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3D Printing, Prefabrication, and Interior Design: Construction Trends for 2022

Jorge Drexler sings, in one of his songs, that “we always look at the river, contemplating the other riverbank”. Beyond understanding everything that was done, looking back at the past year can serve to get some clues about the future. This 2021, we published more than 160 articles in the Materials & Products section, covering a wide range of topics. From complex concepts such as 4D printing or very little processed materials such as hempcrete and bamboo, drawing a retrospective of the covered themes and understanding what interested our readers the most is an interesting exercise to foreshadow some trends in the future of the construction field. Looking at our most viewed articles, three large themes are evident: 3D printing, pre-fabrication, and interior renovation. Below, we present a compilation of each topic, reflecting on what we can dare to say about the trends in the construction industry that should consolidate in 2022.

"Being Simple Does Not Mean Being Commonplace": An Interview With Antonio Citterio

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"When I think about design in general, a story of families always comes to mind, especially in furniture design. Stories of people and families". Flexform has spoken with Antonio Citterio, Italian architect and designer, to delve into the design concepts that shape their 2020 Collection. Learn more here.

Hydraulic Tiles: Artisan Manufacturing and Custom Design

Hydraulic tiles are tiles produced entirely by hand with cement-based raw materials. Created in the mid-1800s in Spain, and widely used in Europe and America, it is a versatile option that can not only be applied in public areas, such as squares and sidewalks, but also interiors, including floors, walls, and furniture. Their versatility stems from the fact that they are highly customizable, from their colors and patterns to their geometry and dimensions. Read below a mostly technical explanation of these tiles, their manufacture, and their installation.

Apartamento Pompeia / Estúdio DEIXA. Image © Paul BessaApartamento Bella / Casulo. Image © Joana FrançaCasa Brooklin / Gema Arquitetura. Image © Luis GomesApartamento AMRA7 / Piratininga Arquitetos Associados + Bruno Rossi Arquitetos. Image © Nelson Kon+ 22

Why It’s Effective To Wrap Architecture In Zinc

A lightweight material par excellence, zinc is a non-ferrous metal that provides an effective solution for coating buildings exposed to adverse weather conditions, while simultaneously delivering a creative response to the requirements of a project.

When in contact with humidity during the summer, zinc panels generate a self-protecting layer that isolates heat from indoor spaces. Rain and snow slide easily over its surfaces, and its modular panels can wrap curved shapes or be perforated according to the architectural design, and combined in facades and/or ceilings through different shades, brightness, and colors.

Legacy ER Allen / 5G Studio Collaborative. Manufactured by MetalTech-USA. Image © Michael Moran/OTTOThe House on the Cliff / GilBartolome Architects. Manufactured by elZinc. Image © Jesús GranadaThe Alchemist / Reid Architects. Manufactured by elZinc. Image Cortesía de elZincStade De Soccer de Montréal / Saucier + Perrotte architectes + Hughes Condon Marler Architects. Manufactured by elZinc. Image © Olivier Blouin+ 19

What Is Interior Design (And Why Can It Really Make You Feel Better)?

If you don't like a specific musical style, the theater bores you, or you're not attracted to works of art, you can almost always avoid them. Architecture, however, is different. A poorly thought-out project will affect the lives of many people consistently and for a long time. With interiors, this effect is even more amplified. Humanity is spending more and more time indoors, which directly impacts our well-being and health. In periods of compulsory retirement, as in the current pandemic of Covid-19, we gain a sense of how important interior spaces are for our well-being and even for the prevention of diseases. Designing an indoor environment is a huge responsibility for a professional. An interior designer must plan, research, coordinate, and manage these projects to obtain an adequately healthy and aesthetically pleasing environment for the people who use the space. But what, in fact, is interior design?

Appartement Spectral / BETILLON / DORVAL‐BORY. Image Courtesy of BETILLON / DORVAL‐BORYThe Enchanted Shed & Leopold House / Franz&Sue. Image © Andreas BuchbergerOficina do Arquiteto / Ruetemple. Image © RuetempleHey! A Lovely Tiny Space / A'Lentil Design. Image Courtesy of A'Lentil Design+ 19

Minimalist Windows with High Rigidity Steel Profiles: Transparency and Subtle Design

After centuries of using wood for the development of window and door carpentry, the Rationalism of the 20th century began to adopt a new material for these purposes: steel. Driven by industrial production, and promoted by architects such as Adolf Loos, Mies van der Rohe, and Le Corbusier, steel was evolving to generate increasingly thin and resistant frames. However, efficient and low-cost materials, such as aluminum and PVC, gradually began to replace its widespread use, increasing the size of the frames and losing steel's "clean" aesthetic when applied to a growing architecture of large glass paneled facades.

At present, new technologies have refined their production processes, developing minimal profiles of high rigidity and precision, which take full advantage of the transparency of the glass and deliver new comfort and safety features. We talked with Jansen's experts to deepen our understanding of their application in contemporary architecture.

