based at the School of Architecture at the University of Illinois at Chicago, as the Artistic Director of the fourth edition, entitled The Available City.

The Urban Art of Social Distancing

Being in confinement has produced unconventional means of exploring architectural spaces and installations. Instead of putting everything on hold until life goes back to normal, designers and curators found inspiration from practices like performance arts and theatre, breaking down the walls between the subject and viewers but from a distance.

Ashley Bigham and Erik Herrmann of Outpost Office reimagined the theme of "mobility" by creating 1:1 scale drawings on the Ragdale campus using GPS-controlled field marking robots. Their unique urban installation, which addressed modern-day concerns such as public spaces, how we are engaging with them, and physicality, won first place in the 2020 Ragdale Ring competition.

© Erik Herrmann© Erik Herrmann© Erik HerrmannPhotogrammetry. Image © Erik Herrmann+ 6

Incorporating Fire in External Projects: Tips and Examples for Fireplaces

Whidbey Island Farm Retreat / mwworks. Image © Kevin ScottFireplace for Children / Haugen/Zohar Arkitekter. Image © Jason Havneraas & Grethe FredriksenCarraig Ridge Fireplace / Young Projects. Image © Bent René SynnevågVC House / Dumay Arquitectos. Image © Ignacio Infante Cobo+ 17

Yuval Noah Harari points out that, around 300 thousand years ago, Homo erectus, Neanderthals, and ancestors of Homo sapiens already used fire daily. According to the author of the international bestseller “Sapiens,” fire created the first significant gap between man and other animals. "By domesticating fire, humans gained control of an obedient and potentially limitless force." Some scholars even believe that there is a direct relationship between the advent of the habit of cooking food (possibly due to the domestication of fire) and the shortening of the intestinal tract and growth of the human brain, which allowed human beings to develop and create everything we now have.

Design Miami Unveils Architectural Drawings by 90 International Architects Including Steven Holl, David Chipperfield and David Adjaye

Design Miami’s latest initiative in partnership with Architects for Beirut, has gathered a collection of 100+ original architectural drawings and artworks donated by 90+ renowned architects from around the world. With proceeds going to aid on-the-ground restoration efforts in Beirut, works offered include exclusive pieces from Zaha Hadid, David Chipperfield, Toyo Ito, Steven Holl, Tatiana Bilbao, Adjaye Associates, and Renzo Piano, to name a few.

David Chipperfield_The Weston Bridge Royal Academy of Arts - DCA London. Image Courtesy of Design Miami/Architects for BeirutToyo Ito_Sketch - Yuma Ota. Image Courtesy of Design Miami/Architects for BeirutTatiana Bilbao - Social Topography 1. Image Courtesy of Design Miami/Architects for BeirutWael Al Awar_Hayy Creative Hub- Section 1. Image Courtesy of Design Miami/Architects for Beirut+ 18

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