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Smart Materials: The Latest Architecture and News

Carlo Ratti's Writing Robot Transforms Your Wall into an Artistic Canvas

12:00 - 6 April, 2018
 Carlo Ratti's Writing Robot Transforms Your Wall into an Artistic Canvas, Courtesy of Gary di Silvio and Giacomo Mangia
Courtesy of Gary di Silvio and Giacomo Mangia

Carlo Ratti Associati (CRA) has unveiled Scribit, a “writing robot” which draws images and text on any wall surface, turning office, living, and bathroom walls into a blank canvas for artistic expression. Using in-built engines, Scribit can draw, cancel, and re-draw new content an infinite number of times, allowing users to print different images, messages, or feeds every day.

Scribit is always connected to the internet, allowing users to download, upload or source any online content. Operating in real time, Scribit immediately reproduces any data sent to it by the user, be it a restaurant posting the day’s menu, a financial firm posting stock market updates in its lobby, or an art enthusiast projecting their own content on the living room wall.

Courtesy of Gary di Silvio and Giacomo Mangia Courtesy of Gary di Silvio and Giacomo Mangia Courtesy of Gary di Silvio and Giacomo Mangia Courtesy of Gary di Silvio and Giacomo Mangia + 8

5 Passive Cooling Alternatives Using Robotics and Smart Materials

13:00 - 20 August, 2017
5 Passive Cooling Alternatives Using Robotics and Smart Materials, Cortesía de IAAC
Cortesía de IAAC

The IAAC (Institute for Advanced Architecture of Catalonia) has developed a series of advanced materials and systems for air conditioning and passive ventilation, allowing homes to reduce interior temperatures up to 5 degrees lower while saving the electricity consumption caused by the traditional air-conditioning. The systems are made from long-lifespan materials, which lower the costs of maintenance in the long-term and can be used as low-cost alternative building technologies.

The projects highlighted are the Breathing Skin, Hydroceramics, Hydromembrane, Morphluid and Soft Robotics - all developed by students of the IAAC's Digital Matter Intelligent Constructions (conducted by Areti Markopoulou). The passive air-conditioning of spaces is investigated using a combination of new materials that mimic organic processes, adaptive structures and Robotics that help regulate temperature and create sustainable micro climates.

From Superheroes To SuperMaterials: Five Super Materials With The Power To Change Our World

08:00 - 26 April, 2017
From Superheroes To SuperMaterials: Five Super Materials With The Power To Change Our World, Courtesy of The Built Environment Trust. Image © Chris Tubbs
Courtesy of The Built Environment Trust. Image © Chris Tubbs

What's behind our current obsession with all things Superheroes, from the Marvel and DC comics spinoffs for TV and Film, to the more eccentric offerings on Netflix from the Wachowski’s Sens8 to the cosmic supernature of The OA? Critics see the classic superhero expressing the desire to re-establish order in the face of chaos (Batman/Joker) but some of our more recent superheroes are about the power of change, of remaking the world through a kind of ‘superempathy’. The power of the superhero depicted as an eccentric group of people reskilling with new forces and energies – think the aerobics-physics of The OA which invents and designs a new collective body and superpower and the transcultural/transtemporal superempathy of Sens8.

Something of this otherworldly capability of the new wave of superheroes is tangible at SuperMaterial exhibition at The Building Centre in London. It's about materials and the built environment, how these SuperMaterials will radically transform our relationship to the world around us through the superpower of material empathy, either adapting and changing to the environment, or being so efficient to produce and upcycle that they diminish the need to lay waste to the environment in the extraction of resources.

This 6-Axis Robot Arm Can 3D Print Fiberglass Composites

08:00 - 26 March, 2017
This 6-Axis Robot Arm Can 3D Print Fiberglass Composites, Atropos was developed by architects and engineers at the Politecnico di Milano's +Lab. Image Courtesy of Politecnico di Milano
Atropos was developed by architects and engineers at the Politecnico di Milano's +Lab. Image Courtesy of Politecnico di Milano

A team of architects and engineers at the Politecnico di Milano in Italy have unveiled Atropos, a six-axis robotic arm capable of printing continuous fiber composites. The one of a kind robot was developed by +Lab, the 3D printing laboratory at the Politecnico, who have taken inspiration from fibres found in the natural world. Through a technology known as Continuous Fiber Composites Smart Manufacturing, Atropos has the potential to create large, complex structures to aid the design and construction process.

