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Valeria Montjoy

Materials Junior Editor at ArchDaily. Architect and Master's in Urban Project from Pontifical Catholic University of Chile (2021). Santiago, Chile.


When Vintage Meets Modern: 5 Barn Lights That Achieve a Contemporary Aesthetic

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Characterized by a simple structure and a gable roof, the traditional barnyard typology responds to its original function: sheltering farm products and livestock. In recent years, however, the barn aesthetic has evolved tremendously, sparking the interest of designers with its enduring rustic charm, minimalistic shape, refined ornamentation and modularity – qualities that have long made it popular in countryside hideaways. Reinterpreted to fit a contemporary style, the vintage typology has conquered modern projects that seek to offer an escape from the fast-paced, dense reality of urban life. Whether refurbishing historic farms or building new homes designed to resemble barns, architects have drawn inspiration from the industrial origins of traditional barnyards, but adding a modern twist.

Beyond Purely Functional Ceilings: The Possibilities of Modular Felt Systems

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Known as the “fifth wall,” a ceiling is the interior overhead surface that covers the upper limit of a room. Unlike decor, wallpaper, furniture and other pieces that define indoor ambiance, it is not usually emphasized as a crucial design component, often resulting in the classic plain white shade that continues to be the norm in many, if not most, interior spaces. Nonetheless, ceilings can serve multiple purposes in any architectural project. For example, they provide comfort, act as protective surfaces for other building systems, conceal structural elements, and add layers of texture, movement and color. They also allow the enclosure or separation of spaces and contribute to sound diffusion, hence reducing noise transfer between rooms.

What Role Do Materials and Construction Systems Play in Democratizing Architecture?

“Architecture does not change anything. It’s always on the side of the wealthy.” With these words, Oscar Niemeyer referred to architecture as being a privilege mostly destined to the upper class – a statement that has historically proven to be true, even as some would like to deny it. Today, only 2% of all houses around the world are designed by architects. This is largely due to the fact that, to the average consumer, architect-designed homes continue to be perceived as expensive and esoteric products available only to this select few; a luxury that many cannot fathom to afford, especially as housing prices rise. Ultimately, this makes good design inaccessible for certain segments, forcing them to settle for precarious living conditions in standardized spaces that fail to take their needs into account (that is, if they even have access to housing).

Reimagining the Bathroom: Contemporary Bathtubs for Total Relaxation

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Throughout the years, bathrooms have been viewed as purely functional spaces strictly programmed for hygiene and privacy. Becoming smaller and more practical, the utilitarian, space-saving shower stall has often been considered the norm, pushing the bathtub into obsolescence or as an additional luxury for those with extra space (and money). Recently, however, as lifestyle changes driven by the pandemic have placed wellness as a top priority, the notion of the bathroom as a sanctuary has really taken hold. Contemporary bathrooms have thus been reimagined, shifting towards open spaces of relaxation, comfort and recuperation. And tubs – with their inherent meditative nature – have returned to the spotlight.

Innovative Ceramic Surfaces for a Healthy Return to Movie Theaters

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In the context of the pandemic, where several businesses were forced to close temporarily, movie theaters across the world were among the most affected. Fast forward more than two years later, and the lingering effects of COVID-19 are still present, marking a turning point in the traditional cinema experience. But even as attendance is still not close to pre-pandemic levels, certain segments of moviegoers are enjoying the benefits of the giant screen, comfortable seats, massive speaker systems and theater snacks.

Towards Sustainable and Affordable Housing: Is 3D Printing the Future or the Present?

In recent years, the construction industry has faced unprecedented challenges. A lack of skilled workers is driving up costs of labor, there is a global housing shortage, and the effects of climate change around the world are clearer than ever. Therefore, questioning traditional construction methods and pushing the limits of innovation has become a top priority, forcing the industry to implement new technologies as they get on board the digital transformation era. There is one innovation, however, that looks particularly promising: 3D construction printing. Although relatively recent, the technology has already been successfully tested in numerous structures, houses and apartment buildings, reshaping residential construction as we know it. Hence, 3D printing could very well be a viable alternative for more efficient, sustainable and cost-effective mass housing solutions in the near future, positively impacting people’s lives and contributing to greener, healthier cities.

Ceramic Flooring That Can Be Installed 8 Times Faster Than Conventional Tiling

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Flooring can either make or break a space. With the proper design, it can enhance a room’s design, mark a good first impression and positively impact user experience. However, because floors must withstand damaging conditions such as exposure to moisture and heat, constant foot traffic and heavy furniture movement, it is only natural for them to degrade over time. As a result, renovating floors is crucial to maintain interiors in a good state, especially those with a lot of use.

