Craftmanship is back. Following a century of mass production and industrial development, crafts are starting to be revalued and reinterpreted. A new sensitivity towards raw materials, the recovery of local techniques and the defense of small-scale trade are a few of the claims that this comeback represents. Materials such as earth and ceramics, textiles and wood are being reinterpreted by designers, artists, and architects around the world, in search of both their own style and the representation of collective nostalgia.
Kengo Kuma's architecture can be defined by its respect to Japanese constructive traditions and alignment with its context. Internationally recognized, the architect is known mainly for his wooden (or mixed) structures, which arise from a simple pattern of assembly and, which through different intersections and angles, generate a complex whole. The representations created by his team bring very specific details, ranging from didactic isometrics to complex parametric drawings. We have gathered details of five inspiring projects by Kengo Kuma that use wood.
The use of wood in the construction of Chilean houses demonstrates the possibilities offered by renewable resources available in the country. The benefits are multiple: wood can be an extremely sustainable material when produced and processed under certain conditions since it can have a very low carbon footprint. Meanwhile, as a construction system, it is characterized by its warmth, resistance, and durability.
Is wood the future of construction?
Rotation, displacement, and interleaving of blocks are some of the options that enable the diversity of raw brick patterns in architecture. The shape of these elements, usually used for the construction of walls, has been explored in a creative way to compose facades of residential buildings, representing the formal identity of the building itself and its relationship with its context.
In recent years, much attention has been given to timber constructions. Being a sustainable and renewable material, which captures a huge amount of carbon during its growth, the innovations related to this material have allowed for increasingly higher constructions. However, when we talk about wood we approach an immense variety of species, with different strengths, nuances, potentials, limitations and recommended uses. While there are extremely hard and heavy woods, with strengths comparable to concrete, there are other soft and soft woods that are suitable for other purposes.
Often recognized as one of the most widespread constructive materials in the world, brick is, with no doubts, very versatile, low-cost and easily applied. Although it usually used in vertical surfaces, it also presents excellent properties when applied to horizontal ones, like floors.
In addition to their aesthetic appeal, the use of raw materials can save resources by bypassing the use of additional coatings and processes. This type of solution was most commonly used in utility buildings, such as infrastructure, factories, and warehouses. Exposed concrete floors, for example, were primarily found in industrial spaces, parking lots, and gas stations. However, they are increasingly being used in structures of different programs due to their appearance, durability, resistance, and vast possibilities for finishes. But what are the main factors to be aware of when using a concrete floor for a project?
Having been utilized as early as the Roman era in buildings of almost every scale, it is almost impossible to think of a building that does not have at least one concrete element. In fact, it is the most widely used construction material in the world, due to its versatility, resistance, ease of handling, accessibility, aesthetics, and other factors. At the same time, its manufacture is also one of the main polluters in the atmosphere, mainly due to the fact that the cement industry emits around 8% of all global emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2).
The advent of steel in architecture at the beginning of the 20th century is considered as one of the most innovative construction developments in history, allowing architects to create structures with heights, flexibility, and freedom never seen before. Henry Bessemer invented the most successful steel-making process in 1855, but it was not until 1890 that the process was refined enough for construction. The first steel constructions on both sides of the Atlantic, the Rand McNally Building in Chicago and Forth Bridge in Edinburgh, were record-breaking structures of their time.
Building with Natural Biodegradable Raw materials is one of the major recurring green construction solutions of our days. Although some might call it regressive, it is an easy and affordable way to promote Eco-friendly Architecture. The implementation of Hay or Thatched roofs are a prime example of a highly beneficial Sustainable building solution.
The global climate crisis is not only forcing us to rethink architectural design and the way we live, but also the materials and products that shape our built environment, starting from its origins and manufacture. Toward this end, wood has become an efficient alternative to steel and concrete – materials with high levels of embodied energy – and has led to some important architectural innovations that may culminate in its more widespread use worldwide.
As the world of construction becomes more automated, driven by economy, speed, and bureaucracy, architect and professor Marc Leschelier has created an exhibition at the Architektur Im Magazin Vienna, Austria, which inverts this trend. Titled “Cold Cream” the exhibition creates a secluded space, dissociated from the world, where the practice of construction is reduced to the struggle between soft and hard matters as well as spontaneous rises. The exhibition is therefore not an act of architecture, but rather approaching a form of pre-architecture.