Fifty percent of landfill waste in New Zealand is construction and demolition waste. The demand for homes in the coming years and decades is rapidly outstripping any possible supply we could provide with our current construction methods. PhD student Ged Finch discusses the problems with the home building industry and practices in New Zealand and proposes an alternative to what he terms the "disposable model" of building. Today's homes are not built to last, and can make us sick in the time they are here. Finch's research focuses instead on a completely reimagined, zero waste model for construction. Utilizing today's digital fabrication technologies, we can create a set of building parts that are optimized and reusable from naturally durable materials. But the technical solution is only one part, states Finch. The real key is human ambition.
Te Dx: The Latest Architecture and News
What does the workplace of the future look like? Shawn Gehle, of Gensler, explains in this TEDx Talk that with over 10 billion square feet of existing office space in North America, we may not even need to envision new buildings. Rather, by "hacking" existing buildings, architects can transform them into something completely new. For more on Gensler's "hacker" philosophy, read our article here.
Filmed at TEDxToronto in September 2013, this talk by architect, educator and theorist Rodolphe el‐Khoury is based on the inevitable “internet of things.” As TEDxToronto described, “More than ever before, the line between the digital and real worlds is increasingly blurred. Historically, computers and devices have functioned as a separate layer within our lives... In this world, our homes, workplaces, and the objects within them will all be digitally connected, intelligent, and responsive.” It is only a matter of time.
Responding to rising sea level predictions and elevated threats of coasting flooding, Perkins + Will design principle Brian Healy has proposed a replicable, floating residential community for Boston’s harbor: Floatyard. In this TEDx, Healy argues that not only would this radical proposal protect coastal housing investments, it could reengage Charlestown’s industrial harbor. In addition to this, Floatyard's architecture would incorporate solar energy and rainwater harvesting on its roof, as well as capitalize tidal energy from the mooring columns which anchor it.
Disappointed that most architecture is built for the privileged, rather than society, Shigeru Ban has dedicated much of his career to building affordable, livable and safe emergency shelters for post-disaster areas. As described by TED:
Long before sustainability became a buzzword, architect Shigeru Ban had begun his experiments with ecologically-sound building materials such as cardboard tubes and paper. His remarkable structures are often intended as temporary housing, designed to help the dispossessed in disaster-struck nations such as Haiti, Rwanda, or Japan. Yet equally often the buildings remain a beloved part of the landscape long after they have served their intended purpose.
In this TEDxRamallah, Palestinian Architect Saud Amiry – who works in architectural restoration on Palestinian buildings – discusses her journey as someone finding a path for herself. Although she speaks about her nationality and her family’s refugee history, her focus is on learning how to find the things that are fulfilling in one’s life in the face of challenges. Her sense of humor and passion is inspiring. Not only is she an architect working in a field for which she has a passion, she has also stumbled upon the role of an author, having written “Sharon and my Mother–in-Law: Ramallah Diaries”, which is an account of living under Israeli occupation. Even in the dire political circumstances of of her refugee status, Amiry finds humor under tragic circumstances.
More about Amiry after the break…
Who will run the world for the next 100 years? Envision Solar President and CEO Desmond Wheatley argues that it will be whoever has abundant sources of power. That is constructive power, rather than destructive power, which is essential to run the information and technology industries that our world is entirely dependent on. Additionally, Wheatley states that energy equals water. And, with less than 1% of the world’s fresh water available for use, desalination is becoming an increasingly plausible solution. The only problem now is that energy is expensive. But, once cities have the will to switch over to renewables, that will no longer be an issue. Could you imagine San Diego as an net exporter of water? Desmond Wheatley can.
Biology student turn architect, Doris Kim Sung has dedicated her studies to the infinite possibilities of thermobimetals, smart materials that respond dynamically to temperature change. As tested with DO|SU Studio Architecture’s recent installation “Bloom”, whose surface is completely fabricated with thermobimetal, these smart materials are capable of relieving our dependence on energy-inefficient mechanical systems with their self-shading and self-ventilating properties.
Imagine a building skin capable of maintaining thermal comfort in an environmentally responsible and cost effective way by responsively mimicking the characteristics of human skin.
With industrialization came unchecked suburbia and car-centric lifestyles. But now, in the rapidly approaching age of the super city, our current standards of living will not suffice. According to MIT Research Scientist Kent Larson, 21st century cities will account for 90% of global population growth, 80% of all global CO2, and 75% of all global energy use.
Understanding that the global population faces serious issues of overcrowding, affordability and overall quality of life, Larson presents new technologies that intend to make future cities function like the small village of the past. Folding cars and quick-change apartments with robotic walls are just a some of the fascinating innovations he and his colleagues are currently developing.
Thomas Fisher, Professor in the School of Architecture and Dean of the College of Design at the University of Minnesota, discusses the subject matter of his most recent book, Designing To Avoid Disaster: The Nature of Fracture-Critical Design.
Koen Olthuis’s Dutch practice, Waterstudio, has been preparing for the environmental impacts on architecture for ten years now – building a practice on the assumption that a new solution for inhabitation is on the water. Having lived in Amsterdam, Olthuis has intimate experience with the battle against water that people have posed for themselves. In an interview with Jill Fehrenbacher for Inhabitat, Olthuis describes how Amsterdam was settled, what it means to have a city built upon water and the maintenance required. Olthuis’ desire to colonize the oceans is not new, but his techniques, which he touches upon in this TEDx Talk in Warwick, focus on a refined and innovative way of approaching this strategy that is progressive in that it requires far less maintenance.
In this TEDx Talk, Jason Roberts – known as the “The Bike Guy” in his Oak Cliff community outside of Dallas, Texas – gives his audience a how-to guide in improving a community one block at a time as part of a project called “The Better Block“. The project did not start off as an organization with vast goals and strong following; instead it started off with Roberts’ interest and desire to develop his community into one that had a legacy apart from the highways and overpasses that dominate the landscape. Inspired by the rich history and existing street life of European cities with their historic buildings and monuments, plazas, and vistas; Roberts started small and eventually built a foundation and organization that is now nationally recognized and used as a tool to develop cities across the country.
Read on for more after the break.