Geothermal Energy: Using the Earth to Heat Buildings and Generate Electricity

Unlike the air, the temperature in the subsoil varies very little during the year or according to geographical position. A few meters below the surface, the ground temperature is between about 10 to 21°C (50 to 70°F) depending on the region. Dig deeper, and the temperature increases between 20 to 40 degrees centigrade per km, reaching the Earth's core, which approaches 5000 °C. In fact, thinking about how we inhabit a sphere that is orbiting through space with a glowing center can be distressing for some. However, it may be helpful to learn that using Earth's forming energy to generate electricity is a sustainable and efficient way that is already common in some countries. At the same time, we can also take advantage of the mild temperature found a few meters under the ground to acclimatize buildings, whether in hot or cold climates.

Biophilic-Inspired Design Takes Center Stage: How Bricks Bring Nature In

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Largely driven by rural migration to cities and overall population growth, 68% of people worldwide will live in urban areas by 2050. By doing so, many will benefit from greater access to basic services, proximity to public transportation, and better education and employment opportunities. But the pursuit of living urbanized lives also leads to isolation from the outdoors –be it a forest, a meadow or the mountains– that can negatively impact our physical and mental health. Exposure to nature has long been proven to reduce stress levels, boost mood, foster productivity and, above all, enhance well-being. So, considering we typically spend around 93% of our time indoors (and that the pandemic has magnified that statistic), now more than ever we find ourselves seeking a connection with the outdoors and all its inherent benefits. Architects thus face the important challenge of bringing nature in, which is precisely where biophilic design comes into play.

What Does It Mean to Future-Proof a City, Landscape or Building with AI?

Cities concentrate opportunities and exchanges, culture and business, while, at the same time are a key contributor to climate change. They are highly complex organisms, with multiple actors involved, that bring to light underlying social interests and conflicts present in society. In 2007, the world's urban population surpassed the rural and this difference has been increasing ever since. According to the 2018 Revision of World Urbanization Prospects report, 55% of the world's current population lives in urban areas, rising to 68% by 2050. This will represent an increase of 2.5 billion people in urban areas, with almost 90% of this increase occurring in Asia and Africa. The Smart Sustainable Cities: Reconnaissance Study also points out that urban centers account for 67% of global energy demand, emit 70% of greenhouse gases and, on top of it all, buildings consume 40% of all energy worldwide. The prospect of a mostly urban world, along with the alarming onset of climate change, both raise challenges regarding living conditions in the coming decades and centuries, and all the implications that will accompany these changes.

Cradle to Cradle in Electric Appliances: Reusable Plugs and Switches

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Annually, 13% of the waste generated by humans is recycled, but where does the remaining 87% go? The combination of different types of waste is gradually filling the Earth’s oceans and landfills, leading to a negative impact on wildlife, the natural environment and human health. Within the large amounts of solid waste produced in developed cities, used electronics are a clear example of how materials can be efficiently managed after their life cycle ends. Understanding the behavior of these materials and resources before, during and after their useful life cycle has guided the search for new solutions, such as the Cradle to Cradle (C2C) methodology.

Multi-Use Public Spaces and Urban Design: Copenhagen and Social Integration

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"Life, space, buildings - in that order". This phrase, from the Danish urban architect Jan Gehl, sums up the changes that Copenhagen has undergone in the last 50 years. Currently known as one of the cities with the highest levels of quality of life satisfaction, the way its public spaces and buildings were and are designed have inspired architects, government authorities and urban planners around the world. What we see today, however, is the result of courageous decision-making, much observation and, above all, designs that put people first. Copenhagen will be the UNESCO-UIA World Capital of Architecture in 2023 as well as host of the UIA World Congress of Architects due to its strong legacy in innovative architecture and urban development, along with its concerted efforts in matters of climate, sustainability solutions and livability.

How Minimal Window Frames Maximize Light, Views and Transparency

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Windows serve multiple essential functions in any project, from framing views to providing daylight and natural ventilation. As human needs have shifted and technology has advanced significantly throughout the years, these have evolved in character, shape, and use of materials. What began as small arrow loops used for defense in medieval fortifications later transformed into wider openings that exemplified status and wealth. The Romans were the first to use glass, but it was considered a precious commodity for centuries. Intricate stained-glass panels adorned countless of medieval churches and cathedrals, while most home dwellers had to settle for covering their “windows” with wood, fur and other materials.

Beyond Storage: Shelving Systems as Design Elements

Shelves have a clear function: to organize, store and display. This simple, yet vital role has made them a must in every household, keeping the place neat and tidy by holding books, clothes, toys or any other items that would otherwise be scattered on the floor. Although usually found in closets, bedrooms, bathrooms and kitchens, shelves are useful wherever the extra storage is necessary. They are especially ideal for making the most out of small rooms, which will always benefit from having cleaner, clutter-free floor space. Responding to this crucial storage need and following a strict 'form follows function' approach, traditional shelves are often comprised of minimal, flat horizontal planes attached to a wall –a simple layout that is not particularly meant to draw attention. Hence, people don’t tend to think about shelving ideas beyond storage, and in that sense, the countless design possibilities they offer are often overlooked.

