The façade is one of the most important elements in an architectural project. In addition to being the building's first barrier against heat, rain, snow, or wind, it also largely determines the appearance of a building. It can make the project stand out, blend into urban context, or even manifest, at first glance, values of transparency, lightness, or simplicity that the architect seeks to convey. Accordingly, the façade also constitutes a significant portion of the total cost of the work and, therefore, must be specified very carefully, taking into account aesthetics, functionality, maintenance, and long-term behavior.
In dystopian films, it is a common trope to depict the sky as filled with a thick fog, blocking the sun's rays and bringing a dark atmosphere to the scenes. Whether in Blade Runner or in a Black Mirror episode, the lack of sun commonly represents a future we would rather not live in. The sun provides heat to planet Earth and is a great source of light energy, essential for the survival of many living creatures. We can generate electricity from the sun and still use only a fraction of the energy it provides. Sunlight also regulates our circadian cycle, which affects our mood. But recent forest fires and industrial pollution in some large cities have already made the dystopian blockage of sun a relatively common phenomenon, depriving hours of sunshine from many inhabitants. Concurrently, with the COVID-19 pandemic, we are living a plot that few science fiction writers could have predicted, and new technologies and solutions have emerged to try to contain the spread of this invisible enemy. Can the sun, or specifically ultraviolet radiation, kill viruses and bacteria? Could it kill the coronavirus?
Somewhere between 1914 and 1915, Le Corbusier designed the Maison Dom-Ino, a groundbreaking modular structure that replaced the heavy load-bearing walls with reinforced concrete columns and slabs. The open floor plan with minimal thin elements, coupled with large glass facades, would ensure healthy natural daylight for the interior spaces as well as desirable architectural transparency that could blur the boundaries between interior and exterior —at least metaphorically.
Since immemorial time, humans have constructed their shelter and homes using wood. Gradually these structures grew more complex, but wood has continued to play a fundamental role in architecture and construction. Today, especially due to growing concerns about climate change and carbon emissions, wood has been regaining significance as an important building material for the future, if used consciously and sustainably. Wood’s structural performance capabilities make it appropriate for a broad range of applications—from the light-duty repetitive framing common in low and mid-rise structures to the larger and heavier, often hybrid systems, used to build arenas, offices, universities and other buildings where long spans and tall walls are required.
"And a window that looks out on Corcovado. Oh, how lovely." Tom Jobim's lyrics, immortalized by João Gilberto and Astrud Gilberto's voices and a soft guitar, was one of the early songs that introduced the world to the idea of a paradisaical Rio de Janeiro and a promising Brazil, with an increasingly urban population and a modern capital being built from nothing. Almost 60 years later, Paulo Mendes da Rocha casually quotes this song in an interview and points out that for him, in this scene, the most important element is the window, not Corcovado or Christ the Redeemer. That's because it frames the view and directs our eyes to what matters. It is a phrase that goes almost unnoticed, but that carries enormous poetic and artistic significance to the craft of architecture.
Responding to the challenge of designing a space for the launch of the Prada FW Menswear 2021 Collection by Miuccia Prada and Raf Simons, Rem Koolhaas and AMO have designed four connected geometric rooms that allow for the continuous circulation of the models showcasing their different garments. The general theme of the design centers sensory stimulation. Like the designs presented, the materials used and their distribution throughout the space speak of a more intimate connection with our surroundings, reminding us that fashion and architecture are more than just a functional container; they are an opportunity to actively excite and provoke our senses.
Polycarbonate has become an alluring alternative to glass in facades, as it has different levels of translucency and can provide optimal transmission and diffusion of light. Moreover, it is light, flexible, recyclable, durable, resistant to impact, and includes UV protection, in addition to resisting temperatures between -40°C and 115°C. But beyond its functional properties, this thermoplastic also provides wide-ranging aesthetic opportunities, allowing architects to create unusually dynamic and expressive facades.
In November of 2020, Foster + Partners announced a collaboration with the robotics design company Boston Dynamics. Together, the two have been testing Boston Dynamics’ robot dog, Spot, to help capture and monitor progress on construction sites. The robot boasts the dexterity to climb stairs, avoid obstacles, and traverse rough terrain, allowing it to monitor building sites and collect data quickly and easily. In this way, designers and contractors can remedy errors rapidly and at minimal cost, ensuring that projects progress according to their set timeframes and budgets. With manual data collection, errors might be noticed at a much slower rate and communication between contractors may suffer as well. Thus, Spot optimizes construction monitoring and on-site collaboration.
Last month, we looked at the 20 most-visited residential projects featured on ArchDaily during 2020. Spanning four continents and 15 countries, the styles and designs of these projects varied widely, and covered a wide range of different climates, visual contexts, and client needs. However, we noticed a commonality among a select few projects located primarily in Vietnam and Indonesia: the prevalence of hanging gardens and vines. Below, we look into this trend in more detail, discussing how it is used within these specific projects and more generally.
A single, continuous line unbroken by handle rotation: such was the simple, yet difficult-to-execute design concept motivating Zaha Hadid Design’s new innovative door handle. The result is a beautifully molded sculptural yet ergonomic design, playfully balancing form with function.
Little has been said about the contribution of scaffolding to the history of construction. These structures are generally treated as mere equipment and, as a result, their records are very scarce. Without scaffolding, however, it would be almost impossible to construct most of the buildings we know. Scaffolding allows workers to reach and move materials at difficult points in a construction, providing safety and comfort. But in addition to its role as a support structure for buildings, we have also seen that scaffolding can be used for mobile, temporary, and even permanent structures. Below, we explain its history and possibilities for use.