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Call For Submissions: The AJ Specification Awards

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Call For Submissions: The AJ Specification Awards, AJ Specification Awards logo
AJ Specification Awards logo

Introducing the new AJ Specification Awards

When great products meet great design...

The Architects’ Journal’s new AJ Specification Awards celebrates successful collaborations between suppliers, manufacturers, and architects.

The awards celebrate how exceptional working relationships between architects and suppliers and manufacturers lead to successful projects, showcasing standout examples of the creative use of products and materials in making great buildings.

Be it to find solutions to particular design challenge, or simply to bring joy to a project, the intelligent integration of products into the design process – from the taps in a bathroom to the finishes on a façade – is an aspect of architecture that the AJ has long championed.

6 Spanish Projects That Creatively Use Louvers and Shutters in Their Facades

08:00 - 29 August, 2018
 6 Spanish Projects That Creatively Use Louvers and Shutters in Their Facades, Cortesía de Gradhermetic
Cortesía de Gradhermetic

During warm summer months, buildings must maintain an adequate and comfortable temperature for the users of the space. Blinds or solar screens are an effective solution in projects that have large glazed surfaces, thus reducing the temperatures generated by direct sunlight.

Below, we have selected 6 Spanish projects that creatively use louvers and shutters in their facades. 

Ampliación del Hospital de Sabadell / Estudi PSP Arquitectura. Image © Jordi Canosa i Blajot Escuela Secundaria Honoré de Balzac / NBJ architectes. Image © Photoarchitecture Campus Universitario y Parque Científico-Tecnológico / CANVAS Arquitectos. Image Cortesía de CANVAS Arquitectos Campus Diagonal / Enrique Batlle i Durany y Joan Roig i Durán. Image Cortesía de Gradhermetic + 17

17 Spectacular Living Roofs in Detail

13:30 - 28 August, 2018
17 Spectacular Living Roofs in Detail, © José Hevia
© José Hevia

In Le Corbusier's 5 points of architecture, he advocates the inclusion of flat roofs hosting roof gardens, providing valuable outdoor space for the inhabitants of the building in order to replace the ground lost to the construction of the building. But while this acknowledgement of outdoor space was important for people, Le Corbusier's sculptural concrete roof gardens were little consolation to the non-human flora and fauna that were displaced by his works.

Recent improvements in our understanding of ecosystems and the environment, as well as a better scientific understanding of the needs of plants, have changed this dramatically. In the past few decades, green roofs and living roofs have exploded in popularity, and now adorn every kind of building--from small private houses to the gigantic surface of Barclay's Center in Brooklyn.

We've collected together some excellent examples of these living roofs, including the structural detailing that makes them possible. Read on for 17 spectacular green roofs that achieve environmental benefits including reduced stormwater runoff, and reductions in energy use and the heat island effect.

© Pedro Lobo © Hiroyuki Oki © Luis Alonso © Cortesía de Alarcón + Asociados + 41

Energy Harvesting: Charge Your Car in 3 Hours at This Solar Powered Electric Station

06:00 - 26 August, 2018
Energy Harvesting: Charge Your Car in 3 Hours at This Solar Powered Electric Station, Courtesy of MDT-Tex
Courtesy of MDT-Tex

In recent years, solar energy has become a very popular method to power electric vehicles. This emerging technology has motivated the development of new architectural typologies. An evident evolution of traditional gas stations, it could be foreseen that solar-powered charging stations will begin to significantly grow in numbers in our cities in both public and private spaces.

Tips For Using Concrete in Architecture

08:00 - 21 August, 2018
Tips For Using Concrete in Architecture, <a href=''>© via Flickr Fernando Stankuns </a> Licença CC BY-NC-SA 2.0. ImageFAUUSP / Vilanova Artigas
© via Flickr Fernando Stankuns Licença CC BY-NC-SA 2.0. ImageFAUUSP / Vilanova Artigas

In the eyes of an architect, concrete is practically a fetish. Currently, it's used in a wide range of projects and buildings, from infrastructure to residential, and offers an architect a great deal of freedom in generating eye-catching results. To start, we will show you how to pre-dimension concrete structures and understand what cracks in concrete structures mean. Continue reading to get our tips on how to use concrete and get the best result possible.

Brick Walls: Tips on Treatment and Maintenance

08:00 - 15 August, 2018
Brick Walls: Tips on Treatment and Maintenance , <a href=''>Casa Ladrillo / AZL architects</a>. Image © Iwan Baan
Casa Ladrillo / AZL architects. Image © Iwan Baan

Bricks have historically been the cornerstone of a wide array of living spaces, providing everything from enclosure and protection to the framework for letting in sunlight. Whether it be for their economic or aesthetic aspects in both color and texture, the use of brick can be glimpsed in cities the world over. 

