New concrete roof includes thin-film PV cells to generate power

October 20, 2017 by  
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Digital design and fabrication techniques allowed researchers in Switzerland to create a curvy, super thin concrete roof that will one day help a residential unit produce more power than it consumes. Using the innovative methods, the researchers assembled the roof with much less materials than would otherwise be needed. The concrete roof is also equipped with thin-film photovoltaic cells to generate energy. Researchers at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich (ETH Zurich) recently unveiled the prototype for a sinuous, self-supporting concrete roof. The roof is comprised of multiple layers, including concrete , heating and cooling coils, insulation, and more concrete fitted with thin film solar cells. The prototype was around 25-feet-tall, with a surface area of around 1,722 feet squared. The average thickness of the concrete was around two inches; the support surfaces had a thickness of 4.7 inches and the edges of the roof were just around one inch thick. Related: The company that offered integrated solar roofs before Elon Musk A cable net supporting a polymer textile provided the formwork for the concrete roof. The researchers used a precise concrete mix, fluid enough to be sprayed but firm enough to not flow off. Professor of Architecture and Structures Philippe Block said in a statement, “We’ve shown that it’s possible to build an exciting thin concrete shell structure using a lightweight, flexible formwork, thus demonstrating that complex concrete structures can be formed without wasting large amounts of material for their construction.” The prototype has already been dismantled to make room for other experiments, but in 2018, the roof will be erected atop materials science and technology research institute Empa ‘s HiLo Penthouse. Guest faculty will live and work in the penthouse, which is expected to produce more energy that it uses thanks to the concrete roof’s solar cells and what ETH Zurich described as an adaptive solar facade . Via ETH Zurich Images © Block Research Group, ETH Zurich/Michael Lyrenmann and © Block Research Group, ETH Zurich/Naida Iljazovic

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New concrete roof includes thin-film PV cells to generate power

World’s first 3D-printed bridge opens in the Netherlands

October 18, 2017 by  
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The Netherlands just made history by officially opening the world’s first 3D-printed bridge. On Tuesday, Dutch officials celebrated the opening of the innovative bridge, which is 8 meters (26 ft) long and located near the town of Gemert. Thanks to reinforced, pre-stressed concrete and 3D-printing techniques, the bridge (which is primarily intended for cyclists) can safely bear the weight of 40 trucks. In total, the structure took just three months to build. Said Theo Salet, from the Eindhoven University of Technology, “The bridge is not very big, but it was rolled out by a printer which makes it unique.” Using 3D-printing techniques, less concrete is used than would be required to fill a conventional mold. Says the official website, “a printer deposits the concrete only where it is needed.” The bridge, which is 8 meters (26 feet) long, spans a water-filled ditch to connect two roads. Though the bridge is intended to be used by cyclists , the BAM Infra construction company determined that it can safely bear loads of up to two tonnes — or 40 trucks — through testing. It took the company just 3 months to build the bridge, which has approximately 800 layers. Related: This twisting tower is made out of 2,000 3D-printed terracotta bricks Said the head of BAM, Marinus Schimmel, in a statement , “We are looking to the future. Schimmel added that BAM is ”searching for a newer, smarter approach to addressing infrastructure issues and making a significant contribution to improving the mobility and sustainability of our society.” This project also established the eco-friendly benefits of 3D printing. “Fewer scarce resources were needed, and there was significantly less waste,” said Schimmel. The Netherlands is but one country experimenting with 3D-printed infrastructure. The United States and China, for instance, are using the cutting-edge technology to create structures from scratch without relying on traditional manpower. Elsewhere in The Netherlands, a Dutch start-up called MX3D has started printing a stainless-steel bridge . Reportedly, up to one-third is already completed, and they aim to complete it by March of 2018. Time will reveal what other fascinating, environmentally-friendly structures will be constructed using 3D printing . + Eindhoven University of Technology Via Phys Images via Eindhoven University of Technology

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World’s first 3D-printed bridge opens in the Netherlands