LocHal Library / CIVIC architects + Braaksma & Roos architectenbureau + Inside Outside + Mecanoo. Image © Stijn BollaertMuseo Bauhaus Dessau / Addenda Architects. Image © Thomas MeyerCortesía de JansenFuturium Berlin / Richter Musikowski. Image © Schnepp Renou+ 30

Open Call: What Materials Should We Use to Build Better Cities?

Materials, products, and construction systems are constantly evolving and following new technologies, discoveries, and market trends. Today, within the framework of our Monthly Topic “Innovation” we wonder: what products or materials could we use so that our projects make relevant contributions to the way we are inhabiting our planet?

What Exactly is a Polycarbonate Translucent Facade?

Translucent facades are light glazing panels used on the exterior of buildings, protecting the structure from weather damage, dampness, and erosion. Its composition of polycarbonate microcells creates a soft, naturally diffused light with a wide range of possible colors, brightnesses, and opacities.

By fixing these panels in place with concealed joints, it’s possible to hide unsightly building elements and assist in protecting users from harmful UV rays, while also ensuring maximum thermal conduction. Individuals who use them will notice a reduction in energy bills because they use the sun’s natural light to heat and illuminate buildings, creating very attractive indoor environmental conditions for different uses. 

MZ Kitchen / QdL Arquitectos. Image © María GonzálezNathalie Mauclair Gymnasium / Schemaa. Image © David FoesselNathalie Mauclair Gymnasium / Schemaa. Image © David FoesselOption Coffee Bar / TOUCH Architect. Image © Metipat Prommomate+ 25

Above and Beyond Aesthetics, Suspended Ceilings Can Improve Occupant Comfort and Acoustical Performance

Open ceilings offer an opportunity for creative design and technical integration. They play a key role in forming interior spaces and add value by adding comfort through acoustics, finishes and other integrated solutions to the overall design intent. 

© Studiothomas© Halkin Mason Photography LLCGGP, Chicago, IL, Architect: Archideas. Image © Eric LaignelHyatt Global Headquarters / Gensler. Image © Rafael Gamo Studio LLC+ 11

How To Calculate How Much Wallpaper You Need

Once the construction of an architecture project is finished, it's time to install the claddings that will make up the visible faces of the interior spaces. Wallpaper –an efficient way to bring color and design into rooms – is generally specified according to the square meters we want to cover, so we must start by calculating the area of each surface with great precision.

Bathroom Elements Designed by Architects: TONO by Foster+Partners

Funded by Norman Foster in 1967, Foster+Partners studio develops projects that integrate architecture and engineering with interior and object design. In a special collaboration with Porcelanosa – experts in the fabrication of furniture and accessories made out of stone, ceramic, brass, wood and KRION®–, they have designed a collection of bathrooms in simple and minimalistic ways, highlighting the essence of the materials and the trade of their fabrication.

Organic, Light and Resistant: Thermoset Technology In Architecture

Initially created for aerospace purposes, materials based on advanced fiber-reinforced thermoset technology are increasingly being considered not only to manufacture specific building elements but also to change the way buildings are conceived, designed and built. Despite being incredibly resistant –almost six times stronger than steel– fiber-reinforced materials are light and easy to handle, allowing the creation of complexly shaped but efficient architectural projects.

We spoke with experts from ShapeShift, the creators of the ShapeShell product, in order to deepen our understanding of this technology and learn more about how we can take advantage of its possibilities in our future projects.  

Courtesy of ShapeshellVictorian Comprehensive Cancer Care Hospital (VCCC) / STHDI+MCR. Image Courtesy of ShapeshellRMIT / ARM (Ashton Raggatt McDougall). Image Courtesy of ShapeshellParklands Disk, Commonwealth Games Village 2018 / ARM (Ashton Raggatt McDougall). Image Courtesy of Shapeshell+ 22

Designing Ventilated Façades Using 3.5 mm Porcelain Tiles

The ventilated façade is a construction solution that uses a double enclosure distanced from each other by a support structure to generate an air chamber for ventilation. This operation creates a chimney effect that activates air currents by convection, improving the acoustic and thermal insulation of the building, and increasing its energy efficiency.

Due to its nature and manufacturing, the 3.5 mm porcelain tile is a great choice for ventilated façade cladding. Its high resistance to weathering, dimensional stability, and lightness reduce the support structure requirements. It weighs 3 times less than a traditional porcelain tile and allows large formats, up to 3.6 meters, reducing the number of joints. It also delivers high color stability, impact resistance, and low maintenance over time.

Cortesía de CHCCortesía de GrespaniaCortesía de GrespaniaCortesía de CHC+ 29

How To Recycle Expanded Polystyrene (EPS) To Turn it Into Paint

Expanded polystyrene (EPS) is a plastic material widely used for thermal insulation (and in some cases, acoustics) in building envelopes.