It’s here! The 21st-century digital renaissance has just churned out its latest debutante, and its swanky, sensational entrance has sent the world into an awed hysteria. Now sashaying effortlessly into the discipline of architecture, glittering with the promise of being immaculate, revolutionary, and invincible: ChatGPT. OpenAI’s latest chatbot has been received with a frenzied reception that feels all too familiar, almost a déjà vu of sorts. The reason is this: Every time any technological innovation so much as peeks over the horizon of architecture, it is immediately shoved under a blinding spotlight and touted as the “next big thing.” Even before it has been understood, absorbed, or ratified, the idea has already garnered a horde of those who vouch for it, and an even bigger horde of those who don’t. Today, as everyone buckles up to be swept into the deluge of a new breakthrough, we turn an introspective gaze, unpacking where technology has led us, and what more lies in store.
BIG has partnered with experimental clothing brand Vollebak to create the vision for a self-sufficient off-grid island in Nova Scotia, Canada. The 11-acre Vollebak Island will receive several pavilions built of natural and innovative materials such as seaweed, hempcrete, and 3D-printed concrete, all powered by carbon-neutral energy. The island, located in Jeddore Harbor, one quarter off the Nova Scotia mainland, will be auctioned via Sotheby’s Concierge Auctions beginning June 8. Bidders will vie for the chance to own the island and to be granted exclusive rights to the design vision, including the planning permission for those designs.
Finding effective and valuable solutions for agricultural waste management has been an inspiring challenge for researchers. By-products from monocultures, such as residues from soybean production, corn cobs, straw, sunflower seeds, and cellulose, are often destined for soil composting, used as animal feed, or even converted into energy in order to reduce waste and mitigate the environmental impacts associated with agricultural activities. Sugarcane production, for example, generates a significant amount of by-products, totaling about 600 million tons of bagasse fiber waste from an annual production of two billion tons of sugarcane. This by-product has a promising potential to replace energy-intensive building systems, such as concrete and brick, by providing building materials that combine sustainability and structural efficiency.
With this perspective in mind, the University of East London (UEL), in partnership with Grimshaw Architects and manufacturer Tate & Lyle Sugar, has developed an innovative building material called Sugarcrete™. The aim of the project is to explore sustainable building solutions by recycling biological by-products from sugarcane, which in turn reduces carbon emissions in the construction industry – all while prioritizing social and environmental sustainability during the production and implementation of these building materials.
Harnessing the power of moldless manufacturing through large-scale robotic 3D printing, research at ETH Zürich in collaboration with FenX AG delves into the use of cement-free mineral foam made from recycled waste. The objective is to build wall systems that are monolithic, lightweight, and immediately insulated, minimizing material use, labor requirements, and associated costs.
Towers, walkways, decks, cabins and tree houses. Since 2010, the Hello Wood Festival has erected dozens of temporary constructions, with one common denominator: wood. The initiative aims to make knowledge about this material more accessible to everyone, as it has immense potential for the future. However, despite its potential, wood still faces various prejudices within the construction industry. Through the connection between designers and artists from different cultural, academic and professional backgrounds, the event uses construction as a platform for innovation, discussion and knowledge. It offers participants the unique opportunity to experiment with sustainable design and construction methods, encouraging learning through experience, held in a forested area near Budapest, Hungary.
Chiesi Group, a pharmaceutical company that focuses on research-based innovation, has prioritized the health of patients across all age groups for over 85 years. Seeking the development of the next healthcare landmark for innovation, they launchedRestore to Impact, an international call for entries to redesign the historic industrial site in Via Palermo, Parma.
Open to two categories –Professionals and Under 30s– the competition aims to find innovative, evolutionary and transversal proposals that will be the basis for the guidelines of the future architectural building project. The winning proposals for the three eligible concepts for the professional category will receive € 12,000 each, while the Under 30 category will receive € 5,000 each.
Fueled by pressing issues such as the climate crisis, population density and rapid urbanization, the built environment has become increasingly complex. Architecture and design professionals are faced with a challenging, yet fundamental task: to translate society’s ever-evolving needs into tangible and future-oriented solutions. In pursuit of this goal, they must embrace the countless tools, materials and technologies emerging every day in the construction field –from AI to virtual reality software and smart home systems. After all, to remain at the forefront in an industry where change is the norm, the ability to adapt and evolve is crucial for success.