Solar-powered Cottage in the Vineyard puts a modern spin on rural architecture

September 22, 2017 by  
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Ramón Esteve Estudio completed a minimalist mono-pitched dwelling that blends into its agricultural backdrop yet still catches the eye with its modern design. Located in the rural outskirts of Valencia, Spain, the Cottage in the Vineyard was designed to perfectly integrate into the landscape and features full-height glazing to blur the lines of indoor/outdoor living. The home also sits lightly on the landscape with its use of solar panels, natural insulation, energy-efficient lighting, and rainwater harvesting systems. Located between pine forests and grapevine fields, Cottage in the Vineyard marks a threshold between the cultivated and wild landscape. The house takes on a long linear shape made with a white concrete shell intersected by boxy thermally modified pine containers. Each pine structure features large glazed end-walls to frame views of the landscape. The structure is topped with a pitched roof in the image of a standard traditional rural house. Related: Vineyard House uses rammed earth to stay cool in Portugal’s hot summers “Environmentally, it follows the guidelines for a passive house ,” said Ramón Esteve. “Appropriate means are available to take advantage of renewable energy through the use of panels of solar energy, energy supply from biomass or collecting and storing drinkable rain water.” The Cottage in the Vineyard uses rock wool for thermal insulation. Cross ventilation is optimized through the home’s concrete spine. + Ramón Esteve Estudio Via Gessato Images by Mariela Apollonio

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Solar-powered Cottage in the Vineyard puts a modern spin on rural architecture

Giant bamboo planters protect a Ho Chi Minh City home from the sun and rain

September 7, 2017 by  
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Vo Trong Nghia Architects worked their bamboo magic on a slender residence in Vietnam’s Ho Chi Minh City . In a bid to add green space in the city’s increasingly dense concrete jungle, the architects installed giant bamboo-filled planters to the building’s street-facing facade. Located in the city’s colorful and bustling central urban district, the House in District 1 uses the green screens for privacy, air purification, shading, and visual appeal. From the street, the House in District 1 looks like a series of stacked and staggered planters bursting with bushy bamboo . The overgrown effect contrasts sharply with the home’s minimalist and modern design. Concrete is predominately used and is texturized to lessen its monolithic appearance. “In addition to growing bamboo on the front facade, the concrete formwork is also made by using bamboo to allow a consistent design language,” said Vo Trong Nghia Architect, according to Dezeen . “The bamboo texture also helps to reduce the intense and heavy appearance of conventional concrete wall and thus, improves the overall aesthetic quality of the house.” Related: Lush green rooftop terrace invites homeowners outdoors in the foothills of Vietnam The four-story Ho Chi Minh residence features a guest room and entry hall on the first floor with an open-plan living room, dining area, and kitchen on the floor above. The kids’ bedroom and the master bedroom with ensuite bathroom are located on the second and third floors, respectively. The top floor houses the home office that opens up to an outdoor rooftop swimming pool. The bamboo planters are on every floor and provide privacy, shade, and protection from the tropical rains. + Vo Trong Nghia Architects Via Dezeen Images via Hiroyuki Oki

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Giant bamboo planters protect a Ho Chi Minh City home from the sun and rain

Australian facility aims to produce 50,000 metric tons of building material from CO2 by 2020

August 25, 2017 by  
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Mineral Carbonation International wants to transform Carbon dioxide emissions into useful building materials . The Australian firm just unveiled a pilot plant at the Newcastle Institute for Energy and Resources that will attempt to mimic, but speed up, the weathering process by which rainfall produces rocks . MCi launched their technology with a demonstration of their process to transform CO2 into building products. They capture the CO2 from mining company Orica’s Kooragang Island operations. According to The Guardian, CO2 bonds with the rock serpentinite to create solid carbonates in an hour-long process. On their website, MCi says the material could potentially be used for cement , bricks, or plasterboards. Related: Why 2,000-year-old Roman concrete is stronger than our own At the same site at the University of Newcastle , a first-generation batch plant has been operating since 2016, but the university described this new semi-continuous pilot plant as the first of its kind, and said with both plants running MCi will be able to conduct research to hone the process and generate materials for testing. MCi hopes to be generating 20,000 to 50,000 metric tons of the material for use in building by 2020. MCi CEO Marcus Dawe said in a statement, “We need solutions to climate change . We need technology that is ready and tested by the time we have solved the pricing of carbon in our economy. Like the adoption of renewables in energy production, our technology aims to help decarbonize industries like cement, steel, and chemical production.” University of Melbourne geologist Peter Cook said MCi has shown the technology works chemically, but it may not offer a single solution to the large issue of climate change. He told The Guardian, “I think it’s one of these processes where you’ll be able to make money from it in the local area. The difficulty is, for instance we’re getting 36 billion tonnes of CO2 per annum from our use of fossil fuel .” He did say he didn’t want to diminish the great value in MCi’s work. + Mineral Carbonation International Via The Guardian and University of Newcastle Images via Orica and University of Newcastle

