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insulation: The Latest Architecture and News

From Lowering Embodied Carbon to Super-Slim Solutions: What Is the Future of Insulation?

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Insulation plays an essential role in today’s buildings—whether it is to provide thermal efficiency to reduce energy demand and cut carbon emissions, or to reduce noise transmission to provide acoustic comfort. Every building has different requirements for the type of insulation needed in floors, roofs, ceilings and walls, and to meet these varying demands Kingspan has developed a range of holistic insulation solutions fit for the future of the built environment.

From lower embodied carbon products to bio-based materials, reducing environmental impact is an area of increasing importance. Meanwhile, the pressing need to upgrade the thermal efficiency of existing buildings often demands insulation technologies that can work with existing structures without requiring excessive thickness. For cladding systems, reaction to fire can be every bit as important as thermal conductivity, and for acoustic panels that form part of the internal décor, aesthetics is as crucial as sound absorption.

World Habitat Awards 2024 Recognize Housing Initiatives that Empower Communities

International non-profit organization World Habitat, in partnership with UN-Habitat, has announced the World Habitat Awards 2024. The prizes strive to highlight projects that demonstrate novel and transformative approaches to housing that incorporate principles of climate change adaptation and community-driven solutions. This year, 8 projects have been selected, out of which 2 projects were recognized with the Gold World Habitat Award.

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Imagining the Future of Construction: From Bio-Based Materials to Innovative Data

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What insulation materials are needed to meet the challenges facing the modern built environment, including how to create a more sustainable future? What if some of them are already available? Kingspan’s dedicated innovation center, IKON, hosted a panel of experts to discuss some of the key issues and explore solutions. Michael Bol, an architect and Concepting Director at Buro Kade, Benjamin Constant, Director of Development and Partnerships at Neo-Eco Partner, and Sandra Del Bove, Kingspan Group Head of Innovation, each brought a different perspective and shared their experiences of these crucial issues.

A Glimpse into the Evolution of Insulation Materials in Architecture

Although more related to evolutionary aspects than to architecture itself, the inherent physical fragility of human beings has required, since prehistoric times, that we protect our bodies and our buildings from external elements. As an example, beginning with the primitive huts used in the earliest forms of domestic architecture, furs were employed as an exterior covering to restrict the flow of air and, consequently, regulate the interior environment.

Subsequently, we have observed an evolution that clearly shows advances in insulation techniques, going from vernacular materials such as adobe to an increase in the thickness of walls using stone or brick, finally reaching the cavity walls developed in the 19th century, which left a small air chamber between an exterior and an interior face of the wall. Its later popularization led to the introduction of insulation between both faces, a system that is widely recognized and used today and has laid the foundations for further developments in this field.

What Materials Can Promote Health in Interior Architecture?

Recent statistics suggest that if someone lives until they are 80, around 72 of those years will be spent inside buildings. This makes sense if we bear in mind that, when not at home, humans are working, learning or engaging in fun activities mostly in enclosed, built settings. Contemplating current events, however, this number is expected to grow. In an increasingly chaotic and uncertain world, marked by the ongoing effects of climate change and the global pandemic, the desire to stay indoors in a protected, controlled and peaceful environment is stronger than ever. Architects face an important challenge: to create comfortable, productive and healthy interiors with well-regulated parameters, considering factors like indoor air quality, daylighting and biophilic features from the initial stages of design. Of course, this involves choosing materials sensitively and accordingly, whether it be by avoiding certain health-harming components or by integrating non-toxic products that soothe and promote wellness.

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How to Use Alternative Products and Materials to Reduce a Project’s Carbon Footprint

Working within the restrictions of a limited carbon footprint can be one of the hardest – but also most rewarding – parts of a modern architect’s role. Whether to suit a large multinational corporation’s sustainability report, to achieve LEED status or similar for a commercial developer, or to build an eco-home for a climate-conscious private client – or even one who just wants to spend less on energy, it’s imperative to keep up-to-date with the latest carbon-neutral and low-carbon building practices and materials.

Whether looking at a project’s structural beginnings, its high-grade finishes, or thinking more holistically about its entire lifetime, there are huge gains to be made with sustainable substitutes and alternatives to traditional materials and techniques.

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3D Printing Lightweight, Insulated Walls Using Cement-Free Mineral Foam

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.

Glazed Façades and How They Protect Against Wind, Cold and Noise

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Higher noise emissions, higher wind loads and a desire for greater energy efficiency – the structural requirements for façades in multi-storey residential buildings and skyscrapers are becoming increasingly demanding, for both new builds and renovations. This is the result of the urban densification that is taking place in response to the acute lack of available housing and the more extreme weather conditions brought about by climate change. 

How Fire Protection Glass Can Save Lives without Compromising Design

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While glass is generally singled out as the weakest part of a building, it is not always true. With technological advances and the continuous innovations of the industry, there is glass that, even while allowing natural light to enter an environment, can protect the building from fire. Beyond fire, there are also other threats such as hot gases, smoke, and heat transmission, which put the safe evacuation of people and the protection of property at risk.

Solutions to Improve Acoustics in Your Home

We talk a lot about sound treatment for architecture but normally for new projects. In projects that are already built, either a rented apartment or small commercial space, we often have to deal with noises that we can't control, affecting our physical and mental health. In this article, we explore practical tips on how to manage and reduce these noises and improve the quality and atmosphere of these environments.

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How to Design for Optimal Thermal Comfort (And Why it Matters)

Have you ever found yourself losing a good night’s sleep due to an overly warm room? Or wearing four jackets and a scarf just to tolerate your office’s frigid air conditioning? Truth be told, you can’t please everyone when it comes to adjusting an indoor climate, and there is always that one unfortunate individual who ends up sacrificing their own comfort for the sake of others.

Evidently, there are no ‘universal standards’ or ‘recommended comfort ranges’ in designing building systems, since athletes training in a gym in Mexico will not feel comfortable in an interior with the same building systems of a nursing home in Denmark, for instance. Which is why, if we were to briefly define ‘thermal comfort’, it is the creation of building systems that are adapted to the local environment and functions of the space, cooperatively.

So how can we design for optimum thermal comfort?

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BBC Investigation Finds Grenfell Tower Insulation "Never Passed Fire Safety Test"

A BBC investigation has alleged that the insulation used in the refurbishment of London’s Grenfell Tower, which was tragically destroyed by fire in June 2017 with the loss of 72 people, never passed a fire safety test, and was unfit for use.

The BBC Panorama program, which aired on Monday night, concluded that the manufacturer Celotex “used extra fire retardant in the product that qualified for the safety certificate,” with the more flammable produce then sold for public use. According to the BBC, Celotex is yet to deny the program’s allegations.

Insulation Grown From Fungi

Inspired by the woods of Vermont, a US biotechnology startup have developed a system for using agricultural byproducts with fungal mycelium (a natural, self-assembling binder) to grow high performance insulation. Ecovative Mushroom® Insulation is seen as a viable competitor to plastic foams that can be found in both in packaging and building insulation, for which the project recently won second place in the Cradle to Cradle Product Innovation Challenge.

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