While the kitchen is a ubiquitous part of almost every home—and, in many cases, is considered symbolic of domestic living entirely—it can also take up precious space, produce visual clutter, and detract from the minimalist aesthetic of an otherwise sleek, modern home. For some homeowners, the solution is simply to keep the kitchen clean and organized at all times. But for some innovative contemporary architects and their clients, the solution is to design a compact, concealable kitchen that can quickly and easily be shuttered out of view. Below, we discuss several examples of hidden kitchens, as well as some common techniques and strategies for designing them.
External Editor at ArchDaily since 2019. Student at Columbia University.
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.
According to the UN, more than 7000 extreme weather events have been recorded since 2000. Just this year, wildfires raged across Australia and the west coast of the U.S.; Siberia charted record high temperatures, reaching 100 degrees Fahrenheit before Dallas or Houston; and globally, this September was the world’s hottest September on record. As the effects of the climate crisis manifest in these increasingly dire ways, it is the prerogative of the building industry – currently responsible for 39% of global greenhouse gas emissions – to do its part by committing to genuine and sweeping change in its approach to sustainability.
One of the most challenging aspects of this change will be to meet mounting cooling demands in an eco-friendly way. Cooling is innately more difficult than heating: any form of energy can become heat, and our bodies and machines naturally generate heat even in the absence of active heating systems. Cooling does not benefit equally from spontaneous generation, making it often more difficult, more costly, or less efficient to implement. Global warming and its very tangible heating effects only exacerbate this reality, intensifying an already accelerating demand for artificial cooling systems. As it stands, many of these systems require large amounts of electricity and rely heavily on fossil fuels to function. The buildings sector must find ways to meet mounting demand for cooling that simultaneously elides these unsustainable effects.
If ancient Hellenic sources are to be believed, hanging gardens have existed at least since antiquity when the famous Hanging Gardens of Babylon were described by writers such as Herodotus and Philo of Byzantium. Today, vertical gardens have proliferated alongside the interest in indoor plants and gardens, especially in suitable climates. This trend in architecture reflects a simultaneous uptick in interest toward sustainability and a more pastoral, back-to-nature lifestyle. In the projects listed below, several of the architects mention moving forward from an industrial past—with its concomitant environmental effects—toward a better future, or at least a secluded, fresh, and natural outpost amidst the chaos of modern city life. Indoor gardens, and the visual allure of hanging plants and climbing vines, provide the setting for such a life. These vertical designs simultaneously conserve space and embed the plants within the atmosphere of the house, ensuring the space feels as much like a garden as it does a comfortable home.
The benefits of prefabrication are by now well-documented: prefabricated construction is cheaper, faster, better for the environment, and more consistent than traditional forms of architectural construction. At the same time, it can be used for a wide range of unique designs, calculated to meet a client’s specific needs. To take advantage of these many benefits, however, the prefabrication systems and products themselves must meet a certain standard of quality and flexibility.
Below, we consider five architectural projects using custom glass windows and doors by Western Window Systems, each designed to maximize utility for prefabricated and modular construction logics. Beyond their suitability for prefabricated construction, these products also maximize views, aesthetics, and functionality, blurring the line between indoor and outdoor living.
Islands are an essential part of any larger kitchen layout, increasing counter space, storage space, and eating space as well as offering a visual focal point for the kitchen area. Serving a variety of functions, they can be designed in a variety of different ways, with some incorporating stools or chairs, sinks, drawers, or even dishwashers and microwaves. To determine which elements to include and how to arrange them, designers must determine the main purpose or focus of the island. Will it primarily serve as a breakfast bar, a space to entertain guests, an extension of the kitchen, or as something else? And with this function in mind, how should it enhance the kitchen workflow vis-à-vis the rest of the area? These considerations, combined with basic accessibility requirements, necessitate that the design of the island be carefully thought out. Below, we enumerate some of the essential factors of kitchen island design.