The design team studied the behaviour of silkworms and spiders when developing the fiber-printing robot. Image Courtesy of Politecnico di Milano Quick-setting fiber resin negates the need for additional supports. Image Courtesy of Politecnico di Milano The six-axis robotic arm uses technology known as Continuous Fiber Composites Smart Manufacturing. Image Courtesy of Politecnico di Milano The process can produce elements ranging from centimeters to meters. Image Courtesy of Politecnico di Milano + 16

This Cement Generates Light

12:00 - 8 December, 2016
This Cement Generates Light, Cortesía de Sinembargo.com
Cortesía de Sinembargo.com

Over the past ten years the development of intelligent construction models, closely tied to energy efficiency, has introduced new materials that have one or more properties modified, in a controlled and partial way, by external stimuli such as radiation, temperature, pH, humidity, wind, and other environmental factors. 

As a response to new construction models, Dr. José Carlos Rubio Ávalos of the UMSNH of Morelia, has developed a cement with the capacity to absorb and irradiate light energy, in order to provide greater functionality and versatility to concrete in regards to energy efficiency.

MIT Research Team Develops Affordable Smart Glass Alternative

16:00 - 27 January, 2016

When it comes to scrutinizing architectural materials for their energy efficiency, one offender stands out above the rest: glass. Windows and curtain walls act as one of a building’s main outlets for heating and cooling losses, and as society advances into its more environmentally-conscious future, new, passive solutions will need to be developed to mitigate buildings’ energy footprints. In recent years, various smart glass technologies have been designed to automatically regulate light and heat based on environmental conditions. Yet their high price tags have prevented them from achieving widespread application. Now, a team of MIT researchers may have discovered an alternative to smart glass that could come at an affordable price.

MIT Researchers Develop 10-Material 3D Printer Capable of "Smart" Printing

03:00 - 1 September, 2015

In the latest of a series of technological developments which are expanding the capabilities of 3D Printing, researchers at MIT's Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) have developed a 3D printer that is capable of handling up to 10 materials simultaneously, and uses a process called "machine vision" to dramatically increase the variety of objects which the printer can produce.

UK Start-Up Hopes to Manufacture World's First Intelligent All-Glass Living Suite

01:00 - 7 December, 2014
UK Start-Up Hopes to Manufacture World's First Intelligent All-Glass Living Suite, A proposal for the Photon House, a large scale variation of the Photon Space for permanent living. Image Courtesy of The Photon Project
A proposal for the Photon House, a large scale variation of the Photon Space for permanent living. Image Courtesy of The Photon Project

UK start-up company The Photon Project has announced its plan to launch the Photon Space, the world's first intelligent all-glass living unit. Motivated by the major positive benefits that natural light can have on our energy levels, sleep pattern and overall health, the goal of the Photon Space is to create a dwelling that allows its occupants a maximum connection to the outside world.

Posited as an ideal addition to hotels, spas, health retreats, medical centres, and other resorts, the skin of the Photon Space is made of smart glass supported by curving glass beams, switching from transparent to opaque in seconds with the help of an iPhone app.

Courtesy of The Photon Project Courtesy of The Photon Project The Photon Space at sunset. Image Courtesy of The Photon Project Courtesy of The Photon Project + 13

IaaC Students Develop Material System with Responsive Structural Joints

00:00 - 10 September, 2014
IaaC Students Develop Material System with Responsive Structural Joints, Courtesy of IaaC (Instituto de Aquitectura Avanzada de Catalunya), Ece Tankal, Efilena Baseta, Ramin Shambayati
Courtesy of IaaC (Instituto de Aquitectura Avanzada de Catalunya), Ece Tankal, Efilena Baseta, Ramin Shambayati

Despite architecture's continued evolution over the course of history, our use of structural materials has remained largely the same since the advent of modern building materials. This reality may be changing thanks to the development of new materials seeking the same kinds of adaptability often found in nature.

Adaptable architecture is becoming an increasingly viable endeavor as a result of recent developments in building technologies and materials. Masters research students Ece Tankal, Efilena Baseta and Ramin Shambayati at the Institute for Advanced Architecture of Catalonia were interested in “architecture of transition” and have developed a new material system that utilizes a thermally responsive polymer as structural joints with their project, "Translated Geometries." Read on after the break to learn about how this new material system was developed and its potential for applications in architecture.

Courtesy of IaaC (Instituto de Aquitectura Avanzada de Catalunya), Ece Tankal, Efilena Baseta, Ramin Shambayati Courtesy of IaaC (Instituto de Aquitectura Avanzada de Catalunya), Ece Tankal, Efilena Baseta, Ramin Shambayati Courtesy of IaaC (Instituto de Aquitectura Avanzada de Catalunya), Ece Tankal, Efilena Baseta, Ramin Shambayati Courtesy of IaaC (Instituto de Aquitectura Avanzada de Catalunya), Ece Tankal, Efilena Baseta, Ramin Shambayati + 23

How Do Mysterious "Memory" Materials Work?

