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Sustainability: The Latest Architecture and News

UNStudio Designs Hybrid Building in Luxembourg for a Reduced Carbon Footprint

UNStudio, in collaboration with local partner HYP Architects, has won the competition for the design of the Kyklos building in Luxembourg. The project is part of Beval, a large-scale redevelopment initiative aiming to transform a former industrial site into an urban center complete with a university and technological center, in addition to residential, office, and retail spaces. When designing the Kyklos building, which will occupy a central position in the district's main square, the architects set out to find solutions to create the smallest carbon footprint for both operational and embedded metrics.

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A PVC-Free Acoustic Solution for Healthy, Sustainable and Soundproof Interiors

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Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plastic –commonly known as vinyl– is everywhere. In fact, chances are you are sitting close to (or on) something containing PVC in some way, shape or form. It’s used in packaging, automobile parts, children’s toys, clothing, accessories, wires, furniture, medical supplies and hundreds of other everyday items. This year alone, global production exceeded 51 million metric tons, solidifying its rank as the third-most produced plastic in the world. It is particularly in the architecture, engineering and construction industry that the material stands unchallenged, accounting for 60-70% of its total consumption. So much so that it has indisputably become the most used plastic for building materials worldwide, often found in pipes, fittings, flooring, roofing, window profiles and more. It’s not hard to understand why: PVC is durable, highly versatile, cost-effective and easy to maintain. But nothing comes without a cost, they say…

Construction Challenges and Solutions in Mass Timber: The Case of the Dengo Store

Mass timber is an innovative construction solution that is gaining prominence worldwide due to its sustainability and technological benefits. In 2020, the opening of the first Dengo concept store, located in São Paulo, marked the debut of the brand's first interactive factory and the pioneering use of CLT (Cross Laminated Timber) in a high-rise building in Brazil. Developed by architecture firm Matheus Farah and Manoel Maia, the project faced several challenges precisely because of its use of this new technology, which was just beginning to emerge in the construction sector.

The choice of CLT as the project's main building material reflects a commitment to sustainability and to reducing its environmental impact, as it helps mitigate carbon in the atmosphere. In addition, its use allows for cleaner, lighter, and faster construction compared to traditional building methods. However, it is important to keep in mind that mass timber construction requires special care in the handling, storage, and assembly of materials, in order to preserve their integrity and aesthetic details throughout the construction process. Using the right methods is therefore essential to guarantee a high-quality result, which include practices such as not leaving the wood exposed to weather or using wedges to prevent the wood from coming into contact with the ground.

Modern Straw: From Building System to Decoration

The use and demand for natural materials in architecture and interior design have facilitated the revival of updated traditional construction systems for the contemporary context. What was once considered rustic is now being explored in more modern settings; therefore, the application of the material is also subject to new forms of fixation, coloring, and orientation (horizontal or vertical). While wood is the dominant material in traditional systems and environmentally sustainable materials, another material that has been used for centuries, equally sustainable and biodegradable, and has received less attention is straw.

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Zaha Hadid Architects Reveals Design for Hydrogen Refueling Stations Across the Italian Marina

Zaha Hadid Architects have released images of their design for the world’s first hydrogen refueling infrastructure for recreational boating. Continuing ZHA’s experience in maritime designs, the stations are to be installed in 25 Italian marinas and ports. Launched by NatPower H, the stations will begin to be implemented in the summer of 2024, with plans to expand to over 100 locations throughout the Mediterranean Sea in the next six years.

From New Buildings to Retrofit Projects: Solar Facade Systems for a Circular and Low-Carbon Architecture

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The sun’s influence on human life encompasses multiple dimensions, from biological and developmental aspects to religious-mythological connotations in civilizations such as the Egyptians and Romans. Moreover, this influence extends to its use as a natural resource within the realm of science. In scientific pursuits, the continuous search to harness the sun as an energy source has been a constant throughout the years. Within this context, the discovery of the photovoltaic effect and its application have paved the way in the history of solar panels, starting from the first observations of Becquerel to the initial prototypes of Charles Fritts in the 19th century.

Nowadays, the energy obtained from the sun through devices such as solar panels has become one of the most widely used sources in regions like North America and Europe, contributing to the efforts for a complete transition to clean energy. The momentum in this transition has motivated the development of new technologies, such as SolarLab facade systems, that challenge the preconceived idea of what a solar panel looks like and where it can be installed. These systems converge with architecture to integrate them as aesthetic elements, serving as cladding for both retrofit projects and new buildings.

OODA Reveals Design for Mixed-Use Vertical Village in Tirana, Albania

OODA has released images of Hora Vertikale, a new project planned for the Albanian capital city incorporating residential units arranged vertically surrounded by a new park and featuring a diverse range of amenities. The design stacks seven types of cubes, each measuring seven stories in height and defined by a distinct visual identity inspired by both urban and rural elements. The project, developed in collaboration with local architects Artech, has received planning permission, and construction is expected to begin in early spring.

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Artificial Intelligence as an Ally in Architectural Decarbonization: From Conception to Building Implementation

For a long time, sustainability in the architectural field was synonymous with technology. Efficiency was directly linked to innovative technological devices that adorned buildings with gadgets. Nowadays, however, sustainability increasingly encompasses different strategies that also involve acknowledging vernacular techniques and local materials as crucial for creating sustainable and carbon-neutral buildings.

Nevertheless, regardless of the technique or materials employed, the common denominator is the pursuit of reducing the carbon footprint of our architecture, which demands changes in how buildings are conceived, constructed, and operated. In other words, whether returning to vernacular methods or utilizing cutting-edge applications, these strategies aim to reach the same destination and, therefore, are equally valid despite being vastly different.

The Importance of Architectural Conception in Mass Timber Projects

It's fascinating to observe the current state of wood in the world of architecture. The material, once seemingly forgotten by modernity, has resurged with full force, facing significant challenges but also revealing promising opportunities. The aesthetic and architectural appeal of engineered wood, coupled with its intrinsic association with sustainability, has been a catalyst for the increase in wood-centric projects around the world.

Due to technological advancements and research into the limits and possibilities of this material, there has been a significant leap in the development of wood in construction. Buildings around the world are being erected with wooden structures, driven by the increasing interest in sustainable solutions based on renewable resources, a demand from both the public and architects and their clients.

How Environmental and Climate Racism Manifests in Cities

A few days before the end of November, Gramado, a city known as one of the most sought-after tourist destinations in southern Brazil, grabbed the attention of national and international media. Unfortunately, it wasn't due to its film festival or the traditional lavish Christmas festivities. The city, already suffering from weeks of persistent rain, witnessed the emergence of massive geological rifts tearing through its streets, creating a post-apocalyptic movie-like scenario.

The imminent danger of ground movement alerted the population and the authorities, who promptly evacuated the buildings on the hills of the condemned neighborhood. This course of action proved entirely effective and responsible, as one of the buildings within the designated area did indeed collapse three days after the evacuation. However, it is worth noting a detail: the affected neighborhood consisted of upscale residences and luxury hotels and inns, which raises a question: would the efforts have been the same if the situation occurred in lower-income peripheral neighborhoods?