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Technology: The Latest Architecture and News

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.

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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

Winners of Saint-Gobain’s International Gypsum Trophy 2021 - Featured Image
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.

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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.

Concave and Convex: Designing with Curved Wood

Concave and Convex: Designing with Curved Wood - Image 4 of 4
Sculptform Design Studio / Woods Bagot. Image © Peter Bennetts

Curved shapes have always sparked architects' fascination for evoking nature's beauty, fluidity, dynamism, and complexity. To replicate these shapes, however, is no easy task. From their two- or three-dimensional representation to their execution in their final materials, this represents an enormous difficulty, which requires technical expertise and a great amount of knowledge to achieve strong results. Thinking of new ways to produce organic shapes from natural materials is even more complicated.

In addition to this, working with a natural material such as wood carries its own set of peculiarities. Factors such as the species of wood, where the tree grew, what climate it faced, when it was cut, how it was sliced or dried, among many other variables, largely influence the final result. But it's hard for other materials to compare to the beauty and warmth that wooden surfaces bring to the built environment. If the appropriate processes are used, wood can be curved and remain in the desired shape - and for this, there is a number of known techniques which Australian company, Sculptform, has perfected.

How Does Radiant Floor Heating Work?

Caius Sergius Orata is credited, by Vitruvius, with inventing the hypocaust. The word, from the Latin hypocaustum, in a literal translation, means access from below. The hypocaust is a raised floor system on ceramic piles where, at one end, a furnace—where firewood is burned uninterruptedly—provides heat to the underground space, which rises through walls constructed of perforated bricks. Hypocausts heated, through the floor, some of the most opulent buildings of the Roman Empire (including some residences) and, above all, the famous Public Baths.

With a similar function, but in the East, there existed the ondol. It is estimated that it was developed during the Three Kingdoms of Korea (57 BC-668 AD), but researchers point out that the solution was used long before that. The system also manipulated the flow of smoke from agungi (rudimentary wood stoves), rather than trying to use fire as a direct heat source like most heating systems. It even caught the attention of Frank Lloyd Wright, as pointed out in this article, who adapted the system to use it in heating homes in the United States and in his important Imperial Hotel in Tokyo. How do radiant floor heating systems currently work?

Scientists Create First Global Atlas of Urban Microorganisms

“If you gave me your shoe, I could tell you with about 90% accuracy the city in the world from which you came,” says Christopher Mason, Ph.D., a professor at Weill Cornell Medicine in New York, NY, co-author of the first global atlas of urban microorganisms. The study, carried out by the international Metagenomics and Metadesign of Subways and Urban Biomes (MetaSUB) consortium, creates a map of the microbiome of some of the largest cities in the world.

Holography: How It Could Change Architectural Space

Although holograms have been a possibility for decades—the first hologram was developed in the early 1960’s following the development of laser technology—many might still associate them more with science fiction, the term conjuring up images of high-tech superhero gadgets and spaceships in the distant future. Yet as we inch closer to the reality of a hyper-technologized future, and a variety of industries—including architecture and construction— begin to embrace new forms of increasingly advanced technology, holography, too, has a chance of completely reshaping the way we conceptualize and experience architecture. While it is impossible to predict exactly how holographic technology will be used in the future, below, we list several examples of existing projects that use holograms and other types of holography to create atmospheric environments, fantastical scenes, and practical visualizations. These examples move beyond the use of holograms to visualize structures and sites during the design phase; they utilize holography to shape the completed architectural space itself, completely altering the sensory and spatial experience of their environment.