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Digital Fabrication: The Latest Architecture and News

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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Le Corbusier's Enduring Spirit: Celebrating 100 Years of Architectural Influence

One hundred years ago, in 1923, Le Corbusier’s “Vers une Architecture” was published in the magazine “L’Esprit Nouveau.” The controversial collection of essays authored by the Modernist master served as a manifesto for the development of modern architecture, influencing generations of architects and sparking polemics on the proposed principles of architectural design. The book advocates for the beauty of streamlined industrial designs, like those of airplanes, automobiles or ocean liners; it proposes a completely different way of building cities, favoring tall and slender towers surrounded by abundant greenery, and introduces Le Corbusier’s 5 principles for modern design.

Now, a century later, these theories have become part of every architect’s education, but they are also highly contested. Some critics argue that the rigid approach, especially in relation to urban planning principles, fails to engage the cultural and contextual nuances of different communities, leading to alienating urban environments. Still, the legacy of Le Corbusier is significant, serving as a constant point of reference for architects when exploring the balance between functionality, aesthetics, symbolism and the social impact of their designs.

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What Role Do Materials and Construction Systems Play in Democratizing Architecture?

“Architecture does not change anything. It’s always on the side of the wealthy.” With these words, Oscar Niemeyer referred to architecture as being a privilege mostly destined to the upper class – a statement that has historically proven to be true, even as some would like to deny it. Today, only 2% of all houses around the world are designed by architects. This is largely due to the fact that, to the average consumer, architect-designed homes continue to be perceived as expensive and esoteric products available only to this select few; a luxury that many cannot fathom to afford, especially as housing prices rise. Ultimately, this makes good design inaccessible for certain segments, forcing them to settle for precarious living conditions in standardized spaces that fail to take their needs into account (that is, if they even have access to housing).

ETH Zurich’s HiLo Unit Raises the Bar for Sustainable Concrete Design

Dübendorf, Switzerland is something of hallowed ground for architectural technologists. There, on the shared academic campus of the Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology and the Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology, public university ETH Zurich has conducted nearly a decade of engineering and construction experimentation at the ever-evolving NEST research building. In August, ETH Zürich unveiled its latest extension of the building, HiLo (short for high performance-low emissions)—a two-story modular addition to the chameleon structure that harnesses medieval building principles and contemporary digital methods to raise the bar for more sustainable applications of concrete.

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.

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Digital Woodworking: Creating Structures, Furniture, and Surfaces Using CNC

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The automation of architectural design and rendering has been further accelerated by digital production tools. Tools such as 3D printers, assembly robots, and laser cutters, have all but perfected the design and construction process and have proven essential in optimizing resources, improving precision, and increasing control of the process.

In woodworking, the most frequently used digital production tools are milling machines or CNC (computer numerical control) routers. These tools facilitate the rendering of 2D vectoral drawings and 3D models, codifying them into instructions for the machine to follow and execute. Through this process, which starts with digital archives (typically created using design software widely known as AutoCad), milling machines and CNC routers can rapidly and precisely cut wood, producing ready to assemble pieces.

Design with Digital Technology: 3D Printing Opens New Possibilities in China

3D printing (as known as three-dimensional printing) is a type of rapid prototyping technology. It is a technology that uses powdered metal or plastic and other bondable materials to construct objects by printing layer by layer based on digital model files.

Automating the Construction Site

For several years, the construction sector has been facing a labour shortage, generating a growing interest in automation. The health crisis has only exacerbated the trend, prompting automation companies to turn their focus from car manufacturing to the construction industry, for which automation is expected to grow up to 30% within the next few years. The following explores present capabilities and future possibilities of automation within the construction process, its integration within the mainstream practice and the impact on design.

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Round Houses of Raw Earth: 3D Printing Sustainable Homes in 200 Hours

A recent collaboration between the team of Mario Cucinella Architects (MC A) and WASP, specialists in 3D Printing in Italy, has resulted in the first 3D-printed construction of a fully natural, recyclable, and carbon-neutral material: raw earth. The circular housing prototype is called TECLA and it was built in Massa Lombarda (Ravenna, Italy) using multiple 3D printers synchronized to work at the same time.

The Future of Universities, Offices and Cities: Highlights From Digital Futures 2020

Like most functions in recent months, this year’s Digital FUTURES, which is held annually since 2011 at Tongji University in Shanghai, had to move online due to the pandemic. The organizers took this as an opportunity to give the event a global dimension, turning the festival into what they rightfully call the most significant worldwide event for architectural education ever staged, with a 24/7 display of workshops, lectures and panel discussions involving some of the most prominent architects and educators. Here is an overview of the festival, together with a selection of lectures from Digital FUTURES World.