While selecting a new material to replace the old surface, building owners, architects and designers must consider many key factors, such as comfort, durability and aesthetics. But when it comes to buildings where daily functions are carried out and thus cannot be closed for long periods of time – like supermarkets, offices and restaurants –, speed of installation often becomes the top priority. Ultimately, as the old saying goes, “time is money.”

Minimalist Windows: Erasing the Boundary Between Indoors and Outdoors

Like a beautiful painting, windows showcase interiors and frame landscapes that connect users to the outside world, directing our eyes to what really matters. But besides framing views and facilitating visual communication, windows serve multiple essential functions that make them vital components in any project. They illuminate homes with sunrays, provide natural ventilation, filter light, insulate from cold and heat, block water and ensure protection. As most design professionals would agree, glazing also plays a crucial aesthetic role; its materials, style and dimensions certainly make a significant difference in the appearance of facades and spaces.

Self-powered Homes That Pay for Themselves by Producing Clean Energy

Courtesy of Cosmic Buildings
Courtesy of Cosmic Buildings

Now that the effects of climate change are visible and indisputable, consumers are more environmentally conscious than ever. In fact, as a United Nations 2021 study suggests, 85% of them reveal that sustainability plays a key role when making their purchase decisions, motivating businesses and manufacturers to respond accordingly. This explains the rising demand for electric vehicles and products made of renewable or recyclable materials. However, architecture – and especially traditional housing – seems to be several steps behind compared to other industries. Although there are numerous efforts to move towards a greener built environment, the way most buildings are made today continues to be outdated, creating tremendous amounts of waste and significantly contributing to the global carbon footprint.

Prioritizing Comfort in Interiors: Nature-inspired Floors Made of Wood and Cork

Greatly driven by the Covid-19 pandemic, interior design trends that prioritize comfort and well-being have become more prominent than ever in recent years. With former confinement restrictions and the rise of hybrid work, the amount of time spent indoors to carry out daily functions has risen drastically, forcing many to adapt their living spaces accordingly. As a result, demand has focused on residential interiors that foster calmness, peace and warmth, as well as on products and design elements that successfully meet these new needs. But how to achieve this? While there are many ways to promote comfort inside the home, one method has been indisputably proven to be the most successful: bringing nature in.

Less Delays, More Time to Design: An Online Payment Solution for Architects

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Although some may question it, architecture is essentially a service industry. And like in all services, the process itself (meetings, invoices, payments) can be just as important as the end result (the finished project). At the end of the day, if you offer a coherent, efficient and well-structured service that complements a good design, clients will be satisfied and are likely to return. They will also spread the word and recommend the office, which is ultimately the best way for design professionals to build a good reputation and attract new customers.

Many boxes must be checked to provide a good service. But perhaps one of the most crucial involves billing and payments, which are vital for cashflow and thus fundamental for businesses. In project-based industries like architecture and design, fees are usually paid out in various installments defined by specific time frames, from the initial design delivery to construction. Therefore, receiving a consistent, predictable income in all stages is indispensable; it avoids non-payments and delays that can hinder project delivery and cause complicated situations.

How to Install the Hardware of a Pivot Door? A Detailed Guide

Courtesy of FritsJurgens
Courtesy of FritsJurgens

Without a doubt, pivot doors are more in style than ever. Rotating on a vertical axis with nearly invisible components, these swinging doors are characterized by their clean lines, contemporary aesthetic and endless design possibilities – features that make them ideal for a wide array of applications, especially as grand design statements. They particularly stand out, however, for their beautiful and elegant movement that allows smooth transitions between spaces, setting them apart from regular hinged doors. To ensure that this characteristic motion is achieved, two steps are indispensable: selecting high-quality hardware and installing it properly.

Climate-Smart Furniture: The Story Behind a 100% Sustainable Lounge Chair

Since the early 2000s, it has been widely reported that the construction industry accounts for nearly 40% of the planet’s CO2 emissions. The role of interiors in that percentage has been historically underestimated, with common statistics suggesting that a project’s furniture, fixtures and equipment are only responsible for about 7 to 10% of its overall carbon footprint. However, new research notably indicates the contrary: in a building’s average life span, the carbon footprint of its interiors will equal – if not exceed – that of the structure and envelope. Interior design, to the surprise of many, has actually been doing great harm.