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Building Technology: The Latest Architecture and News

New Access Technologies Will Change People's Movement Through Buildings

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The technology used in smartphone facial recognition or digital car keys has the potential to revolutionize the way people access and move through buildings. Many common aspects of building access systems today seem outdated in comparison to technological advances in other parts of our lives: PIN pads, security badges, key cards, even physical locks and keys. However, the technology already exists with the potential to make building access simultaneously more seamless and more secure.

Applying Material Innovation: Does Architecture Have What It Takes?

There is a slide I like to show at the beginning of the architecture courses I teach that provides an overview of the last hundred years or so in design and technology. In the left column, a car from the beginning of the 20th Century (a Ford Model T) is poised over a contemporary car (a Tesla). The middle column contains a similar juxtaposition, showing a WWI-era biplane and a modern-day stealth fighter (an F-117A). In the right column, Walter Gropius’s 1926 Bauhaus Dessau building is seen next to an up-to-date urban mixed-use building. The punch line, of course, is that the two buildings—separated by roughly 100 years—look basically the same, whereas the cars and planes separated by the same timespan seem worlds apart. What is the reason for this?

World's Largest 3D-Printed Concrete Pedestrian Bridge Completed in China

The world’s longest 3D-printed concrete pedestrian bridge has been completed in Shanghai. Designed by Professor Xu Weiguo from the Tsinghua University (School of Architecture) - Zoina Land Joint Research Center for Digital Architecture, the 26.3-meter-long bridge was inspired by the ancient Anji Bridge in Zhaoxian, China.

The single-arch structure was created using a 3D printing concrete system developed by Professor Xu Weiguo’s team, integrating digital design, cost efficiency, smart technology, and architectural dynamism. Enclosing the 3.6-meter width, the bridge’s handrails are shaped like flowing ribbons on the arch, creating a light, elegant movement across the Shanghai Wisdom Bay pond.

© Professor Xu Weiguo© Professor Xu Weiguo© Professor Xu Weiguo© Professor Xu Weiguo+ 20

The University of British Columbia's Bacteria-Driven Solar Cell Can Produce Energy Under Cloudy Skies

Researchers at the University of British Columbia have unveiled details of their recently-designed “bacteria-powered solar cell” capable of converting light to energy, even in overcast conditions.

Hailed as a “cheap, sustainable” method of renewable energy extraction, the cell can generate a current stronger than any previously recorded from similar devices. Development of the cell opens new possibilities for typically-overcast regions such as British Columbia and Northern Europe, where the world's first solar panel road debuted in France.

Madison Square Garden Unveils Images of Spherical Events Venue in London

The Madison Square Garden Company has unveiled images of its proposed MSG Sphere in London, a next-generation venue seeking to “redefine live entertainment” through an array of technology geared towards transformative, immersive connections between artists and audiences.

To accompany the London scheme, an MSG Sphere will also be located in Las Vegas. Both are to be designed by Populous, a global firm responsible for a large number of stadia and arenas across the globe.

Courtesy of The Madison Square Garden CompanyCourtesy of The Madison Square Garden CompanyCourtesy of The Madison Square Garden CompanyCourtesy of The Madison Square Garden Company+ 8

UNStudio Founder Launches Startup for Shaping Human-Focused Smart Cities

Courtesy of UNStudio
Courtesy of UNStudio

A bounty of technological innovations in the 21st century have led to the theorization and implementation of so-called "Smart Cities," urban environments driven by data, and designed for efficiency. Although most smart technology focuses on infrastructure, a new tech startup named UNSense has been launched with adopts a human-centric approach, focusing on health and wellbeing.

Founded by Ben van Berkel, Principal Architect of Dutch firm UNStudio, and based in an Amsterdam innovation hub, UNSense aims to use technical interventions in the urban realm to improve people’s physical, mental and social health. As an independent, sister company of UNStudio, UNSense will specialize in sensor-driven technology for user-focused architecture – a "software" approach offering a counterpoint to the "hardware" of UNStudio.

Courtesy of UNStudioCourtesy of UNStudioCitySense. Image Courtesy of UNStudioSolar Brick. Image Courtesy of UNStudio+ 5

Building Skin Developed That Could Cool Our Cities

© Harunori Noda
© Harunori Noda

The urban heat island effect - the hot, overwhelming temperatures that a city's concrete produces - has a huge impact on livability and comfort within the city. Now, an elegant cooling system has been designed that not only reduces energy usage, but - should it be installed on multiple buildings - could even lower the overall temperature of a city itself. Learn more, after the break.