A couple of years ago, digital fabrication was making headlines regularly, promising to drastically change the architecture practice. The revolution in architecture might not have arrived yet, but research projects, experiments and the dedication of several architects and universities already opened a new realm of possibilities for architectural expression. Therefore, it seems appropriate to give an overview of the impact the technology had so far within the architecture practice. This article covers the different types of processes within the field and the projects that experiment with them, with the scope of reframing the architectural potential of digital fabrication.
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As a firm which has already won major awards, worked on culturally significant projects on a large scale, and generally achieved substantial success and recognition in just over 10 years, SO-IL seem to straddle a line between being an “emerging” and an “established” practice. Florian Idenburg and Jing Liu founded SO-IL (Solid Objectives-Idenburg Liu) in 2008 and have since gained a reputation for modern, clean-lined designs, but often with a unique material twist.
Solutions from the past can often provide practical answers for the problems of the future; as the London-based design and research firm, Space Popular demonstrate with their "Timber Hearth" concept. It is a building system that uses prefabrication to help DIY home-builders construct their own dwellings without needing to rely on professional or specialized labor. Presented as part of the ongoing 2018 Venice Biennale exhibition “Plots Prints Projections,” the concept takes inspiration from the ancient "hearth" tradition to explain how a system designed around a factory-built core can create new opportunities for the future of home construction.
Ever wondered about the hardest and softest woods in the world? As architects, we're all pretty familiar with the softest: Balsa. Its material qualities are what make it so attractive to make models. But what about the the strongest wood in the world? Ever pondered just how many pounds or kilos of force they can withstand?
Have you ever spent hours calibrating the nozzle of a 3D printer or preparing a print-ready file – only to find that the model has failed because of a missed zero-thickness wall? With this in mind, the Platonics Ark—a 3D printer currently being developed in Helsinki, Finland—has one simple goal: to remove all unnecessary set-up and technical processes by means of intelligent automation and, as a result, almost entirely eliminate the wasted time that architects and designers spend calibrating printers, or working up print-ready files.
From the Bird’s Nest to the CCTV headquarters, for the past 100 days Chinese performance artist "Nut Brother" has been wandering the streets of Beijing collecting smog with an industrial vacuum so that he can eventually turn it into bricks. He has now began to form his bricks by mixing a combination of the collected "dust and smog" with clay. As he told Quartz, the project is meant to be a symbol. Read the whole story here.
LEGO enthusiast Arnon Rosan has created a full-scale, interlocking "LEGO" block that allows users to quickly assemble life-size structures. The LEGO-like "EverBlock" is a modular system of polypropylene blocks with raised lugs that can be stacked to form furniture, installations or even emergency shelters. As Wired reports, the blocks come in 14 colors, three sizes - full (one-foot-long), half (six-inches), and quarter (three-inches) - and vary in weight from a quarter to two pounds.
"Each module is designed to connect easily with the parts above and below, using a pressure fit which creates a strong link between blocks. Because of its unique lug system, you can stagger EverBlocks in 3" increments, to create all types of patterns," says EverBlock.
Glass can be molded, formed, blown, plated, sintered and now 3D printed. Neri Oxman and her Mediated Matter Group team has just unveiled their new glass printing platform: G3DP: Additive Manufacturing of Optically Transparent Glass. A collaboration with the Glass Lab at MIT, G3DP is the first of its kind and can 3D print optically transparent glass with stunning precision.
"G3DP is an additive manufacturing platform designed to print optically transparent glass," Oxman told ArchDaily. "The tunability enabled by geometrical and optical variation driven by form, transparency and color variation can drive; limit or control light transmission, reflection and refraction, and therefore carries significant implications for all things glass: aerodynamic building facades optimized for solar gain, geometrically customized and variable thickness lighting devices and so on."
View has raised $150 million to fund their specialized Dynamic Glass tints. The new technology automatically responds to outdoor conditions or from a mobile phone, resulting in a reactive tint that reduces heat and glare. This, as the company said in a press release, allows for "greater occupant comfort and energy savings without ever compromising the view." The tinted windows have been installed in more than 100 locations across North America. The funds will be used to accelerate product development.
The world's energy infrastructure may soon undergo significant change; Tesla Motors recently unveiled the Powerwall, a compact, lithium-ion battery pack that will allow residents to autonomously consume energy by drawing from their own sun-powered reserve. For just $3,500, you can purchase an attractive, wall-mounted battery capable of storing up to 10 kilowatt-hours of energy - about a third of what the average US household uses daily. Beyond this, the company will also be offering scalable Powerpacks to businesses and utility companies that will allow limitless storage. Powerwalls will go out for delivery this summer.
