“All the physical spaces that we (architects) design – buildings, interiors and cities are born as metaspaces, and we call them 3D models”. With this statement Brian Jencek, director of planning at San Francisco-based architecture firm HOK, narrows the boundaries between the current way of designing and the future of architecture in the metaverse. According to him, we are not that far from this technology, since we already use the same tools that visual designers use to create realistic environments, such as Unity, Twin motion and Blender.
Technology: The Latest Architecture and News
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”.
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.
From smartphones to space rockets and self-driving cars, the power of technology in this modern digital era is enormous (and practically limitless). It has impacted every aspect of our lives and will continue to open up endless possibilities that today we cannot even begin to fathom. When applied in a socially and environmentally responsible way, technology has the power to enhance productivity, communication and sustainability, enabling global communities to function efficiently, addressing people’s everyday needs and improving their quality of life. Simply put, good technology serves humanity. And just as the healthcare or manufacturing industries have taken advantage of this, the architecture, design and construction world cannot fall behind.
NASA and AI Space Factory developed LINA (Lunar Infrastructure Asset), an in-situ 3D-printed outpost to protect astronauts and critical missions on the Moon. The project is part of the Relevant Environment Additive Construction Technology (REACT), a multi-year collaboration to develop technologies for lunar surface constructions within the timeframe of the Artemis Mission: humankind’s return to the Moon. LINA is a step in the effort to expand civilization to Earth’s natural satellite and explore it in a sustainable way that minimizes human disturbance.
Generation Z comprises people born after 1995. They grew along with the popularization of the internet and interact with the world by integrating all forms of available technology.
The diversity of available media, the speed in information traffic, the interactivity in the virtual environment and the daily use of these technological assets common today, influence the behavior of individuals of this generation, inspiring versatility, agility and curiosity.
The relationship between architecture and nature is complex. If, on the one hand, we enjoy framing nature as art in our homes; on the other hand, we try at all costs to avoid the presence of obstructive "real" nature in our walls and structures, which can be damaged by roots and leaves. At the same time, we use green roofs, vertical gardens and flower boxes to bring cities closer to nature and improve people's wellbeing; but we also construct buildings with materials that are completely dissociated from fauna and flora. Although the advancement of biomaterials and new technologies is gradually changing this, we should nevertheless ask ourselves whether the structures and buildings we occupy need to be separated from the nature that surrounds them. This was the question that led researchers at the University of Virginia (UVA) to develop geometrically complex 3D-printed soil structures on which plants could grow freely.
Today’s cities have been substantially reshaped to correspond with environmental and social needs or to reconstruct themselves after natural disasters or war. Whereas master plans and regulations take years, millions of people remain trapped in the crossfire and urgently need aid in their cities. With this pressing issue in mind, WZMH Architects developed a prefabricated- modular system for salvaging thousands of structures across Ukraine that have been partially or fully destroyed during the war. This system aims to integrate building technology into new buildings to create more sustainable communities.
“Hope for Architecture” is the calling of Clay Chapman and described by him as “a building initiative to address the challenges of an uncertain future.” In truth, “Hope for Architecture” is a masonry and timber technology, reinvented and adapted from antiquity for this moment. Clay and his young family moved to Carleton Landing, Oklahoma fifteen years ago to fulfill a mission: creating a community and explore that technology.
Should designers care about artificial intelligence (AI) or machine learning (ML)? There is no question that technology is adding texture to the current zeitgeist. Never could I have imagined seeing a blockbuster hit where Ryan Reynolds emerges as a conscious non-player character in a video game and a flop where Melissa McCarthy negotiates humanity’s future with a James Corden-powered superintelligence within a year of each other. But does learning AI and ML’s ins and outs really matter for the creative professions and our nebulous, invaluable way of operating?
Since the 1980’s, 3D-printing has offered new ways of developing architecture, engineering, and objects of daily use. When it comes to digitizing analogue processes, it is vital for users to become familiar with current tech innovations and their benefits. HIVE Project reshapes the art and craft of building in clay by combining traditional ceramics, smart geometry, and robotic precision to construct a masonry wall composed of one hundred seventy-five unique 3D-printed clay bricks.
Vantem is a startup construction company manufacturing high-efficiency, net-zero homes at competitive costs and low embodied carbon. The company recently raised a Series A round of investment from the Bill Gates-founded firm Breakthrough Energy Ventures. Net-zero homes, buildings that produce as much energy as they use, are typically cheaper to own than standard housing. Still, they often involve high construction costs since they require advanced building technologies and engineering. Vantem aims to change this dynamic by employing modular construction technology.