00:00 - 3 August, 2014
How Do Mysterious "Memory" Materials Work?, Decker Yeadon's Homeostatic Facade System. Image Courtesy of Design Curial
Decker Yeadon's Homeostatic Facade System. Image Courtesy of Design Curial

Imagine a material that shifts and moves according to the temperature of the outside air - like a flower opening up for sunlight and closing its petals at night. New high-tech smart materials have allowed this idea to thrive and the possibilities are endless. Originally posted on Design Curial, the designer and smart material guru Chris Leferti answers a few questions behind these mysterious materials.

There are many materials that are defining the future: renewable resources, completely new materials such as graphene, but one of the biggest and most fascinating groups -- that continues to grow -- is smart materials.

Find out more about these amazing materials after the break

When Biology Inspires Architecture: An Interview with Doris Kim Sung

01:00 - 14 May, 2014
When Biology Inspires Architecture: An Interview with Doris Kim Sung , Much of dO|Su Studio Architecture's work is with Thermal-Bimetals, a laminated sheet metal material that can expand and contract at different temperatures. Image © Brandon Shigeta
Much of dO|Su Studio Architecture's work is with Thermal-Bimetals, a laminated sheet metal material that can expand and contract at different temperatures. Image © Brandon Shigeta

Material Minds, presented by ArchDaily Materials, is our new series of short interviews with architects, designers, scientists, and others who use architectural materials in innovative ways. Enjoy!

Before attending Columbia University for her Masters in Architecture, Los Angeles-based architect Doris Kim Sung took a fairly non-traditional approach to becoming an architect: she was a biologist. Naturally then, Sung’s architectural work tends to take inspiration from the biological world, particularly in the way she experiments and innovates with materials. Much of her work involves thermal bimetals, a material that expands and contracts with temperature swings; it can even act as a sun shade and ventilation system, without the need for electricity.

So where does a biologist-turned-architect draw inspiration from? We interviewed Ms. Sung to find out for ourselves -- the responses, like her work at dO|Su Architecture, are simply fascinating.

Seaweed, Salt, Potatoes, & More: Seven Unusual Materials with Architectural Applications

01:00 - 7 May, 2014
Seaweed, Salt, Potatoes, & More: Seven Unusual Materials with Architectural Applications, The “Saltygloo” project is an igloo made of printed translucent modular salt panels. Image © Matthew Millman
The “Saltygloo” project is an igloo made of printed translucent modular salt panels. Image © Matthew Millman

The following article is presented by ArchDaily Materials. In this article, originally published by Metropolis Magazine, Lara Kristin Herndon and Derrick Mead explore seven innovative architectural materials and the designers behind them. Some materials are byproducts, some will help buildings breathe and one is making the leap from 3D printing to 4D printing.

When Arthur C. Clarke said that any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic, he was speaking from the spectator’s point of view, not the magician’s. As our list of smart materials shows, technology solves difficult problems, but getting there requires more than just a wave of the magic wand. Each of the following projects looks past easy answers. Whether it’s a new way of looking at old problems, a new material that maximizes the efficiency of an old technique, or a new method to tap the potential of an abundant or underutilized resource, here are seven innovators who take technology out of the realm of science fiction.

The Steel Age Is Over. Has The Next Age Begun?

00:00 - 23 April, 2014
The Steel Age Is Over. Has The Next Age Begun?, As of now, carbon fiber has only been applied to small scale applications, such as the Textile Room by P-A-T-T-E-R-N-S. Image © Monica Nouwens
As of now, carbon fiber has only been applied to small scale applications, such as the Textile Room by P-A-T-T-E-R-N-S. Image © Monica Nouwens

Andrew Carnegie once said, “Aim for the highest.” He followed his own advice. The powerful 19th century steel magnate had the foresight to build a bridge spanning the Mississippi river, a total of 6442 feet. In 1874, the primary structural material was iron — steel was the new kid on the block. People were wary of steel, scared of it even. It was an unproven alloy.

Nevertheless, after the completion of Eads Bridge in St. Louis, Andrew Carnegie generated a publicity stunt to prove steel was in fact a viable building material. A popular superstition of the day stated that an elephant would not cross an unstable bridge. On opening day, a confident Carnegie, the people of St. Louis and a four-ton elephant proceeded to cross the bridge. The elephant was met on the other side with pompous fanfare. What ensued was the greatest vertical building boom in American history, with Chicago and New York pioneering the cause. That’s right people; you can thank an adrenaline-junkie elephant for changing American opinion on the safety of steel construction.

So if steel replaced iron - as iron replaced bronze and bronze, copper -  what will replace steel? Carbon Fiber.