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?
Cities constantly go through infinite changes leaving many spaces of the urban fabric forgotten and unused. Historic buildings are refurbished and adaptive reuse takes care of its new possibilities, but what happens with public space? Small interventions with simple resources and innovative solutions are the perfect way to bring back to life these neglected alleys, plazas, highways, and incorporate them into the cities' once again.
Concrete is the second-most used material on earth. It is also the second-largest emitter of CO2, with cement manufacturing accounting for 5 to 7 percent of annual emissions. The continued popularity of concrete as a material of choice in the design and construction industry, coupled with increasing unease of the environmental consequences, has put concrete firmly in the spotlight of innovation and experimentation. As a result, designers, architects, and researchers around the world are generating multiple visions for what the future of concrete in architecture could look like.
In order to create vibrant public spaces, people need to have a constant presence in these locations, whether they are on their own or in groups. In fact, they need to linger in these places and establish social interactions. To do so, one major element has to be incorporated in the urban setting: the bench.
Additive Manufacturing (AM) is a term used to identify the manufacturing processes performed by 3D printing through layer-by-layer construction. In addition to avoiding the generation of waste through the use of precise geometries and exact quantities of material, these controlled processes can be much faster than traditional ones, since they don't require tools or other instruments.
Materials and technology come together in new spaces and experiences. When looking to innovations in advanced construction, the Institute for Computational Design (ICD) and the Institute of Building Structures and Structural Design (ITKE), together with students at the University of Stuttgart, have been creating a series of experimental pavilion for many years. These structures tell a story of computational design and computer-aided manufacturing processes for advanced construction.
Between advances in autonomous technology and urban population growth, transit is being reimagined on the street and in the air. From public transit transforming to more user-centric mobility services, to rethinking regulatory and organizational status quos, advances in technology are expanding transit opportunities in cities around the world.
For decades, the gas station has been a staple of both urban and rural landscapes. As the 20th century saw the democratization of automobiles, the gas station became arguably one of the most generic, universal architectural typologies. Today in the USA alone, there are 130,000 gas stations serving 268 million cars. However, as populations move to condensed, urban areas with ever-improving public transit systems, and as the internal combustion engine evolves into electric alternatives, it is time to either redesign or retire the gas station.
As construction evolves, new advancements are shaping how we design. These movements are the product of shared ideas and the convergence of building technologies that open up new possibilities for architecture. From the atomic scale of materials to preassembled homes and faraway planets, the changes in BuildTech are felt across industries. As a result, disciplines are learning from one another to reimagine how we build.
Carlo Ratti can be considered one of the great architectural innovators of our time. The founder of Carlo Ratti Associati, and Director at the MIT Senseable City Lab, Ratti champions the power of new technologies to transform both how we live, and how we design. The act of “convergence” is central to Ratti’s architectural outlook, whether it be the convergence of bits and atoms, or natural and artificial, or human and technology. Moreover, he believes that this convergence can reframe the design process, and engage citizens in discussions on what kind of city they want to live in.
People often gather around sports activities, whether they are the ones exercising or the ones cheering. This internationally recognized social interest brings everyone together seamlessly, regardless of their background, gender, culture, ethnicity and so on.