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Australian facility aims to produce 50,000 metric tons of building material from CO2 by 2020

These wooden blocks can be stacked up to create cabins, treehouses, and wilderness shelters

July 31, 2017 by  
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Most cabins lie flat upon the earth – but Ofis Arhitekti just unveiled a wooden retreat that’s stacked up into the sky. The architects worked with C+C , C28 and AKT to create a beautiful library made from modular blocks at Ljubljana’s landmark medieval fortress. The basic modular unit provides accommodation for two people, with a kitchen, a bathroom, a bed and seating. If that isn’t enough space, the units can be stacked horizontally or vertically in order to form different configurations to accommodate a variety of locations and needs. Related: Three stacked spruce ‘shoeboxes’ reimagine a 1934 house in Ljubljana The units can be used as holiday cabins, tree houses, research units and shelters . The cabin can be fixed on the ground either by steel anchors or removable concrete cubes, making the interior space endlessly flexible and adjustable based on changing needs. The unit at Ljubljana Castle will serve as a temporary library, with each floor containing books on various topics. Spaces for reading and rest are tucked underneath the underpasses, and offer stunning views of the city. Both the structure and cladding promote Slovenian woodworking, traditional wood crafts and carpentry. + Ofis Arhitekti Photos by Janez Martincic  

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These wooden blocks can be stacked up to create cabins, treehouses, and wilderness shelters

BIG hides an invisible museum beneath Denmarks sand dunes

July 14, 2017 by  
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Don’t be fooled by these gentle sand dunes—hidden in the landscape is an “invisible museum.” Bjarke Ingels Group designed TIRPITZ, a recently opened museum embedded into Denmark’s protected Blåvand shorelines, also a historic war site. The TIRPITZ museum offers a unique experience within a building that skillfully camouflages into the dunes, providing a sharp contrast to its neighbor, a monolithic German WWII bunker . Developed by Varde Museums , TIRPITZ is a cultural complex comprising four exhibitions inside a renovated and expanded wartime bunker. The 2,800-square-meter “invisible museum” is mostly buried underground and looks nearly imperceptible from above until visitors draw close to the heavy bunker and see the walls cut into the dunes from all sides. An outdoor courtyard provides access to the four underground galleries—illuminated with a surprising abundance of natural light let in by 6-meter-tall glass panels—that connect to the historic bunker. “The architecture of the TIRPITZ is the antithesis to the WWII bunker,” said Bjarke Ingels , Founding Partner at BIG. “The heavy hermetic object is countered by the inviting lightness and openness of the new museum. The galleries are integrated into the dunes like an open oasis in the sand – a sharp contrast to the Nazi fortress’ concrete monolith. The surrounding heath-lined pathways cut into the dunes from all sides descending to meet in a central clearing, bringing daylight and air into the heart of the complex. The bunker remains the only landmark of a not so distant dark heritage that upon close inspection marks the entrance to a new cultural meeting place.” Related: Century-old WWI bunker is reborn as a contemporary alpine shelter Dutch agency Tinker Imagineers designed the exhibitions to showcase permanent and temporary themed experiences that adhere to a storyline, from the Hitler-related ‘Army of Concrete’ to the exhibition of amber in ‘Gold of the West Coast.’ The building is built mainly of concrete, steel, glass, and wood—all materials found in the existing structures and natural landscape. The groundbreaking museum is expected to attract around 100,000 visitors annually. + BIG Images by Mike Bink Photography, Laurian Ghinitoiu,  John Seymour, Rasmus Hjortshoj, Colin John Seymour, Rasmus Bendix

