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Technology: The Latest Architecture and News

Concave and Convex: Designing with Curved Wood

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.

Vertical Partitions Redefine Spaces Quickly, Easily, and with Style

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The ability to detach dividing walls from fixed structural frameworks has been one of the most notable contributions of modern architecture. The moment came when Le Corbusier's conceived the Dom-ino system, in 1914, and was brought to life in the Villa Savoye, where the structural lattice of pillars contrasted with an independent and even organic distribution of the interior partitions. The so-called open plan has been used and reinvented by architects since then for multiple scales and programs, with a flexibility that allows for the creation of large spaces with or without partitions. But one important nuisance that plagues the open plan it that is often difficult to create closed spaces when necessary, which can improve acoustic qualities and the possibility of natural light. Operable partitions serve this purpose through various mechanisms, such as sliding, folding, or wheeled panels, but they do not always facilitate the necessary conditions. Directly addressing these issues, Skyfold has developed the solution: operable walls that fold vertically and remain hidden when retracted.

Latvian Pavilion at the 2021 Venice Biennale Explores Human Resistance to Technology

Titled "It's Not For You! It's For the Building", the Latvian Pavilion at the 17th International Architecture Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia showcases how technology risks creating new problems while providing solutions to urgent global crises. Curated by architecture office NRJA, the pavilion will be on display at the Arsenale from May 21st until November 22nd, 2021.

Courtesy of The Latvian PavilionCourtesy of The Latvian Pavilion© Ēriks Božis for NRJACourtesy of The Latvian Pavilion+ 17

Should Architecture Be Static? The Possibilities of Kinetic Buildings

Through shapes, colors, and the elements on their facades, many architects have sought to bring a sense of movement to works that are otherwise physically static. Santiago Calatrava, Jean Nouvel, and Frank Gehry are only a few of the masters who managed to provide a dynamic effect to motionless structures, highlighting the work in context using formal strategies borrowed from the plastic arts. In other cases, however, architects have also opted for physically kinetic structures that could bring a unique aesthetic or functional dimension to the work.

3D Printing a 2-Meter-High Column in 30 Minutes: What's Next With This Technology?

There's no question that 3D printing is here to stay. However, it is still a developing technology that raises certain questions: is it really effective for massive and large-scale construction? How sustainable is it? Will it go from being an option to becoming the norm in the construction industry? To help clarify the broader picture of 3D printing's place in architecture and construction, we spoke with Alain Guillen, Managing Director and Co-founder of XtreeE, a platform that allows architects to bring their designs to reality through advanced large-scale 3D printing, generating quick and precise shapes without material waste. See below how he and his team see the future of robotics in architecture and why architects should prepare to embrace this new technology, heading for a more efficient but equally creative future.