The global climate crisis is not only forcing us to rethink architectural design and the way we live, but also the materials and products that shape our built environment, starting from its origins and manufacture. Toward this end, wood has become an efficient alternative to steel and concrete – materials with high levels of embodied energy – and has led to some important architectural innovations that may culminate in its more widespread use worldwide.
Rammed earth has been used in construction for thousands of years, with evidence of its use dating as far back as the Neolithic Period. Commonly used especially in China, the technique was applied to both ancient monuments and vernacular architecture, with the Great Wall utilizing the technique. Though interest in rammed earth declined in the 20th century, some continue to advocate its use today, citing its sustainability in comparison to more modern construction methods. Most notably, rammed earth structures use local materials, meaning they have low embodied energy and produce little waste. Below, we describe how to build with this material.
According to data from CRED (Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters) and UNISDR (UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction), in a report released in 2016, the number of disasters related to the climate change has duplicated in the last forty years. The need for temporary shelters for homeless people is, as well as an effect of the climate crisis, is also one of the consequences of the disorderly growth of cities, which leads to a significant part of the world population living in vulnerable conditions due to disasters.
As the climate crisis continues to unfold, professionals in architecture, engineering, and sustainable design have relentlessly searched for new ways to mitigate the negative effects of modern industrial production. One group of such innovators, Zero Mass Water, have contributed to this effort through their creation of ‘the world’s first and only hydropanel’ - an apparatus called SOURCE.
The use of steel in both the past and present is mainly associated with the success of grand industrial and civic structures. But due to the commercialization and standardization of steel profiles, its use in residential projects (thanks to its mechanical properties and fast installation) has resulted in complex and interesting solutions on a domestic scale.
We may not give them the importance they deserve, but toilets are fundamental to our daily lives and our health. There are two "golden rules" that articulate their usefulness: they 'separate' us immediately from our waste, and they transport them for treatment, preventing them from contaminating the environment or making people sick.
In addition to being a good place to think about new ideas, browse Instagram, and answer emails, the toilet helps us stay healthy, an attribute we take for granted until we lose access to it.
While technology and construction have progressed rapidly in recent years, allowing structures to be built taller and faster than ever, remnants of colossal ancient monuments remind us that construction techniques from as long as hundreds of years ago had enormous merit as well. In fact, many of the innovations of antiquity serve as foundations of modern construction, with the Roman invention of concrete serving as a cogent example. Other essential ancient construction techniques, such as the arch and the dome, are now often considered stylistic flourishes, with designs like the Met Opera House reinterpreting classical typologies in a modern context. Yet perhaps the most relevant reinterpretations of ancient construction today are those that do so in the interest of sustainability, renouncing high-energy modern construction methods in favor of older, more natural techniques.
Unfortunately, we've probably all experienced the unfortunate surprise of finding mold at home. These undesirable black and greenish spots, usually seen in dark, damp corners, may seem harmless at first, but they pose a major problem for buildings and occupants. Because the tendency of mold is to continuously spread, it gradually contaminates other materials and surfaces, causing a characteristic smell and contaminating the air. But how is it possible to control it and, mainly, to prevent it from occurring through architectural design?
Coming from the Byzantine Era, originally used for decorating floors and walls, the hydraulic tile is a material still widely used for the coating of architectural surfaces. With versatility in patterns, composition, colors, it is water-resistant and can be installed onto various surfaces, like countertops, panels, and furniture. Going beyond thoу commonly used ones, this material still shows excellent results in projects, both residential and commercial. With that in mind, we have compiled a selection to inspire you for your next works. Check it out below:
With the amount of information and technology we currently have, whether from academic research or from the manufacturers of construction products themselves, there is very little room for empiricism and experimentation when we design on the most diverse scales. Even worse is when design specification misconceptions can pose huge costs and headaches. However, long before construction and occupancy of the building, it is possible to clearly understand how the construction will function thermally, its photovoltaic power generation capacity, and even how much power will be required to cool and/or heat it. There are software, tools and applications that allow you to quantify all these design decisions to avoid errors, extra costs, unnecessary waste generation, and ensure the efficiency of all materials applied.
Currently, there are a multitude of pavements in the market, each with different characteristics. When designing a public space, it is essential to ask the right questions regarding requirements and functions to determine the right material for the job. To begin: Where will the pavement be installed? (Will it be protected, exposed, wet, or damp?). What level of traffic will it experience? (Light, moderate, or high?). What type of traffic will it experience? (Pedestrians, bicycles, light vehicles, or heavy vehicles?). What other factors should be considered based on preexisting conditions?
From these questions, it is possible to draw a more precise and effective profile of the "abrasion resistance" of the pavement, an important factor to guarantee the durability and efficiency of the material. Then, the aesthetic, functional, economic, and sustainable factors may be added.
The history of timber construction stretches back as far as the Neolithic period, or potentially even earlier, when humans first began using wood to build shelters from the elements. The appearance of the first polished stone tools, such as knives and axes, then made wood handling more efficient and precise, increasing the thickness of wood sections and their resistance. Over the decades, the rustic appearance of these early constructions became increasingly orthogonal and clean, as a result of standardization, mass production, and the emergence of new styles and aesthetics.
Michelangelo's sculptures. The ancient Greek temples. Castle interiors and palaces. The iconic Barcelona Pavilion of Mies van der Rohe. When we approach the history of architecture and sculpture, it is inevitable that we speak of marble. Originating from a chemical reaction in limestone when exposed to high pressures and temperatures for thousands of years, this notable material is a metamorphic rock generally found in regions where volcanic activity has occurred. Its extraction, by itself, is already a spectacle.
Indoor gardens can contribute important benefits to home living, ranging from aesthetic beauty to improved health and productivity. Research has shown that indoor plants help eliminate indoor air pollutants called Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) that emanate from adhesives, furnishings, clothing, and solvents, and are known to cause illnesses. They also increase subjective perceptions of concentration and satisfaction, as well as objective measures of productivity. Indoor gardens may even reduce energy use and costs because of the reduced need for air circulation. These benefits complement the obvious aesthetic advantages of a well-designed garden, making the indoor garden an attractive residential feature on several fronts.
Since time immemorial 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.
A facade must meet steep requirements as both the first skin that protects a building, its interiors, and its materials, and as the first thing a person sees. In addition to weather resistance and durability, its appearance is extremely vital for any architectural project. Prefabricated facade panels provide a clean, precise, and sophisticated finish to buildings and sport high versatility through different patterns and shapes.
Concrete is not purely a structural element. As we demonstrated in a recent article about kitchen projects using concrete countertops, the material is gaining significant traction in the world of residential furnishings and fixtures. To further exemplify this, we have curated a list of several projects that use concrete benches to create beautiful moments inside and outside the home.