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BIG hides an invisible museum beneath Denmarks sand dunes

This amazing underground house in Greece frames views of an olive grove

June 5, 2017 by  
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This underground holiday home in Greece is topped with a green roof that offers panoramic views of the Peloponnese peninsula. The owners commissioned LASSA Architects to design a house that would activate the periphery of the plot and provide a vantage point from which to observe the surroundings. The 1614-square-foot Villa Ypsilon is located in an olive grove in southern Peloponnese. A three-pronged concrete shell forms the roof and establishes three courtyards with different exposures to the sun. An eye-shaped swimming pool and sun deck are partially sheltered underneath a concrete lip that defines the green roof. Two other curved facades frame a sunken seating area and the main entrance to the building. Related: Take a Peek at a Stunning Secret Swiss Villa Hidden Into a Mountainside! “The design of the concrete shell and the courtyards’ orientation is such that it produces shadows at specific times of the day,” said the architects. “We are interested in the idea of form integration. That is, that form can be the result of overlapping and precise design decisions . . . in this case the vaulting concrete shell is structural, its bisecting axes frames specific views, its sloping [form] makes it walkable and its extent is a result of environmental optimization.” Related: Beautiful Underground Aloni House Blends in With The Earth Most of the structure is prefabricated, which significantly reduced assembly costs and construction time. The architects used a CNC machine to fabricate prototypes of the concrete shell and develop the final shape of the house. The use of locally sourced materials – such as concrete, terrazzo and marble – root the design in its cultural and geographic context. + LASSA Architects Via Dezeen Photos by NAARO

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This amazing underground house in Greece frames views of an olive grove

Buried Buddhist shrine unites man and nature in harmony

May 11, 2017 by  
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You don’t need to be a Zen master to appreciate this green-roofed Buddhist shrine in rural China. Designed by Arch Studio , the contemporary shrine is partially buried to minimize site disruption and to blend into the landscape. The building emphasizes connection with nature through its design and framed views of the woods and river beyond. Located in the outskirts of Tangshan by the riverbank, the Buddhist shrine serves as a space for meditation and contemplation. The concrete building is mostly buried underground and is embedded between seven mature trees. The shrine’s various rooms splay out like branches from a large central space and include the entrance, meditation room, tea room , living room, and bathroom. “The design started from the connection between the building and nature and adopts the method of earthing to hide the building under the earth mound while presenting the divine temperament of nature with flowing interior space,” said Arch Studio. “A place with power of perception where trees, water, Buddha and human coexist is thus created.” Related: ARCHSTUDIO inserts a modern teahouse into an ancient Chinese structure The concrete surfaces are textured with the natural grain patterns from the pine formwork. Furnishings are constructed from gray-toned timber to match the concrete walls while the smooth terrazzo interior flooring contrasts with the outdoor white gravel. Skylights and large windows let in natural light and framed views. Courtyards with trees and bamboo punctuate the building. + Arch Studio Via Dezeen

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Buried Buddhist shrine unites man and nature in harmony

Nature and art overlap in this sinuous pavilion in Taipei City

January 19, 2017 by  
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Indoor and outdoor scenery overlap in this sinuous pavilion by Emerge Architects . The SINICA Eco-Pavilion was tailored to the existing trees on the site, and meanders in-between them to create an organic space where nature is as much on display as the exhibition housed inside the building. The building, located within a restoration area of Taipei ‘s leading academic institution, Academia Sinica, features long stretches of curved glass surfaces that facilitate ambiguous spatial perception for visitors. The line between the inside and outside disappears as one navigates the interior space and explores different exhibitions. Different spatial pockets such as the lobby, screening room and exhibition areas create fluid transitions. Related: Sinuous concrete pavilion is a spiritual oasis at the City of Hope research and treatment center Through interdisciplinary integration and collaboration between curators and architects, the pavilion establishes a strong dialogue with its surroundings. This diminished the distinction between architecture, landscape and art, merging them all into a single, unified experience. + Emerge Architects Via Architizer Photos by Kyle Yu, Sam Yang, WK Chou

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Nature and art overlap in this sinuous pavilion in Taipei City

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