In spite of its practicality and widespread use, brick does present a challenge for architects and builders. Everything from humidity, wind, sun, mold, and time leaves its mark on brick, gradually wearing down its practical and aesthetic properties.

But fear not, in the following article we'll give you our tips on how to best treat and care for brick.

Diffused Light: How to Design 'Lantern Buildings' With Self-Supporting Glass Walls

05:30 - 10 August, 2018
Diffused Light: How to Design 'Lantern Buildings' With Self-Supporting Glass Walls, The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art / Steven Holl Architects. Image © Andy Ryan
The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art / Steven Holl Architects. Image © Andy Ryan

Recurrently we see how architects opt for translucent facades to create the envelopes of their buildings, promoting the entry of a large amount of natural light, while simultaneously controlling it during the day. Illuminated during the night, many of these projects can be seen in the dark, appearing as lanterns or lighthouses for their neighbors and community. Being exposed to changing conditions – day or night – to choose the right material, it's necessary to study in detail the orientation and location of the building, the pre-existing context, and the configuration of the interior spaces.

We present a system of glass panels that allow buildings with this type of façade –spanning from floor to ceiling without interruptions – with minimal frames and different colors, textures, thermal and acoustic performances. 

The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art / Steven Holl Architects. Image © Andy Ryan C-Glass House / Deegan Day Design. Image © Taiyo Watanabe Magnolia Mound Visitors Center / Trahan Architects. Image © Timothy Hursley Nelson Atkins Museum of Art / Steven Holl. Image Cortesía de Bendheim + 28

These CNC Prototypes Were 3-D Mapped From Natural Forms

08:00 - 2 August, 2018
Ishi Kiri / Fasetto. Image Courtesy of Anoma
Ishi Kiri / Fasetto. Image Courtesy of Anoma

Anoma, headed by EDIDA-winning Indian artist Ruchika Grover, is a product design studio that explores the potential of natural stone. Its surfaces, sculptures, and installations, are created through a unique process, which combines digital manufacturing and traditional hand craftsmanship.

Ishi Kiri / Haibu. Image Courtesy of Anoma The breathing surfaces / Raza. Image Courtesy of Anoma Foliage / Monstera. Image Courtesy of Anoma Kinetic #07. Image Courtesy of Anoma + 23

Updating Antiquity: Using Modular Concrete to Create New Compositions

08:00 - 1 August, 2018
Updating Antiquity: Using Modular Concrete to Create New Compositions, © Madhava Kalmar
© Madhava Kalmar

Inspired by two of the oldest techniques in architecture, fluting, and reeding, Brooklyn-based GRT Architects have developed a series of modular concrete pieces that update the Greek tradition, varying its classic composition.

© Madhava Kalmar © Madhava Kalmar © Madhava Kalmar © Madhava Kalmar + 13

How to Calculate the Thermal Transmittance (U-Value) in the Envelope of a Building

08:00 - 29 July, 2018
© ArchDaily
© ArchDaily

When designing the envelope of projects, we must pay special attention to each of the elements that comprise it, since each of these layers has specific qualities that will be decisive in the thermal behavior of our building as a whole. 

If we divide 1 m2 of our envelope by the temperature difference between its faces, we will obtain a value that corresponds to the thermal transmittance, also called U-Value. This value tells us a building's level of thermal insulation in relation to the percentage of energy that passes through it; if the resulting number is low we will have a well-isolated surface and, on the contrary, a high number alerts us of a thermally deficient surface.

10 Unconventional Plywood Projects That Show The Bright Future of 20th Century Materials

08:00 - 27 July, 2018
Courtesy of PRODUCE Workshop
Courtesy of PRODUCE Workshop

Sold in standard 4 foot wide sheets since 1928, plywood has been a staple of conventional construction for nearly a century. Dimensionally strong, easily cut, lightweight and capable of creating an effective barrier, plywood and other engineered panels like OSB, particle board, and MDF is ubiquitous, particularly for their use as sheathing material in balloon and timber frame construction systems. Boats, airplanes and even automobile frames have historically been built out of plywood, predating (or replacing) steel, aluminum, and fiberglass. As a simple material capable of being manipulated and shaped in a wide variety of ways, sheet ply was also favored in furniture and architectural designs by modernists including Charles and Ray Eames, Eero Saarinen, Alvar Aalto, and Marcel Breuer.

