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Technology: The Latest Architecture and News

Towards Sustainable and Affordable Housing: Is 3D Printing the Future or the Present?

In recent years, the construction industry has faced unprecedented challenges. A lack of skilled workers is driving up costs of labor, there is a global housing shortage, and the effects of climate change around the world are clearer than ever. Therefore, questioning traditional construction methods and pushing the limits of innovation has become a top priority, forcing the industry to implement new technologies as they get on board the digital transformation era. There is one innovation, however, that looks particularly promising: 3D construction printing. Although relatively recent, the technology has already been successfully tested in numerous structures, houses and apartment buildings, reshaping residential construction as we know it. Hence, 3D printing could very well be a viable alternative for more efficient, sustainable and cost-effective mass housing solutions in the near future, positively impacting people’s lives and contributing to greener, healthier cities.

The Real Problems of Today’s Design

Since the emergence of the design profession, boosted in the Industrial Revolution with the increasing production of objects and the desire of a middle class eager to consume; designers, interior decorators and architects are known as professionals who create spaces and products to beautify the world.

Photo by Brady Bellini via UnsplashPhoto by Chris Gallagher via UnsplashPhoto by Petr Magera via UnsplashPhoto by Sergei A via Unsplash+ 8

Metaverse: A Fertile Ground for Architects?

Metaverse is the name used to name an immersive, collective and hyper-realistic virtual environment, where people will be able to live together using 3D customized avatars.

It was coined by writer Neal Stephenson in his science fiction book “Snow Crash”, published in 1992. The work tells the story of “Hiro Protagonist”, a character who in real life is a pizza delivery boy, but in the virtual world – called metaverse in the story – is a samurai.

What is Carbon Concrete?

Seen as one of the great promises for the future of construction, carbon concrete mixes strength, lightness and flexibility. In addition, at a time marked by a serious environmental crisis that puts the construction methods of the industry in check, carbon concrete emerges as an alternative that approaches the guidelines of sustainability.

3D Printing with Low-Carbon Concrete: Reducing CO2 Emissions and Material Waste

After water, concrete is the second most-consumed material on the planet and its production is substantially growing, expected to increase from 4.4 billion tons, reaching production up to 5.5 billion tons by 2050. Unfortunately, this comes at a huge environmental cost, accounting for almost eight percent of the global carbon emissions. With this estimated expected growth, stakeholders in the construction industry must work on integrating sustainable building materials and innovative processes. 

The Architecture of Museums: The Evolution of Curatorial Spaces

Across the globe, museums function as cultural landmarks – spaces of significance that quite often become defining symbols of a city’s architectural landscape. Historical examples such as the Museum de Fundatie in the Netherlands and The Louvre Museum in France continue to attract millions of visitors, with contemporary architectural interventions to them redefining their spatial contribution to their local context.

Sonorous Museum - Copenhagen. Image © Laura StamerSonorous Museum - Copenhagen. Image © Laura StamerNational Portrait Gallery - Augmented Reality. Image © Art of LondonSonorous Museum - Copenhagen. Image © Laura Stamer+ 12

Building Complex Elements in Concrete with 3D Printed Foam Formworks

With the aim of generating a significant impact on the responsible and sustainable consumption of resources and energy in the construction industry, ETH Zürich in collaboration with FenX AG is using foam 3D printing (F3DP) to manufacture geometrically complex formwork for the construction of special elements in concrete.

Winners of Saint-Gobain’s International Gypsum Trophy 2021

Courtesy of Saint-Gobain’s International Gypsum Trophy 2021
Courtesy of Saint-Gobain’s International Gypsum Trophy 2021

Today, drywall and gypsum-based systems are currently present in almost all architectural works. These allow you to coat buildings with products that combine, among other attributes, construction ease, fire safety and the possibility of recycling, both in historic structures or completely new constructions. Since 1998, Saint-Gobain - one of the largest distributors of these types of systems - has awarded the projects that best apply them in their solutions, dividing them into 6 categories (Ceilings, Plaster, Plasterboard, Innovation & Sustainability, Residential, and Non-Residential). The submitted projects are meant to demonstrate how the architects managed to ingeniously unite the company's products with innovative solutions to overcome each of the difficulties that the works or contexts impose.

In its 12th edition, participants came from 30 different countries and showcased 74 projects. See the 14 awardees below:

From Handcrafted Stone to 3D Printing: The Technological and Material Evolution of Gaudí's Sagrada Familia

A masterpiece is often defined as the most remarkable work in an artist's career, one which highlights the height of their techniques and ideals. The Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci; Michelangelo's Pietá; the Beatles' Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band album. There are many examples, which are not always unanimously agreed upon. But what if what many consider to be the masterpiece was started by someone else, the credited creator didn't live to see its completion, and almost all of its documentation was destroyed? Catalan architect Antoni Gaudí and his world-famous Temple Expiatori de la Sagrada Família are examples of these complications. From a highly crafted stone construction to the most modern 3D printing techniques and high strength concrete, numerous technologies were and continue to be incorporated in the project's construction.

BIG Designs European AI and Cybersecurity Hub in Bratislava

Bjarke Ingels Group revealed the design for a tech campus in Bratislava, an urban village of interconnected buildings organized around a central courtyard that would foster a creative ecosystem for cybersecurity and AI innovation. Created in collaboration with Inflow, Pantograph, BuroHappold, and ARUP, the project features an undulating photovoltaic roof that unifies the twelve individual structures while defining the architectural silhouette on the backdrop of the Carpathian Mountains.

© Bloom© Bloom© Bjarke Ingels Group and Bloom© Bloom+ 15

4D Printing? Bridging Additive Manufacturing with Smart Materials

While we are still trying to understand the possibilities and limits of three-dimensional printing and additive manufacturing, a new term has emerged for our vocabulary. 4D printing is nothing more than a digital manufacturing technology -3D printing- which includes a new dimension: the temporal. This means that the printed material, once ready, will be able to modify, transform or move autonomously due to its intrinsic properties that respond to environmental stimuli.

The concept was popularized by researcher Skylar Tibbits, who coordinates the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Self-Assembly Lab, in collaboration with Stratasys and Autodesk. The technology is still quite new, but it is expected to be used in many fields, from construction, infrastructure, automobile and aeronautics and even for healthcare, combined with bioprinting.