Laurent Troost is a Belgian architect with a vast history of projects in the Netherlands, Spain, and Dubai. He made the decision to move to Brazil in 2008, settling in the city of Manaus. In this region filled with challenges and inspiration, Troost developed a unique architectural practice by combining his experiences in designing luxury buildings abroad with structures in the heart of the Amazon. His work gained international recognition and has been honored with multiple awards. On September 4th, 2023, he was in Florianópolis for a lecture at the NCD Summit, where we had the opportunity to discuss his work and his views on architecture and sustainability.
Brands and Materials Senior Editor. Architect and Master from Federal University of Santa Catarina (UFSC).
When an architect conceives the opening of a space, the primary objective is to create a frame that enhances the views, optimizes the entry of natural light, and makes the most of the illumination it provides. In this context, we often seek to maximize the proportion of glass, reducing the presence of frames and profiles to a minimum, thus expressing the growing desire for perfect integration between indoor and outdoor environments. To adequately meet this demand, architects and manufacturers are constantly searching for solutions that minimize the visual obstruction caused by structures, pushing the boundaries of what is technically and statically feasible toward minimalist window frames and profiles.
Copenhagen is a living testament to its architectural legacy, innovative urban development, and commitment to sustainability and liveability. The city inspires the whole world with its quality of urban life, made up of efficient and intelligent mobility systems, along with vibrant and interesting public and private spaces. It is in this context that the city has been awarded the title of World Capital of Architecture by UNESCO for 2023, and hosted the World Congress of the International Union of Architects. These milestones represent unique opportunities to highlight the crucial role of architecture and urban planning in building a sustainable future, establishing the city as a prominent international forum for discussing crucial issues related to the urban environment and the ongoing search for innovative solutions.
Visit Copenhagen has developed a series of four videos to explore the city's architectural wonders, guided by local architects. In the first one, which you can watch below, Danish architect Dan Stubbergaard –founder of Cobe– takes us on a captivating tour of Copenhagen, sharing his insights into what makes the city truly exceptional for its inhabitants.
Mass timber has emerged as a sustainable alternative to replace concrete components in construction, as the latter alone contributes to 8% of global CO2 emissions. With various examples across different scales and applications, the material has shown promise in revolutionizing the industry by enhancing efficiency, strength, and comfort. Even when dealing with highly standardized and efficient processes in the manufacturing of structural elements, there is always room for improvement and waste reduction. This is mainly because the traditional industrial process of cutting logs into parts can generate substantial waste.
In this context, A.I. Timber emerges as an innovative construction material designed to minimize waste by preserving the natural contours of trees. Instead of employing conventional methods that involve cutting individual logs into standardized boards, A.I. Timber ingeniously utilizes Artificial Intelligence to fit these logs together like pieces of a perfectly assembled puzzle. To gain further insight into this initiative and the future of this material, we spoke with Carlo Ratti and Mykola Murashko, who coordinated the project.
In the world of interior design and architecture, lighting has evolved from a mere functional necessity into a powerful tool for creating pleasant environments, accentuating design elements, and setting the mood for occupants. Embedded lighting systems have been a game-changer in this regard, especially when combined with LED technology, offering countless possibilities to transform spaces. LED strips, in particular, have revolutionized lighting by providing energy efficiency, longevity, versatility, and customization that was previously challenging with traditional lamp-based lighting. They have fundamentally changed how we illuminate homes, offices, and businesses, ushering in a new era in lighting technology.
Wood is a material with unique characteristics –such as its natural warmth and tactile quality– capable of providing a sense of comfort and well-being, evoking emotions and memories, and creating a cozy atmosphere in interior spaces. Its versatility allows it to be used in building structures, for solar protection, or as interior cladding, and it can be molded, carved, and jointed to create a variety of forms, from simple to complex designs. When properly maintained and kept in ideal conditions, wood can last for hundreds of years. However, as a natural material, it is susceptible to degradation over time due to biological, chemical and environmental factors, which can result in rotting, cracking, erosion and the loss of physical properties.
To mitigate this issue, there are preservation techniques that aim to improve the durability, stability, and resistance of wood to adverse factors, prolonging its life and performance. Among these techniques are treatments with chemical products, the application of pressure, and thermal modification.
Architects such as Alvar Aalto and Tadao Ando showcase the ability of natural light to shape architectural spaces. Aalto's projects employ extensive glass elements, carefully positioned windows and skylights, harnessing the ever-changing characteristics of daylight. Meanwhile, Ando's Church of Light serves as a striking example of how light can hold profound spiritual significance within a space. Its concrete facade features a symbolic cross-shaped opening, which beautifully and symbolically illuminates the interior, creating a unique spiritual ambiance. In addition to being an essential element that enhances interior aesthetics, natural light profoundly impacts the overall quality of life, promoting better well-being and productivity. By taking advantage of the power of natural light, spaces can reduce their dependence on artificial lighting, leading to greater energy efficiency and a more sustainable design approach.
