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Materials / Systems

Trim Tab 24 / Net zero water at Bertschi School

  Trim Tab v 24  The Water Issue – Winter 2015 issue of the International Living Future Institute’s quarterly digital magazine focuses on water, on “people and projects that are rethinking how water is used in the built environment…” Among its many good articles is one called Bertschi School: The Water Petal about the science …

Super-light materials / Ideas at Davos

    Hierarchical Design & Solar Panels: A World Economic Forum Discussion –  in this 3-min video clip Caltech materials scientist Julia Greer explains how hierarchical design can help create very light-weight materials – “up to 99% air, but that yet retain the high stiffness and high strength of their …

No-nails structural wood – Shigeru Ban’s Tamedia office building

  Shigeru Ban: Tamedia office building in Zurich completed – new seven-story office for Swiss media company sited along the Sihl Canal consists of an interlocking wooden structure within a glass skin.  The architect was inspired by both the vernacular Swiss use of wood and techniques of Japanese joinery.  The …

Curry Stone Design Prize winner – Hunnarshala

Hunnarshala, Bhuj, India, 2013 Winner – Hunnarshala is a group of architects and engineers that was formed in response to a major disaster in northern India.  It “is based on legitimizing and giving dignity to the building artisan community that has been the repository of so much knowledge….”  They work …

Piano’s single-room dream

Diogene: A cabin designed by Renzo Piano and RPBW for Vitra – Diogene is a single-room prototype cabin, a minimalist house of 2.5 x 3 meters that “functions completely autonomously as a self-contained system and is thus independent of its environment.” Since his student days architect Piano has been fascinated …

Piranha etching, nanowire solar cells, and the photovoltaic holy grail

  “Piranha Etching” Could Push Nanowire Solar Cells Way Past Theoretical Limits – research in Holland is showing how to dramatically increase the efficiency of nanowire solar cells using ‘piranha etching’, a method of chemically cleaning the surface of the wires.  The large surface area of nanowire tends to have …

Azure 2013 Awards of Merit

Announcing the AZ Awards of Merit – annual design awards in residential architecture (shown here), furniture design, residential interiors, temporary architecture, furniture systems, commercial architecture over and under 1,000 square meters, landscape architecture, commercial interiors, concepts, and student work.  Images for all the finalists are here.

2013 R&D 100 Award Winners

  R&D Magazine 2013 R&D 100 Winners – list of the 100 “most technologically significant products introduced into the marketplace over the past year.”  (see the accompanying press release)  Winners are in alphabetical order by primary developer company or research institution.   The R&D 100 Awards recognize excellence across a …

Shed of the Year

      Shed of the Year: boat-roofed creation sails to victory – annual competition in the UK got almost 2000 entrants this year.  See some of the others at Shed of the Year 2013 entrants. Why sheds?   From Shed of the year contest trumpets UK’s love of garden hideaways: Novelist …

Mirrored ductwork extends daylight

  Mirror Duct System – post on Transmaterial about a duct system that’s lined with reflective aluminum mirrors which can “extend light as much as sixty feet inside a structure.”   Developed by Tokyo-based Material House, Mirror Duct System is a completely passive technology that contributes to CO2 reduction by …

Strawscraper, energy from wind

  Stockholm’s strawscraper will produce electricity from thousands of wind-agitated straws – skyscraper addition designed by Belatchew Arkitekter’s Labs studio applies piezoelectric technology via “hair-like material that harvests energy from the wind.” From the architect’s website: The straws of the facade consist of a composite material with piezoelectric properties that can …

Secret of ancient Roman concrete

Ancient Roman Concrete Is About to Revolutionize Modern Architecture – researchers at Berkeley Lab have analyzed the concrete from Roman ruins in 11 Mediterranean harbors and discovered why so many of them are intact despite two thousand years of pounding by the sea.  The composition of that ancient concrete and method …

New issue of ArchiAfrika

  ArchiAfrika Magazine #2 – this second issue covers a wide range of topics, from the cover story on musician Hugh Masakela to African architects at Milan Design Week (shown here) to recycling practices in 6 African cities to community-built compressed-earth block schools in the Dogon to informal housing in Accra …

New passive cooling material for buildings

          New Cooling Technology for Buildings Works In the Full Heat of a Sunny Day – electrical engineers at Stanford have discovered a “metal-dielectric photonic structure” that acts like a mirror to solar light reflecting the Sun’s energy, emits what it reflects within a specific range of …

Living willow hedges

  Living Willow Hedges – post with photos of hedges, or hedgerows, made with live willow.  Living fences woven from the genus Salix work in the Northern Hemisphere where they are native and root easily. More on living fences:  Multifunctional Living Fences – includes benefits / disadvantages, suitable species, how …

Smart textile for medical use

New textile technologies developed for emergencies – a Spanish technology transfer group, Tecnalia Research & Innovation, has developed a smart textile with the ability to change shapes. Verstiff is a flexible textile that, when subjected to a vacuum, becomes as hard as conventional plastic.  Releasing the vacuum reverts the textile to …

Cool roofs – Blue roofs

    Cool Blue Roofs May Be The Secret To Energy Savings – on the amount of energy savings that could be realized if more buildings had ‘cool’ roofs, roofs that reflect rather than absorb sunlight. The Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory’s Heat Island Group says a national campaign could save …