Locality, Legality, and Limiting Landscapes: The Story Behind Switzerland’s Villa Vals

The rustic village of Vals in the Swiss Alps is one of the country’s most picturesque areas, located at an altitude of 1250 meters above sea level with numerous exceptional projects. The main square is surrounded by original Vals houses roofed with stone tiles made of Vals quartzite. Throughout the years, the village maintained its authentic residential and rural typology, making sure that its agriculture and rural fabric remained intact. Perhaps the most powerful natural resource of the Vals Valley, one that has nurtured its landscape and wilderness, is the water. For millions of years, ice and rain have forged the deeply-cut topography, and provided the village with a 30-degree thermal source, the only one in the Grisons Canton which springs straight from the ground.

Perforated Architecture: 20 Projects that Bring Back the Historic Musharrabiya

There is often an intricate relationship between architecture and the environment. Each part of the world has defined its own architectural techniques based on its unique climatic conditions. However, environmental concerns in the 21st century provoked new techniques, implementing solutions to preserve natural resources and provide thermal comfort. While some opted for a futuristic approach with mechanical and technologically-advanced solutions, others decided to go back in time and explore how civilizations protected their people, architecture, and environment when they had nothing else to resort to but the environment itself. In this article, we look at how Musharrabiyas found their way back into modern-day architecture as significant vernacular features.

A Brief History of the Maldives: Culture, Contemporary Architecture and Tourism

The Maldives is a sovereign island country located in the Indian Ocean, organized into 26 atolls. It comprises 1,200 islands of which 203 are inhabited; it is located 450 km from India and is considered a micro-state since its extension is only 298 square kilometers. Its capital and most populated city is Malé, with a population of 103,693 inhabitants. It has a tropical and humid climate and is the least populated country in Asia. The archipelago is composed of about 1,190 coral islands grouped in a double chain of 26 atolls, following a north-south direction, occupying an area of about 90,000km, making it one of the most dispersed countries in the world.

5 Designers Explore the Possibilities of Biomaterials in Mexico

As part of the 14-day design festival that took place in Mexico City, SPACE10 presented the exhibition "Deconstructed Home", with the intention of taking it to different places in Mexico. Five designers were convened and through six intensive weeks of design research and experimentation, they identified and explored new possibilities and uses for the biomaterial of their choice.

"Traditional Construction Is Doomed To Disappear:" Interview With the Portuguese Office Summary

Contemporary challenges and developments in technology inevitably trigger changes in the way we design and build our cities. SUMMARY, one of ArchDaily's Best New Practices of 2021, is a Portuguese architecture studio focused on the development of prefabricated and modular building systems. Striking a balance between pragmatism and experimentalism, the firm develops prefabricated solutions in order to respond to a driving challenge of contemporary architecture—to speed up and simplify the construction process. Founded in 2015 by the architect Samuel Gonçalves, a graduate of the School of Architecture of the University of Porto, the studio has presented at prominent events such as the 2016 Venice Biennale. We talked with Samuel about the firm's practical experience in prefabrication and modulation, as well as their experiments and forays into research.

Building Houses With Giant Blocks: U-Build and the Future of Self-Construction

It is difficult to find someone who never played LEGO as a child. What if, like LEGO's, we thought of buildings as great assembling games? U-Build is a modular wooden construction system developed by Studio Bark to be easy to build, pleasant to inhabit, and simple to deconstruct at the end of its useful life. The system removes many of the difficulties associated with traditional construction, enabling individuals and communities to build their own homes and buildings. The system uses precision CNC machining to create a kit of parts, allowing the structure of the building to be assembled by people with limited skills and experience, using only simple hand tools.

The Production Chain of Architecture: Reasons to Choose Local Building Materials

The construction industry is known to be one of the most polluting industries on the planet, but we often find it difficult to associate the role of the architect and urban planner with this industry, thus avoiding the responsibility of being involved in one of the most harmful production chains in the world. Therefore, it is imperative to emphasize the importance of questioning not only the materials used in the projects but also the manufacturing systems involved.

Hybrid Architecture: Combining Digital Design and Vernacular Crafts

In Mendoza, Argentina, the digital fabrication research lab Node 39 FabLab created a frame loom structure made of digitally cut wood to help indigenous people in the central region of the country weave and create their traditional patterns. In the state of Ceará, northeast Brazil, a study entitled "Artífices Digitais" (Digital Artisans) by the Federal University of the State of Ceará used digital fabrication tools, namely 3D printing, to produce digital models, like digital prosthetics, to restore the damaged parts of an altarpiece of the high altar of the Mother Church in the city of Russas.

Local Techniques in Big Cities: Beyond Earth and Bamboo

Vernacular techniques and local materials are becoming more and more relevant in architecture, but is it possible to bring these concepts to large urban areas?

"The Art of Pattern is the Legacy of our Grandparents": Koen Mulder on the Brick Bond as a Composition Tool

"Welcome to this strange book. With all the drawings, it might appear like a manual, but it isn't. The book is as much about joints as it is about pieces. Above all, it seeks the order that is inherent in things". These words are part of the introduction to Koen Mulder's book, "The lively surface: Masonry associations as a pattern art and tool of composition". Available in German, the 160-page manual, rigorously illustrated, presents a universe of possible pattern variations that can be created when you start designing.

Local Can Be Universal

In the 14th century, Geoffrey Chaucer wrote “Familiarity breeds contempt”. By definition “local” is “familiar”. Why are humans so thrilled to go beyond the familiar, the local, and reach for what is new, universal, and salvational? The word “local” has the weight of true value, like “density” or “sustainable” But the lure of connection between all humans is powerfully seductive, and that desire to connect almost always falls short of our hopes.  

Towards a Sustainable Future: Local Materials and Methods in Contemporary Chinese Architecture

Over the course of the last decade there has been a growing interest in the handcrafted buildings, as well as in the application of local and renewable materials in building construction. Under the concerns about the heavy environmental and economic expenses caused by construction, nowadays urban planners are embracing the concept of sustainability, which refers to “meeting our own needs without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs”.

Is It Possible to Mix Local Materials and 3D Printing?

The art of building a shelter made from blocks of ice is passed on from father to son among the Inuit, native peoples who inhabit the northernmost regions of the planet. The circular plan, the entrance tunnel, the air outlet and the ice blocks form a structure where the heat generated inside melts a superficial layer of snow and seals the gaps, improving the thermal insulation of ice. In a storm, an igloo can be the difference between life and death and perhaps this is the most iconic and radical example of what it means to build with local materials, few tools and lots of knowledge. In this case, ice is all you have.

The Refurbishment and Adaptive Reuse of Brutalist Architecture

"Demolition is a waste of many things – a waste of energy, a waste of material, and a waste of history," says Pritzker-winning architect Anne Lacaton. In recent years, refurbishment and adaptive reuse have become ubiquitous within the architectural discourse, as the profession is becoming more aware of issues such as waste, use of resources and embedded carbon emissions. However, the practice of updating the existing building stock lacks consistency, especially when it comes to Brutalist heritage. The following explores the challenges and opportunities of refurbishment and adaptive reuse of post-war architecture, highlighting how these strategies can play a significant role in addressing the climate crisis and translating the net-zero emissions goal into reality while also giving new life to existing spaces.

Asia's Local Mesh Material: 18 Projects that Explore the Versatility of Rattan

Over the past couple of years, many designers have voiced their commitment to ethical and ecological sourcing, resorting to frugal designs through local materials, traditional techniques, and equitable architecture. Having this approach in mind, many found inspiration in their cultural heritage, reimagining ancient designs in contemporary contexts.