Flooding is a significant problem for buildings all around the world, including architectural treasures like the Farnsworth House that have been plagued by the issue time and time again. In particular, one-third of the entire continental U.S. are at risk of flooding this spring, especially the Northern Plains, Upper Midwest, and Deep South. In April of 2019, deadly floods decimated parts of Mozambique, Malawi, Zimbabwe, and Iran as well, resulting in a low estimate of 1,000 deaths while tens of thousands more were displaced. While architecture cannot solve or even fully protect from the most deadly floods, it is possible – and necessary – to take several protective measures that could mitigate damage and consequently save lives.
Many practitioners and theorists of modern architecture favored large open plans, looming glass windows, and through both of these means, an unencumbered connection to nature. To do so, many iconic modernist buildings would use cantilevered roofs extending over glass curtainwalls, including Mies van der Rohe’s Farnsworth House and Pierre Koenig’s Case Study House #22. In the years since this trend was popularized, however, a seemingly niche yet cumbersome problem would present itself: the problem of continuous wood ceilings.
Translucent polycarbonate panels boast unique and striking aesthetics while simultaneously maintaining efficient functionality. They can add depth and color to a façade and may adapt to meet a wide range of performance requirements, from temperature resistance to impact resistance to UV protection and more. Rodeca, a leading company in the polycarbonate panel industry, offers high-quality products with high customizability vis-à-vis colors, transparency levels, treatments, profiles, sizes, joint systems, and more. Below is a detailed list of these many options, accompanied by diagrams and installation steps. We also discuss several case studies where polycarbonate facades have been used to great success, taking full advantage of the options available alongside the intrinsic aesthetic qualities of the translucent panels to complement and elevate their designs.
Often, when people think of buildings, they default to imagining rectangular structures—or at the very least, structures with orthogonal floor plans and hard angles, certainly not buildings with circular plans. The rarity of the circular plan comes in part from the fact that poor design choices can lead to wasted space and awkward interior arrangements, especially if furniture and appliances are rectangular in shape. However, strongly designed circular planes can have a dramatic effect, generating extraordinary spatial configurations that meet a variety of aesthetic and functional needs, while challenging the material specification process. Below, we list 18 buildings with circular plans, considering their varying strategies of design.
Rooftop water tanks are a familiar part of the New York City skyline, persisting through generations of the city's rapid growth. Yet despite their nostalgic affect and somehow endearing states of relative decay, their decrepit outward appearances may belie their water's quality. In 2014, it was found that many of these weathered containers had actually built up layers of grime and that some even contained E. coli. In 2019, the city finally passed legislation mandating annual inspection reports for all drinking water tanks, though these changes are still nascent.
Perforated wall panels offer a variety of benefits: they can provide passive ventilation, shade, and unique aesthetics to any façade. In the case of companies like Dri-Design, which specializes in customizable and sustainable metal wall panels, perforated panels can be produced according to a wide variety of specifications, including different colors, materials, sizes, textures, shapes, and styles of perforation. Dri-Design’s perforated imaging series even allows architects to apply images onto their facades by varying the size, location, and density of the perforations.
Below, we examine three case studies of buildings using different perforated panels, considering each of their panel specifications and overall aesthetic effect on the buildings.
Across the globe, tall wood structures have begun transforming the world of skyscrapers and high-rise buildings, ushering in an important shift to an architectural practice that has traditionally been dominated by steel and concrete. Typically defined as wood-constructed buildings over 14 stories or 50 meters high, the past six years have seen over 44 tall wood buildings built or underway around the world. Notable examples include Michael Green Architecture and DLR Group’s T3 and Team V Architectuur’s upcoming 73 meter residential tower HAUT.
Although holograms have been a possibility for decades—the first hologram was developed in the early 1960’s following the development of laser technology—many might still associate them more with science fiction, the term conjuring up images of high-tech superhero gadgets and spaceships in the distant future. Yet as we inch closer to the reality of a hyper-technologized future, and a variety of industries—including architecture and construction— begin to embrace new forms of increasingly advanced technology, holography, too, has a chance of completely reshaping the way we conceptualize and experience architecture. While it is impossible to predict exactly how holographic technology will be used in the future, below, we list several examples of existing projects that use holograms and other types of holography to create atmospheric environments, fantastical scenes, and practical visualizations. These examples move beyond the use of holograms to visualize structures and sites during the design phase; they utilize holography to shape the completed architectural space itself, completely altering the sensory and spatial experience of their environment.