Courtesy of Pablo Esteban Zamorano Courtesy of AREA and Electrotexture Lab © Rien van Rijthoven © Rien van Rijthoven + 27

Brutalism & Skateboarding: J. Byron-H's Unique Furniture Inspired by An Odd Pairing

06:00 - 23 July, 2018
Brutalism & Skateboarding: J. Byron-H's Unique Furniture Inspired by An Odd Pairing, © Samuel McGuire
© Samuel McGuire

Architects and designers are turning into their very own version of Midas, everything they touch turns into concrete. With products like concrete coffee machines, concrete garden gnomes, and even concrete jewelry, designers are finding remarkable ways of experimenting with the material, proving that concrete is a lot more than just a bulky, building component.

Los Angeles based architect-designer J.Byron-H, known for his playfulness with material and unexpected forms, have experimented with concrete and glass-fiber and created contemporary, light-weight pieces of furniture, inspired by skateboards and architectural brutalism.

© Samuel McGuire © Samuel McGuire © Samuel McGuire Courtesy of J. Byron-H + 40

How to Install Wood Laminate Flooring Without Any Tools

10:59 - 13 July, 2018

The installation of wood laminate flooring may seem basic or even alien to what we do as architectural designers, but that should not be the case. When we understand the characteristics of the materials we specify and their assembly processes, we can design in a more efficient manner, adjusting our proposals to the requirements of the project.

With this in mind, below we present a step-by-step assembly process for EGGER's  UNI fit wood laminate flooring—a type of flooring that sits above the slab and does not require the use of screws or glue. The elements of this system join together with "click" system, allowing the installed floor to sit freely over what is below it.

Cortesía de Egger Cortesía de Egger Cortesía de Egger Cortesía de Egger + 11

This Retractable Bamboo Yurt Can Be Easily Transported and Installed

06:00 - 10 July, 2018
This Retractable Bamboo Yurt Can Be Easily Transported and Installed , © Tommaso Riva
© Tommaso Riva

Tradition and innovation. Those are the two pillars within which Bamboo U's workshop’s creative pendulum strives to swing. Following the practice of ancient Mongolian yurts, participants of Bamboo U, a build and design course in Bali, have created a bamboo yurt which can fold like an umbrella and can be deployed in an instant. Under the guidance of the German master-builder Jörg Stamm, students built the first retractable yurt prototype in Bali during Bamboo U’s last edition in April.

Sombra Verde's 3D Printed Bamboo Structure Bridges the Gap Between Tradition and Technology

08:00 - 9 July, 2018
© Carlos Bañón
© Carlos Bañón

Bridging the gap between the old and the new is never easy. Traditional building methods, where you often adjust to the unpredictability of a natural material, seem to contrast with the mechanical precision of modern construction. Sombra Verde - a bamboo gazebo developed by AIRLAB and Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD) as part of Singapore’s Urban Design Festival 2018 - bridges this gap. The traditional raw bamboo poles, used extensively throughout Southeast Asia, are combined with 3D printed connectors, utilizing a series of new technologies. The result is an iconic, lightweight structure in Singapore’s Duxton Plain Park that promotes the use of public space, sheltering the population from both the intense sun and heavy rain.

© Carlos Bañón © Aurelia Chan © Carlos Bañón © Aurelia Chan + 24

How To Determine How Many LED Lumens You’ll Need To Properly Light Your Space

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How To Determine How Many LED Lumens You’ll Need To Properly Light Your Space, Photo by Studio Millspace
Photo by Studio Millspace

What is enough light? The question is difficult enough but when faced with having to calculate how much LED lighting you need to create a well-lit space, it can become a bit more complicated.

Whether it’s architectural LED lighting for commercial applications or residential applications, here’s how to determine how many LED Lumens you’ll need to properly light your space.

Design an Efficient Kitchen by Downloading These BIM Objects

08:00 - 1 July, 2018

The requirements for the use of BIM files in architectural projects are getting increasingly stricter. Currently, there are mandates that will require the use of these tools for the development of public projects. It is also likely that these norms will also be replicated in private projects.

Earlier this year, we published the guide 'How to Correctly Design and Build a Kitchen;' today, we present the second installment on how to use the BIM format to design the kitchen of your project quickly and efficiently. The modules are part of a library of elements which can be varied in a large number of formats and styles through the different models of Melamine boards.

The advantage of applying these modules is dependent on your design. You must consider the best possible optimization of a board, avoiding waste of material and money, and reducing the problems when building each piece of furniture.

What is CI and How to Design a Continuous Insulation System

08:00 - 26 June, 2018
Courtesy of STO
Courtesy of STO

CI (Continuous Insulation System) is an insulated facade system for walls and ventilated slabs that works through the superposition of 5 skins: fixation, insulation, waterproofing (open to the diffusion of the vapor and resistant to impact), and an outer cladding layer.

How are these components installed, and how do they work? Is it a system for new projects or can it be incorporated into existing buildings (retrofit)? How to design an CI correctly for my architecture project? Find these and other answers, below.