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Construction: The Latest Architecture and News

How Can Concrete Construction and Sustainability Truly Coexist?

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Concrete and sustainability are two words that are often considered incompatible. Used as early as the Roman era, concrete has shaped much of our built environment, being the most widely used manufactured material in the planet thanks to its resistance, versatility, cost-effectiveness, and accessibility, among other inherent benefits. Its popular use in buildings and infrastructure forms the foundations of cities, connects communities, and will continue to play a vital role in providing solutions to the challenges of the future – especially as cities must respond to a growing global population. But with cement as its key ingredient, it also comes with several environmental costs, being responsible for at least 8% of the world’s carbon emissions in a climate-change context. However, it doesn’t necessarily have to be that way. With the rise of innovative technologies and products, there are many ways to make concrete greener.

Interior Panels: Flexible and Customizable Aluminum Profiles

There are a variety of wall coverings, façades and ceilings on the market, with multiple aesthetic options, fulfilling different functions and supplied by many companies. One thing they all have in common is that they are structured on frames which usually don't get much attention, yet directly influence the installation and the final result. These frames can vary in materials and complexity, as well as in how the panels are connected. The fixing of the panels cannot always be hidden, with visible screws or other parts, which end up requiring the use of other methods to hide them.

New Zealand brand Fastmount specializes in the development of hidden panel systems and has just launched a new system for interiors: Stratlock. The particularity of this product is that it offers designers and builders a complete and integrated system that is especially developed for the construction of ceiling and wall structures on irregular substrates. It can be used to affix internal panels with precision, and can be cut to any desired size in order to build the frame to attach the panels.

Colors Of the Earth: Ghana's Incredible, Rammed Earth Walls

Rammed earth constructions are not a novelty, on the contrary, some sections of the Great Wall of China were made using this technique. Relegated and replaced by modern methods of construction, the mud walls are currently re-emerging as an economic, sustainable solution, with low environmental impact. Even Joelle Eyeson, a young African entrepreneur, is betting that it may be the answer to the housing deficit in her region.

This is a rudimentary construction system in which earth is compressed into wooden boxes. The clay is horizontally placed in layers of 15 cm in height, and compacted with manual or pneumatic tools, to achieve its ideal density creating a resistant and durable structure.

Cortesia de Hive EarthCortesia de Hive EarthCortesia de Hive EarthCortesia de Hive Earth+ 22

Enric Ruiz-Geli's CaixaForum Valencia Passes the Halfway Mark in Spain

The new CaixaForum Valencia has passed the halfway mark within Valencia's City of Arts and the Sciences complex, as explained by La Caixa Foundation deputy general director, Elisa Duran, on a site visit alongside the architect and Could 9 leader, Enric Ruiz-Geli.

4 Ways to Create a Safer and More Cost-Effective Building Environment

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Considering our present time, the COVID-19 pandemic will likely have a lasting influence on the next era of building and design, shaping how we build at every phase, including design, materials, and building protocols. We may see architects and engineers continue to work remotely, reviewing designs and specifications virtually. Manufacturers may have to space production areas farther apart or even rely on more automation.

Clay or Concrete, Solid or Hollow: Different Types of Bricks and Their Uses

The term brick is often used as a synonym for common clay solid blocks, but there's more to it. Bricks are perhaps the most elementary of building materials and can be used to design modular, optimized, and most importantly, versatile buildings. This article explores the most popular types of bricks according to their use in construction.

House in a Steel Corset / ŠÉPKA ARCHITEKTI. Image © Aleš JungmannMuseu Infantil do Vidro / Coordination Asia. Image Cortesia de Coordenation AsiaTorto House / Taguá Arquitetura. Image © Leonardo GiantomasiBellows House / Architects EAT. Image © Derek Swawell+ 18

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.

Cement Can Be A (More) Sustainable Material

Centro de Interpretação do Românico / spaceworkers. Image © Fernando Guerra | FG+SG
Centro de Interpretação do Românico / spaceworkers. Image © Fernando Guerra | FG+SG

"If the cement industry were a country, it would be the third-largest emitter of carbon dioxide in the world, with about 2.8 billion tons, surpassed only by China and the United States." This statement in Lucy Rodgers' BBC report on the ecological footprint of concrete stands out as quite shocking. With more than 4 billion tonnes produced each year, cement accounts for around 8 percent of global CO2 emissions and is a key element in the production of concrete, the most manufactured product in the world. To give you an idea, about half a ton of concrete is produced per person in the world every year, enough to build 11,000 Empire State buildings. With these huge numbers, is there any way to reduce this impact?

5 Things to Consider When Designing a High-Performance Façade

Façade is one of the most important factors in certain building types, that can completely transform the occupant experience and the energy performance of the building. The Whole Building Design Guide showcases that the facade can have up to 40% impact on the total energy use of the building. In addition to the energy use, the facades also significantly impact the occupant productivity withing a building and, of course, the appearance of the building. There are many factors that go into creating a high-performance façade. In this article, we outline the top 5 things a design team should consider.

Construction Begins on BIG's CityWave Urban Regeneration Project in Milan

Work on Bjarke Ingels Group's gateway for Milan's CityLife district has officially commenced. The new-generation office building marks the completion of the CityLife area in the Italian city, an urban regeneration project that has been restored to provide a livable environment characterized by sustainability, improved quality of life, and all-inclusive services. The structure is set to "stand as a new paradigm for the offices of the future, as the outcome of a new idea of workplace based on innovative design solutions that put quality of life at the center and redefine the concept of sustainability".

© B&TBCourtesy of BIG - Bjark Ingels GroupCourtesy of BIG - Bjark Ingels GroupCourtesy of BIG - Bjark Ingels Group+ 19

Aedas Reveals Mixed-Use Urban Development in Shenzhen

Aedas has unveiled Shenzhen C FutureCity, a two-phase project in Futian's Shangsha Village, Shenzhen. The design highlights how we "converse with the future and render a unique shopping experience that advances the development of the city" by creating an urban lifestyle center nestled between residential and corporate towers.

Courtesy of AedasCourtesy of AedasCourtesy of AedasCourtesy of Aedas+ 15

Will Refurbishment be the Architectural Specialization of the Future?

The choice of Lacaton & Vassal to receive the 2021 Pritzker Prize was, above all, emblematic. Under the mantra “never demolish, never remove or replace, always add, transform and reuse”, the French duo built a career focused on renovating buildings, providing them with spatial quality, efficiency and new programs. Their approach contrasts with most of the architecture we are used to honoring: iconic, imposing and grandiose works. It also contrasts with the notion of the tabula rasa, of building and rebuilding from scratch, so well represented in Le Corbusier's Ville Radieuse, and which has fascinated architects and urban planners ever since.

Whether because of the sustainability demands currently in vogue, or simply because there are already enough buildings around the world, the task of rehabilitating spaces and buildings has been seen as an important driver of change. The focus is generally to center efforts on interior spaces, paying special attention to the environmental quality and comfort of the inhabitants, in addition to adapting the uses to contemporary demands. The main question revolves around how to update (and even automate) the buildings of the past to adapt to new needs for efficiency, sustainability and well-being.

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.

Taking advantage of abundant resources and local labor are key concepts for sustainable architecture, which are often overlooked at the expense of solutions replicated from other contexts. With new demands and technologies, the globalization of building materials and construction techniques, is there still room for local materials? More specifically in relation to 3D printed constructions, are we destined to erect them only in concrete?