Google's proposed California headquarters will be built with robots, according to the most recent planning documents received by the City of Mountain View Council. As the Architects' Journal reported first, the documents detail BIG and Heatherwick Studio's plan to construct the canopy-like structure's interiors with a team of robotic-crane hybrids known as "crabots."
These crabots would, in theory, establish a "'hackable' system for the building of the interior structures," says the documents, that would allow for limitless, easy, and affordable reconfiguration of space throughout the building's life.
The poor quality and laying of stone flooring in Milan's newly completed Museum of Culture has led its architect, David Chipperfield to dissociate himself with the building. Blasting officials for skimping on materials, the British architect is demanding his name be removed from the project, claiming the building is now a "museum of horrors" and a "pathetic end to 15 years of work" due to the low quality flooring.
On the contrary, Milan's council says the material decision was made in the "interests of the taxpayers," further claiming that, according to councillor Filippo del Corno, Chipperfield has been "unreasonable and impossible to please."
Following on from other experiments in 3-D Printing including a proposal for a house printed from salt and an earthquake resistant column inspired by Incan masonry, the California-based Emerging Objects team has created Bloom, a pavilion constructed from 840 unique blocks 3-D printed from portland cement.
The 9-foot (2.7 meter) tall pavilion is cruciform in plan, morphing as it rises to become the same cruciform shape twisted by 45 degrees. On the facade of the pavilion, perforations are mapped onto the cement blocks to create a design inspired by traditional Thai flower patterns.
When one hears the term masonry architecture, digital fabrication and automated construction processes are probably not the first ideas to come to mind. By its very nature, the architecture produced with stone masonry is often heavy, massive, and incorporates less natural light than alternative methods. However, with their research proposal for "Smart Masonry," ZAarchitects are proposing to change masonry buildings as we know them and open opportunities for digital fabrication techniques in stone and other previously antiquated materials. Read on after the break to get a glimpse of what these new masonry buildings could look like and learn more about the process behind their construction.
In the United States alone, more than 125 million plastic bottles are discarded each day, 80 percent of which end up in a landfill. This waste could potentially be diverted and used to construct nearly 10,000, 1200-square-foot homes (taking in consideration it takes an average of 14,000 plastic bottles to build a home that size). Many believe this process could be a viable option for affordable housing and even help solve homelessness.
“See the future, create the future,” this is the motto of Dubai’s newly unveiled “Museum of the Future.” The metallic oblong-structure, planned for a corner lot in Dubai’s central financial district next to the Emirates Towers on Sheikh Zayed Road, is said to become “an incubator for ideas and real designs, a driver for innovation and a global destination for inventors and entrepreneurs.”
"The world is entering a new era of accelerated knowledge and great technological revolutions,” tweeted United Arab Emirates prime minister Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum. "We aim to lead in that era, not to follow and lag behind. The Museum of the Future is the first step of many to come, marking the beginning of great achievements."
Holograms, robotics and 3-D printing will play a crucial role in the structure’s realization. Learn more and watch a video fly-through the building after the break.
With a recently released animation entitled “We Start the Future of Construction,” Coop Himmelb(l)au announced their intention to take digital fabrication to a radical new scale, demonstrating how technology is impacting almost every aspect of the architectural profession. The advent of building information modeling and other modeling software has transformed how architects and engineers navigate the construction process, allowing us to achieve increasingly complex forms that can be modeled with the aid of CNC machining and 3D Printing, but still there remains a wide gap between the technologies available to architects and those employed by builders. When it comes to a building’s actual construction we have been limited by the great costs associated with non-standard components and labor - but now, the automated practices that transformed manufacturing industries could revolutionize how we make buildings.
Last week, ArchDaily sat down with co-founder, Design Principal and CEO of Coop Himmelb(l)au, Wolf D. Prix for his thoughts on the future of construction and the role of the architect in an increasingly technological practice. Read on after the break to find out how robots could impact architectural design, construction, and the future of the profession.
Concrete construction has been an important part of architectural practice since the Roman Empire. Extremely malleable, fluid concrete is capable of being poured into almost any conceivable form. In theory, this makes it an ideal building material. In practice, however, creating complex forms out of concrete is extremely inefficient. Pouring on sight requires formwork that is painstakingly made by hand, and precast concrete is usually limited by orthogonal molds. Concrete has become restricted to a few simple forms that are easy and cheap to produce when, in many cases, a building would benefit from concrete casting that is optimized for its structural and economical needs. How do we make such optimization feasible? This is the question that the EU sponsored TailorCrete has attempted to answer. A research consortium lasting for four years, TailorCrete is exploring new technologies that could make non-standard concrete structures commonplace.