30 Years of Modern, Archetypal and Simple Bathroom Design

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Within the different spaces of an architectural project, bathrooms tend to be a mix of both functional and relaxing areas. Their place inside a project’s design implies a proper selection of fittings, where architects and designers can play with different shapes, colors and textures to follow the style of the whole scheme. As a source of inspiration for countless bathroom fittings, Dornbracht’s TARA collection combines geometric shapes with timeless modernity, all through a clear formal language.

The Use of Indigenous and Locally Sourced Materials in Philippines Architecture

The Philippines' history and cultural background are continually reflected in the architectural landscape throughout the country, with its structures and dwellings harboring a handful of influences from the nations that once purveyed the island.

Acoustic Panels That Enable Creative Freedom: Soundproofing an Elliptical Floating Building

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Noises –especially those we can’t control– greatly affect both physical and mental health. Whether coming from the street, upstairs neighbors or the room next door, research suggests that these can raise stress, reduce productivity, interfere with communications and contribute to developing issues such as high blood pressure. Ultimately, sound quality defines user experience and (literally) sets the tone for the rest of the interior. The bad news is that most conventional building materials used today in modern architecture –concrete, glass, masonry– have extremely hard surfaces and limited acoustic properties, reverberating sound several times over and forcing users to raise their voices to be understood. Coupled with growing urban density and projects adopting a mixed-use layout, all of this results in increasingly noisy, uncomfortable and distracting living and working environments.

Sustainable Office Furniture: Promoting Circular Design in the Workplace

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Interior architects and designers have often claimed that a well-designed office space will translate into greater productivity, creativity and worker satisfaction –yet the impact is greater than most tend to imagine. Recent studies suggest that good design positively impacts company culture, fosters a sense of community and creates a healthy, happy and motivating environment. In fact, it directly influences the recruitment and retention of talent: “workplace design significantly increases the attractiveness of employers to potential candidates.” Proper lighting, a flexible layout and biophilic features are all important factors to consider during the planning stage. But to fully address user comfort and well-being, these must be combined with excellent furniture design. After all, integrating high-quality ergonomic pieces is a simple way to boost mood and enhance functionality and aesthetics when creating or redecorating the workspace.

8 Kitchen Worktop Materials and How Well They Work

Whether you blame Covid lockdowns, recipe box subscriptions, or the latest high-tech kitchen appliances, everyone’s spending more time in the kitchen. Meanwhile, popular open-plan spaces remove the option of simply shutting the door on the catastrophic mess of a big meal, before settling in for a relaxing evening.

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.

In Search of the Elemental: Tactile Surfaces Inspired by the Particles of the Universe

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The search for the fundamental particle has been driving curious minds for much longer than we imagine. Leucippus and Democritus, Greek philosophers from the 5th century B.C., were the first to propose that the entire universe was made up of particles called atoms, indivisible and colliding against each other in an infinite void. Since then much has been studied about how dynamics actually take place at the atomic level (neutrons, protons and electrons), and there is still much to be discovered. Understanding the Higgs boson, for example, may even lead to a new understanding of the origin of the universe and life, since it can explain how elementary particles have mass. Moving from atomic abstraction to the world as we know it is a fascinating thing. It was this plunge into the particle –the smallest known part of the universe– which inspired the new collection by the Italian company Fiandre Architectural Surfaces, which produces ceramic pieces for spaces.

Eco-Capitalism and Architecture: Environmentally Friendly Materials and Technologies

There was a time when buildings wanted to be mountains, roofs wanted to be forests, and pillars wanted to be trees. As the world began to go into a state of alert with the melting of glaciers and the consequent rise of Earth’s temperature, architecture – from a general perspective – was concerned with imitating the shapes of nature. Something close to human-made “ecosystems”, seen by many as allegoric and decorative, in service of marketable images of “sustainable development”.

Decomposing Structures With Larvae: An EPS Pavilion in South Korea

Expanded polystyrene (EPS) was discovered in 1839 in Berlin and became a widely used material in airplanes manufactured for World War II due to its extremely low density. It is this characteristic that makes it a suitable material for thermal and acoustic insulation, often specified in buildings, but also widely used in packaging. A rigid cellular plastic, it is the result of polymerizing styrene in water, whose end product are expandable beads that have a diameter of up to 3 millimeters. Unfortunately though, this material takes more than 500 years to decompose and, in the process, leaches harmful chemicals into the environment. Recycling is possible, but it is complex and costly. This means that most of the Styrofoam produced to date still remains on the planet, taking up valuable space in landfills, or worse, broken into tiny pieces and interfering with ocean life. "Decomposition Farm: Stairway" is a temporary installation that offers a possible solution to the environmental issues related to construction waste in the architectural field.

Why is Terrazzo Considered One of the Original Sustainable Floors?

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When designing an architecture project, defining the flooring is a key element in achieving the comfort, style and functionality imagined by the design team. Depending on the type of use and its requirements, architects can choose the most suitable materials, textures and finishes for each project. Terrazzo & Marble offers a sustainable option to traditional materials like wood, carpet and ceramic with Terroxy Resin Systems, which are known for their sustainability, design flexibility, durability and low maintenance.