Contrary to popular belief, Roman buildings were not as monochrome as previously thought. Recent discoveries indicate that statues and structures were, in fact, richly adorned with bright colors and exuberant decorations, following the tradition established by their Greek predecessors. This may be surprising, but it shows the presence of color in architecture much earlier than imagined. Color has always played a significant role in shaping the perception and experience of a space, and was prominent in the works of seminal architects such as Le Corbusier and Luis Barragán, for example. Another master of the use of color was Michael Wilford, who, together with his former partner James Stirling gained international recognition with notable public buildings, art centers, museums, and libraries located worldwide. The volumes present in Wilford's architecture are often remembered for their careful use of color, which highlights certain elements and adds other dimensions to the structures.
The Monadnock Building in Chicago began construction in 1891 and is still in use today. The building features a somber facade without ornamentation and a colossal height - at the time - of 16 floors. It is considered the first skyscraper built in structural masonry, with ceramic bricks and a granite base. To support the entire load of the building, the structural walls on the ground floor are 1.8 meters thick, and at the top, 46 centimeters. One hundred and thirty years later, this construction system remains common and allows for the erection of taller buildings with much thinner walls, accomplishing even new architectural works economically and rationally. But what is structural masonry about, and how can designers use it in architectural projects? And for what kinds of buildings is this system most suitable?
In the past, glazed surfaces tended to be small and almost opaque; but this began to change throughout the years due to the growing trend of increasingly larger glass panes in construction. Accompanied by thinner frames, they dilute the boundaries between the inside and the outside, and have become ubiquitous in modern buildings. In fact, it is increasingly rare to find a contemporary work of architecture that does not include the remarkable presence of glass: this material is present in the most diverse architectural scales, and its transparency provides harmonious integration with the surroundings and generous natural light for buildings. Traditional systems with frames are still predominant, but frameless glass facades are gaining ground in specific architectural projects, as they create perfect connections between the glass and the structure of the building, resulting in a singular aesthetic with soft and harmonious transitions. By eliminating heavy frames, a project's aesthetics can be enhanced while also improving the quality of life inside.
The geological period we currently inhabit is known as the Anthropocene, defined by the substantial human impact on Earth's ecosystems and geology. In contrast, the Symbiocene, a term coined by Australian philosopher and environmentalist Glenn Albrecht, presents a vision of the future characterized by a positive and symbiotic relationship between humans and the natural world. In the Symbiocene era, humans actively collaborate with nature, acknowledging their interdependence with Earth's ecosystems and striving to regenerate and restore the natural environment, thus creating a more harmonious and sustainable world.
Architects and builders often opt for metal panels due to their exceptional qualities: durability, affordability, and versatility. These attributes hold immense value for construction professionals, who constantly seek cost-effective solutions. Moreover, when a product seamlessly merges desired aesthetics with optimal performance, it becomes a highly sought-after choice for a diverse range of projects.
Prominent surfaces play a fundamental role in creating memorable interiors. One example in architectural history is Mies van der Rohe's Barcelona Pavilion, recognized as a landmark of modernism. The marble claddings in the pavilion are iconic elements, symbolizing the architect's commitment to material quality, craftsmanship, and the creation of spaces that transcend time and inspire. With the aim of establishing an atmosphere of elegance, sophistication, and timelessness, connecting classical architecture with contemporary design through a shared material, onyx, travertine marble, and green marble are used in the claddings, transforming the wall surfaces into striking focal points that captivate visitors in a visually captivating experience.
Curved design has a timeless appeal that has captivated designers throughout history, transcending mere functionality and aesthetics in interior furnishings. Incorporating curves adds captivating visual appeal, infusing spaces with intrigue and a sense of harmonious flow. Furthermore, curved furniture has the ability to transform the spatial dynamics of an environment, introducing fluidity and softness into a world often dominated by rigid, linear forms. While curves are sometimes associated with an old-fashioned look, contemporary curvilinear furniture presents a fresh and modern approach, combining elements of softness, comfort, and simplicity.
Designed by architect Anthony Rio and his firm Agence Unité, the Château des Pères hotel project showcases the integration of innovative design and materials in the realm of hotel architecture. Taking inspiration from nature, it reimagines the traditional hotel room as a protective nest. This expansion of a historic hotel, nestled in a 12th-century mansion, features reception, restaurant, and event spaces. The new structure, reminiscent of a tree, gracefully extends with branches radiating from a central trunk. Within each bubble-like structure, guests can experience a sanctuary-like ambiance, offering both privacy and panoramic views of the surroundings, made possible by the generous ovoid windows that adorn each facade.