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Lilly Cao

External Editor at ArchDaily since 2019. Student at Columbia University.

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Is It Possible To Create Lightweight Bricks By Recycling Cigarette Butts?

Students at the School of Engineering, RMIT University recently published a study experimenting with a new form of waste management and recycling. As they note in their research, cigarette butts are the most commonly discarded single waste item in the world, with an estimated 5.7 trillion having been consumed around the globe in 2016. However, the materials in cigarette butts—particularly their cellulose acetate filters—can be extremely harmful to the environment due to poor biodegradability. The RMIT study builds on a previous research study by Mohajerani et. al (2016) that experimented with adding discarded cigarette butts to clay bricks for architectural use. In their research, the RMIT students found that such a measure would reduce the energy consumption of the brick production process and lower the thermal conductivity of the bricks, but that other issues including bacterial contamination would have to be addressed prior to successful implementation. Below, we explore this research in more detail, investigating its relevance to the architecture industry and imagining possible futures of application.

How Does Spot Work? The Robot That Compares Design to Reality at the Construction Site

In November of 2020, Foster + Partners announced a collaboration with the robotics design company Boston Dynamics. Together, the two have been testing Boston Dynamics’ robot dog, Spot, to help capture and monitor progress on construction sites. The robot boasts the dexterity to climb stairs, avoid obstacles, and traverse rough terrain, allowing it to monitor building sites and collect data quickly and easily. In this way, designers and contractors can remedy errors rapidly and at minimal cost, ensuring that projects progress according to their set timeframes and budgets. With manual data collection, errors might be noticed at a much slower rate and communication between contractors may suffer as well. Thus, Spot optimizes construction monitoring and on-site collaboration.

Adding Fresh Hanging Gardens to Residential Architecture

Greenery Curtain House / HGAA. Image © Duc NguyenSter House / DELUTION. Image Courtesy of Delution ArchitectCH House / ODDO architects. Image © Hoang Le PhotographyIH Residence / andramatin. Image © Mario Wibowo+ 28

Last month, we looked at the 20 most-visited residential projects featured on ArchDaily during 2020. Spanning four continents and 15 countries, the styles and designs of these projects varied widely, and covered a wide range of different climates, visual contexts, and client needs. However, we noticed a commonality among a select few projects located primarily in Vietnam and Indonesia: the prevalence of hanging gardens and vines. Below, we look into this trend in more detail, discussing how it is used within these specific projects and more generally.

Seamlessly Continuous: NEXXA, A New Door Handle by Zaha Hadid Design

A single, continuous line unbroken by handle rotation: such was the simple, yet difficult-to-execute design concept motivating Zaha Hadid Design’s new innovative door handle. The result is a beautifully molded sculptural yet ergonomic design, playfully balancing form with function.

Why is Building Maintenance Important?

For companies or leasers that own large buildings, building maintenance can seem daunting, costly, or even superfluous, particularly when building functions appear to be running smoothly. But proper and consistent building maintenance is imperative for a number of reasons. Buildings inherently function less effectively over time due to natural causes such as climate, daily occupant use, mechanical obsolescence, and more. When left unresolved, these issues can devalue user experiences, create dangerous and unhealthy environments, and even incur costs higher and more sudden than consistent building maintenance costs.

Why We Should Integrate Tactile Surfaces into Architecture

© zlikovec / Shutterstock© Sutthi Chuvichit / Shutterstock© Sutthi Chuvichit / Shutterstock© love pattern / Shutterstock+ 17

Accessibility is one of the most important considerations in architecture, ensuring that the built environment caters to people of all abilities. However, popular conceptions of what disability and accessibility look like remain limited, and often encompass only physically disabled people such as wheelchair users. Among architectural designers especially, it is common to visualize accessibility as adding ramps, wide corridors, and elevators. However, disability can take many different forms, some less visible than others; accordingly, accessibility in architecture means much more than accommodating just wheelchair users. For the visually impaired, incorporating specific tactile elements in architecture and urban design can vastly improve the navigability of a foreign space. In this article, we talk about tactile paving specifically, including its different forms, its history, and its means of implementation.

Why Should We Design Spaces with Furniture on Wheels?

© RuetempleCourtesy of People's Architecture Office© NirutBenjabanpot, Garrett Rowland© Tanja Milbourne+ 35

In a time where space grows more and more limited and people increasingly spend time at home, flexibility presents itself as an underutilized strategy of interior design. With flexible furniture, residents can optimize square footage and easily reshape configurations according to specific requirements and shifting needs. Below, we discuss the benefits and variations of furniture on wheels, closing with 7 example projects illustrating their creative and practical application.

The Beauty of Exposed Wooden Trusses

© Koichi Torimura© Shigeo Ogawa© Matthijs van Roon© Shigeo Ogawa+ 28

Timber trusses are wooden structural frameworks used to support roofs or other heavy structures. Fabricated from a series of triangles linked by a ridge beam and purlins, wooden trusses are structurally advantageous due to their high strength-to-weight ratios and corresponding ability to support long spans. However, these structural components can also be used for aesthetic ends, and when left exposed, can complexify, beautify, and open an interior space.

Round Pillars in Architecture: From the Classical Column to the Modern Sculptural Support

© Edgard Cesar© Edgard Cesar© Denilson Machado© Ilya Ivanov+ 47

The pillar has adorned many of the greatest monumental examples of Western architecture since antiquity, from the Doric columns of the Parthenon to the Corinthian capitals of the Pantheon portico. In the West, the legacies of these classical forms have permutated over the centuries and into modern times: the Doric columns of the Lincoln Memorial, the Ionic columns of the British museum portico, and the Villa Savoye’s pilotis are just a few examples of the classical column’s continued transformation and use over the last few centuries. Today, the round pillar continues to be used in modern design, both functionally and aesthetically. Below, we look into these elements in more detail, including their materials, construction, structural qualities, and several contemporary examples of their use.

Polycarbonate for Interiors: 8 Examples of Translucent Architecture Indoors

© Federico Villa Studio© Federico Villa Studio© Peter Dixie© Yijie Hu+ 35

Diversifying the materials of an interior space can greatly improve its depth and visual interest. At the same time, adding partitions or other delineations of internal space can help organize flow, circulation, and visibility. Polycarbonate, a type of lightweight, durable thermoplastic, is an excellent medium for both functions.

In its raw form, polycarbonate is completely transparent, transmitting light with nearly the same efficacy as glass. However, it is also lighter and stronger than glass and tougher than other similar plastics such as acrylic, polystyrene, ABS, or nylon, making it a good choice for designers seeking durable, impact and fire resistant materials that still transmit light. Like glass, it is a natural UV filter and can be colored or tinted for translucency, yet it is also prized for its flexibility, allowing it to be shaped into any size or shape. Finally, it is easily recyclable because it liquefies rather than burning, making it at least more environmentally friendly than other thermoset plastics. For example, recycled polycarbonate can be chemically reacted with phenol in a recycling plant to produce monomers that can be turned back into plastic.