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Building Materials: The Latest Architecture and News

Grace Farms Opens Long-Term Exhibition Focused on Forced Labor and Building Materials Supply Chains

On May 4, 2024, cultural center Grace Farms opened a new long-term exhibition that aims to shed light on the inner workings of the building industry, offering insights into the methods of producing and distributing building materials, as well as the pervasive practices of forced labor happening in the materials supply chain worldwide. The exhibition also presents the work of “Design for Freedom,” a collaborative global movement launched in 2020 at Grace Farms. The initiative aims to change architecture by raising awareness of these issues and helping disrupt forced labor in the construction industry. Titled “With Every Fiber,” the exhibit is free to visit both at its physical location in New Canaan, Connecticut, and online as a virtual exhibition.

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Architects Must Address the Issue of Toxic Building Materials

This article was originally published on Common Edge.

By the time I was 17 years old, I had moved 11 times. Because of my own experience relocating from one place to another, I’ve spent the better part of the last several decades focused on making sure that everyone has a place to call home, that everyone enjoys the human right to housing. But it was not until my time at Enterprise Community Partners, a nonprofit focused on community development and affordable housing, that I realized the methods and materials we employ to realize that human right matter. 

From Rubble to Rebirth: Unveiling the Transformation of Warsaw's Urban Fabric

The exhibition “Warsaw 1945-1949: Rising from Rubble” took place this year at the Museum of Warsaw, exploring the postwar reconstruction and rebuilding process that took place after the war. After the Second World War, Warsaw’s entire urban fabric, architecture, and social and economic status had to be rebuilt from the ground up. Curated by Adam Przywara, the exhibition “offered a new perspective on the myth of the postwar reconstruction of the Polish capital city and one of the most interesting pages in its history.”

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Architecture Matters: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Circular Construction, and BuildTech Startups in Munich

From the top floor of the Hilton Hotel at Tucherpark in Munich, you could see the skyline of the city dotted with construction cranes, a reflection of its current state of development. With this backdrop of old meets new, this year’s edition of the Architecture Matters conference started its program under the title “Second City: The New in the Old.” While the title could have been fitting for a preservation conference, Architecture Matters actually brought together a diverse group of architects, urbanists, engineers, city planners, government officials, developers and technologists to discuss forward looking ideas for the built environment. Reduce, reuse, recycle, and the circular construction dominated the discussion across different scales, from city planning to new materials, and tech startups.

Natural or Artificially Pigmented Materials? Exploring Color Variations and their Effects

Materiality is a determining factor in shaping the character and experience of a building. Playing with the aesthetic and tactile qualities of materials, the design process encompasses their analysis, selection, and arrangement to create purposeful and sensory-rich spaces. Alongside textures and patterns, exploring materiality also involves the study of color possibilities. The versatile role of color in architectural materials extends beyond mere aesthetics, as it can broaden design opportunities and influence emotional responses, functionality, cultural relevance, and environmental performance. 

Even though each material has its distinctive inherent color, the addition of artificial or natural pigments can modify them in favor of the project’s identity. Delving into the debate on maintaining raw aesthetics or changing a material’s natural hues, we showcase various projects to study the differences between using natural versus artificial pigmentation of glass, concrete, brick, stone and wood.

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Algorithm-based Architecture: Flexible Bricks to Wrap Architectural Spaces

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There are many building materials that have experienced minimal changes since their initial inception in the field of architecture. However, this does not imply that they are outdated, but rather that their qualities and simplicity make them highly versatile materials also demonstrate the resilience and durability of materials that withstand the test of time. An example of this is brick, a timeless material that has been able to adapt over the years, serving functions such as walls, cladding, and flooring, among others. Under this premise, Louis Khan referred to the expressive possibilities of brick, stating, "Even a brick wants to be something. It aspires."

Thanks to the progress of new technologies applied to materials, disruptive proposals have arisen that converge in new construction systems. On many occasions, these new technologies are combined with materials considered "traditional," generating new concepts in which materials such as brick find new applications and possibilities. One of these new concepts is Flexbrick, a ceramic textile with an industrialized system that combines flexible sheets to wrap architectural spaces. This opens up new possibilities for applications at the forefront of the parametric architecture revolution, using a flexible, adaptable, and sustainable material.

Building for Sustainability: 3 Main Themes Explored at the Time Space Existence Exhibition in Venice

The European Cultural Centre (ECC), a non-profit organization dedicated to fostering cultural exchanges on an international scale, showcased its sixth edition of the Time Space Existence architecture exhibition alongside this year's Venice Architecture Biennale. The 2023 installment was centered on the theme of sustainability in its various forms, encompassing subjects related to migration, digital building technologies and material research, future urban developments, and housing, bringing together architects, designers, artists, academics, and photographers from 52 different countries.

Through diverse mediums and perspectives, participants have explored the philosophical concepts of Time, Space, and Existence. With a total of 217 projects on display, the exhibition is held at Palazzo Bembo, Palazzo Mora, and the Marinaressa Gardens in Venice, throughout the six-month duration of the 2023 Venice Architecture Biennale, running from May 20th to November 26th, 2023. Focusing also on emerging young architects, designers, and researchers, the 2023 edition of the exhibition is a proactive endeavor to reimagine alternative lifestyles and reconceptualize architecture within the contemporary landscape.

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What Does it Cost to Recycle Building Materials?

Almost two decades ago, in the downtown corridor of Columbus, Ohio, the century-old landmarked Lazarus Building underwent an extensive renovation to save the department store and restore it to its former glory. Sixty million dollars went into its restoration and transformation into a retail and office complex. During the construction, workers recycled nearly 5,000 pounds of steel, 2,000 pounds of concrete, and significant amounts of carpeting, ceiling tiles, and various wood- keeping 22,000 pounds of debris out of Ohio’s landfills. They also saved more than $25 million dollars by implementing this rigorous recycling process.

The Pavilion of Saudi Arabia Explores Legacy and Materiality at the Venice Biennale 2023

Saudi Arabia announced its participation at the 18th International Architecture Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia, with an exhibition titled IRTH إرث, legacy in Arabic, exploring qualities of materials in relation to the Saudi landscape. The third round of participation the Saudi Pavilion will have at the International Architecture Exhibition, this year's edition is represented by architect AlBara Saimaldahar and curated by the duo Basma and Noura Bouzo. The Pavilion will be on display at the Arsenale – Sale d’Armi 2023.

The Science Behind the Resilience of Earth Architecture

Earth architecture is built on a far-reaching history. Its story continues to be told through aged structures that have stood the test of time. Across the world, indigenous earth construction techniques have been pioneered by many ancient civilizations. Communities originally built shelters from earth - the most readily available material to them - and have passed on their construction techniques through generations. Earth architecture evolved with a careful understanding of land and location. With practices perfected decades ago, it is fascinating to see earth architecture remaining resilient through adversities 

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