Åke E:son Lindman
From its outer skin to its structural framing system, a building is made out of many layers. Just like a human body, many of those layers – which tend to be the most crucial, functional components – remain unseen by the public, covered with aesthetic features. Among all the hidden elements, all buildings include sheathing, the outer casing that construction crews place to serve several key purposes: protect the floor, walls, roofs and ceilings, fortify the structure against internal and external forces, and cover the entire framework, giving the building a solid shape.
Wood is the most common material for sheathing, with Oriented strand board (OSB) panels usually being the top choice. Why? Made by compressing and gluing cross-oriented strands of wood together with heat-cured adhesives, OSB boards are lightweight, flexible, strong, versatile and fully recyclable. They also stand out by resisting deflection, warping and distortion, apart from offering some thermal and acoustic insulation. However, besides their good performance and mechanical properties, OSB is especially known for being cheaper than other alternatives, drastically saving both costs and time. In fact, this structural panel can be $3 to $5 less expensive than plywood, which explains why it is often considered its low-cost substitute.
Even though white minimalism remains the norm, retro trends are making a serious comeback in modern bathroom designs, with homeowners incorporating pops of color, classic fixtures, and patterned surfaces. Despite often being static and traditional spaces in homes, bathrooms have certainly undergone significant transformations throughout the years. While those of the outspoken 1970s brought vibrant colors like avocado green and mustard yellow, the ‘80s introduced ceramic tiles in more muted, pastel shades. On the other hand, this century has set the ideal on white and marbled surfaces, slick gloss finishes, and silver fixtures. However, even as this all-white look continues to be the protagonist, bold retro enhancements are reviving and blending in with contemporary elements to create elegant, yet lively atmospheres with a strong character.
Circulation spaces are often challenging for designers as they are intended—as the name implies—for moving from one room to another. While many take advantage of these areas by using them as storage spaces, Mies van der Rohe at the Farnsworth house reduced circulation to a minimum, creating an open floor plan completely free of hallways. When faced with vertical circulation, the issue is similar. Stairs fulfill the purpose of overcoming the height between one floor and another, but rarely constitute indoor living spaces. Bleachers, in turn, play this role in several projects. Until recently, they were only found in sports spaces or amphitheaters; now the use of bleachers has become widespread and is seen in office spaces, public buildings, schools and even homes.
In his Robie House, Frank Lloyd Wright created an ingenious arrangement of public and private spaces that slowly moving away from the street through a series of horizontal planes. Pronounced eaves made the interior space expand toward the outside. Considered the first phase of the American architect's career, the so-called Prairie Houses had marked horizontality, mainly due to the enormous plans created by slightly inclined eaves. Eaves are ubiquitous in most traditional architecture, and in addition to their aesthetic role, they serve several important functions, the primary one being to keep rainwater away from the building's walls and structure. But for some time now, we have seen plenty of projects with sloping roofs without eaves, forming pure and unornamented volumes. This brings us to the question: in these projects, how are practical issues such as draining rainwater?
It is difficult to find someone who has never dreamed of building or having a tree house to call their own. The idea of a refuge, a space fully integrated with nature and with a privileged view, pleases almost all ages. There are examples of tree houses of all scales and complexities, from small elevated platforms to highly complex structures, including electrical and hydraulic installations. Some sites specializing in the topic (yes, that exists!), offer valuable tips for building these dreams. In general, they subscribe to the motto: "Choose your tree, make your project, but be ready to adapt it!"
One of Sweden’s most esteemed living architects, Gert Wingårdh (born 26 April 1951) brought Swedish architecture out of the tradition of the International Style and into contemporary times with his playful design spirit and love of eye-catching materials. With his use of bright colors and geometric motifs, his recent buildings have been described as "Maximalist" or "Modern Baroque."