If a person were to imagine a setting of complete relaxation, odds are the first image that comes to mind is a place surrounded by nature, be it a forest, the mountains, the sea, or a meadow. Rarely does one imagine an office or a shopping mall as a source of comfort and relaxation. Still, the majority of people spend almost 80-90 % of their time indoors, going back and forth from their houses to their workplaces.
Every child has drawn a house. Perhaps a sunny day with some clouds, a leafy tree, a family with a dog, low wooden fences, or even a car. But in these drawings, they will almost certainly draw a simple rectangle with a gable or hip roof. This archetype of the house appears in virtually all cultures, and even today many architects use it for contemporary projects.
In the early modern period, Taoist monks cultivated Bonsai trees seeking to bring their beauty from the outside to the inside, considering them a link between the human and the divine. Likewise, in the 18th century, different tree-lined walks and avenues arose on the outskirts of some European cities, generating spaces for rest and socialization that were previously non-existent in cities at that time.
Now that we’re all spending much more time inside due to the pandemic, we’ve had a chance to truly understand and appreciate the significant impact that windows can have on a space. Views, sun angles, and orientation of windows are all important considerations when designing a new building - and as pleasant as it is to have a connection to the outdoors, windows can also cause issues like glare and heat gain. Of course no one wants a building with windows only on one side or to have the blinds shut constantly to be able to see their computer screen, so one versatile architectural solution is to shade windows using architectural wire mesh.
A building’s envelope is the first thing you notice - its defining feature, before even setting foot inside. While indisputably important, there’s much more going on than just aesthetics when designing one. There are unseen aspects and qualities that make the interior of the building safe and comfortable, which architects are constantly balancing with the visual appearance of the exterior.
If quarantine has brought something positive into the lives of many people around the world, it is the opportunity to change up our daily routines and dive into new activities that we did not have time or energy for beforehand. Learning and delving into topics that interest us or that are related to our work is one of them.
Cooking shows have never been more popular around the world than they are now. Whether from recipes, reality shows, or documentaries, writer Michael Pollan points out that it is not uncommon to spend more time watching than preparing our own food. This is a very curious phenomenon, as we can only imagine the tastes and smells on the other side of the screen, which the presenters often like to remind us. At the same time, when we watch something about the Middle Ages, polluted rivers, or nuclear disasters, we are relieved that there is no technology to transmit smells across the screen. In fact, when dealing with odors (more specifically the bad ones), we know how unpleasant it is to be in a space that doesn't smell good. When dealing with buildings, what are the main sources of bad smells and how can this affect our health and well-being?
Whether by traditional windows, linear openings in the wall, or skylights, the manipulation and incorporation of natural lighting in architectural projects can render a radical change in interior spaces.
In a time where space grows more and more limited and people increasingly spend time at home, flexibility presents itself as an underutilized strategy of interior design. With flexible furniture, residents can optimize square footage and easily reshape configurations according to specific requirements and shifting needs. Below, we discuss the benefits and variations of furniture on wheels, closing with 7 example projects illustrating their creative and practical application.
You probably see brick on a daily basis, whether it’s structuring a building, paving the road, or perhaps serving as a fireplace or chimney. But do all these applications use the same type of brick? How are the bricks supporting or being supported? What are these bricks actually made of? Brick’s versatility and ubiquitous nature mean there’s more than one answer to these questions. Even among brick’s most common applications as a building facade and/or structural wall material, there are a variety of types and construction methods employed.
This past June we published a survey called "How do Architects and Industry Professionals Specify Materials and Products”. The objective was to better understand architects’ behaviors and needs during the specification stage of their design processes.
The window is the architectural element that satisfies our innate need to relate to the outside space, providing us with ventilation and light. The more extensive and clean the window is, the greater the sensation of "being outside". Consequently, opening up spaces to the outside has become a common requirement for people who want and need to inhabit flexible, adaptable spaces, in contact with the air and nature. There are many ways to do this, but not all of them allow an airtight enclosure to become fully open and continuous, clearing the boundaries between both spaces.
Yuval Noah Harari points out that, around 300 thousand years ago, Homo erectus, Neanderthals, and ancestors of Homo sapiens already used fire daily. According to the author of the international bestseller “Sapiens,” fire created the first significant gap between man and other animals. "By domesticating fire, humans gained control of an obedient and potentially limitless force." Some scholars even believe that there is a direct relationship between the advent of the habit of cooking food (possibly due to the domestication of fire) and the shortening of the intestinal tract and growth of the human brain, which allowed human beings to develop and create everything we now have.
In the Historic Center of Olinda, a Brazilian municipality in the state of Pernambuco, architecture borrows shapes and colors from nature; cobogós perforations on the balconies look like round leaves and fruits, while the railings spiral with a hint of twisted flowers. The colors of the earth and sky also reappear in the floors, backyards, kitchens, and rooms of colonial houses, coating them in shades of brown and blue.
“The whole hand will be the tenth part of the man; From the bottom of the chin to the top of the head is an eighth of its height; From the nipples to the top of the head it will be the fourth part of the height.” If you're still here without going to get a measuring tape, these phrases were written by Marcus Vitruvius Pollio, a Roman architect who lived in the 1st century BC, who delineated them in his influential treatise “De Architectura Libri Decem” – Ten Books on Architecture. The data presented by Vitruvius was compiled and depicted visually around fifteen hundred years later by Leonardo Da Vinci in his famous work “Vitruvian Man,” which is reproduced in all different contexts today, from book covers to kitchen aprons.
Cuisine, culture, sightseeing, and engaging with the locals are all reasons people like to travel. The common factor that draws us to explore new places, however, is simply the chance to experience cities and landscapes unlike our own familiar surroundings. For example, when Chinese tourists can again visit Copenhagen, they may admire the waterside capital’s winding bike paths, lush green parks, and the Scandinavian brick traditions on display in Nyhavn. Likewise, a Danish tourist would surely be blown away by the breathtaking scale of Beijing, with it’s 9 million+ bicycles and the display of ancient Chinese culture juxtaposed with modern society.