The United Nations estimates that the world population will reach 10.4 billion by 2100. Already by 2050, 2 out of 3 people will call cities home, coming in search of the opportunities, services and amenities on offer. That puts even more pressure on urban areas given all these people will need access to water, food, public space, good infrastructure and, above all, housing. In fact, estimates suggest more than two billion homes will need to be built by the end of the 21st century to accommodate this population explosion. As cities grow, so does urban sprawl, which brings its own set of environmental and social challenges. In the face of climate change, sustainable urban development must ensure that future housing solutions –new and renovated– are built to support healthy communities, prioritizing both human and environmental well-being. In turn, cities will need to be built denser and faster, but not without meeting a long list of stringent criteria. Only this way can we avoid the negative, often overlooked, effects of uncontrolled hyper densification that give urban development a bad name.
The construction industry is one of the largest in the world, and cement and concrete are literally the building blocks of its success. Evolving from prehistoric caves to today’s towering skyscrapers, concrete structures have and will continue to be vital components of modern civilization, providing long-lasting, reliable support for buildings, roads, bridges, tunnels and dams. So much so that concrete is the most consumed material on Earth, second only to water, while the steel used to reinforce it is by far the most commonly used metal. But this doesn’t come without high environmental costs: concrete accounts for 8% of global CO2 emissions, much of which come from the extraction and transportation of aggregate materials such as sand, gravel and crushed stone.
In October, the ArchDaily team spoke with Henry Glogau during his stay in London, where he was working on a number of projects. At only 26 years old, his resume includes an impressive amount of international awards, which he has received for the relevance of his work to issues both so basic and urgent for humanity: access to potable water, sanitation and quality of life. Born in New Zealand, Henry moved to Copenhagen in 2018 to study at the Royal Danish Academy and for the past two years has been working at the 3XN GXN office as an architect in their innovation unit, alongside a multidisciplinary team. Below, read the conversation we had about some of his projects, his beliefs about the role of architecture, and his views on our responsibility to the planet.
Sodium chloride, most commonly known as salt, is everywhere. Ancient in its uses and abundant in nature, it preserves local ecosystems, de-ices roads, is vital in a variety of industrial processes, and is likely sitting on your kitchen table as a seasoning for your meals. Today, it is attributed relatively little value –considering it used to be as worthy as gold–, and unlike other nature-derived alternatives such as algae or mycelium, there doesn’t seem to be enough research and interest around all of its physical, mechanical or aesthetic properties. And yet it is a material with infinite, extraordinary potential. Apart from its life-supporting qualities, salt is affordable, easily available, antibacterial, resistant to fire, can store humidity and heat, and is great at reflecting and diffusing light.
URB to develop the world's largest agritourism destination in Dubai, providing food security and to foster sustainability of the local communities, heritage, and cultural landscapes. In line with the city's ambition of making its rural areas restorative land facilities, "Agri Hub" targets to create 10,000 new jobs across various sectors, including a new agricultural research institute and a public farm for educational and retail purposes.
From smartphones to space rockets and self-driving cars, the power of technology in this modern digital era is enormous (and practically limitless). It has impacted every aspect of our lives and will continue to open up endless possibilities that today we cannot even begin to fathom. When applied in a socially and environmentally responsible way, technology has the power to enhance productivity, communication and sustainability, enabling global communities to function efficiently, addressing people’s everyday needs and improving their quality of life. Simply put, good technology serves humanity. And just as the healthcare or manufacturing industries have taken advantage of this, the architecture, design and construction world cannot fall behind.
A new urban tech district is planned for the Creekside of Al Jaddaf area in Dubai. Developed by URB, the district aims to generate over four thousand jobs in urban technologies, education, and training, while also welcoming entrepreneurs to encourage a collaborative tech ecosystem. The district will provide facilities for training, research, conferences, business incubations, shared-desk spaces, and dedicated offices. It will also be home to an urban tech institute, which hopes to drive innovation by investing in applied research and by enabling public-private partnerships.
Since the 1980’s, 3D-printing has offered new ways of developing architecture, engineering, and objects of daily use. When it comes to digitizing analogue processes, it is vital for users to become familiar with current tech innovations and their benefits. HIVE Project reshapes the art and craft of building in clay by combining traditional ceramics, smart geometry, and robotic precision to construct a masonry wall composed of one hundred seventy-five unique 3D-printed clay bricks.
Standing at 78 meters tall, the Museum of the Future (MOTF) is far from reaching Dubai’s famous skyline, which features skyscrapers like the unparalleled Burj Khalifa – the world’s tallest tower. However, with its bold shape and striking façade illuminated by more than 14,000 meters of Arabic calligraphy, it certainly succeeds in taking its place among the city’s most iconic buildings. The award-winning project by Killa Design and Buro Happold, described by many as ‘the most beautiful building in the world’, opened in February of 2022 in Dubai’s Financial District. In a total built up area of 30,000 sqm, it accommodates exhibition spaces for innovative ideologies, services, and products, as well as theater spaces, a laboratory, and a research center.