Luis Diaz Diaz
Kitchens as we know them today have functionality as their main feature and for that their space was historically organized from an industrial logic. The development of home appliances and the precise definition of the layout guarantee a functional floor plan and the optimization of work in the kitchen. As part of this layout we find the worktops, horizontal half-height surfaces that have multiple uses and, therefore, many possible configurations.
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.
When talking about energy efficiency in buildings, it is inevitable to mention thermal insulation. We rarely see it in a finished building and, even in the technical drawings, the insulating layer appears as a thin hatch. But this is an element that is of vital importance, as it acts as a barrier to the flow of heat, hindering the exchange of energy between the interior and the exterior, reducing the amount of heat that escapes in winter and the thermal energy that enters in the summer. In a building with good thermal insulation, there is less need for heating to keep the house at a pleasant temperature, also reducing its carbon footprint. Currently, there are many countries that require a minimum level of thermal insulation for buildings, with increasingly strict parameters. But how should this issue be dealt with in the near future, with the worrying climate crisis forecast?