3D printing technology is becoming more accessible, more affordable, and more useful every day. From factory tooling to movie props, 3D has countless applications – and now, you can even print your own house! In this TED talk, University of Southern California professor Behrokh Khoshnevis talks about scaling up the processes already used in rapid prototyping technology, and working with a 3D printer that can print the structure of a 250 square meter house using concrete.
A major limitation of the technology is that it only prints on a single level. Enrico Dini’s British company D-shape hopes to expand on the possibilities of large-scale 3D printing, and has managed to print a two-level structure, but not a livable home yet. It raises the question of which direction this technology is headed – in the future, will we print taller, leading to constructive new methods of city-building, or will we print wider, increasing the already-rapid pace of suburban sprawl? And if it does lead to sprawl, who will print roads and sewer lines to serve the houses?
Biosynthetic design is usually discussed at the scale of the individual product. But the city – itself a mixture of synthetic interventions within biological systems – can be considered a more complex piece of biosynthetic design. Conversations in urban planning have moved away from blunt engineering and the evisceration of species to serve human convenience, towards balanced management and co-existence. Joyce Hwang discusses the challenges for designers, and gains for citizens, of living in a truly biosynthetic city.
This essay originally appeared in Volume magazine #35. Get your copy here.
A lot of planners give lip service to preparing for higher seas, stronger storms, and hotter summers, but in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, New York is putting its money where its mouth is. The city is considering creating new land in the East River, or constructing Dutch-style floodgates to hold back storms. From a next nature perspective, however, the most interesting proposal is the East River Blueway.
In an effort that restores some of the primeval feel of what was once the lush island of Mannahatta, the Blueway aims to create a series of wetlands and beaches that would absorb the tidal surges from future hurricanes. Lest this sound like another utopian vision, the city has already raised $8 million to revitalize a 4-mile stretch on Manhattan’s east side, and plans to grow a similar “soft edge” at Coney Island. Now that New York no longer needs its waterfront for industry or shipping, it might be time to let (artificial) nature return.
The next guest in our interview series is Dr. Rachel Armstrong, interdisciplinary practitioner and sustainability innovator. Armstrong’s work uses all manners of media to engage audiences and bring them into contact with the latest advances in science and their real potential through the inventive applications of technology, to address some of the biggest problems facing the world today. She designs solutions for the built and natural environment using advanced new technologies and smart chemistry.
You may know Armstrong from her essay Self-Repairing Architecture and her research in living architecture and protocell technology, a new material that possess some of the properties of living systems and can be manipulated to grow architecture.
This German building, called BIK, is covered by panels filled with algae. The building pumps water, nutrients, and compressed CO2 to these panels, so that when the sun shines, the algae multiply. The system collects the algae residue and converts it to biogas, which is then burned to create usable energy. Together with a heat recovery system and solar panels on the roof, the building is completely energy independent.
Via Fast Company.
Imagine your home adapting itself to seasonal, meteorological and even astronomical conditions by changing its shape. D*Dynamic is based on the discovery of mathematician Henry Ernest Dudeney, who found a way to turn a perfect square into an equilateral triangle.
During wintertime the house curls up by contracting the internal walls to thick external walls, minimizing the energy needed for heating. Conversely, on a warm summer day, it will fold out and extend itself. To put it differently, the house resembles the principle of human arteries that expand or contract to preserve the core temperature of your body.
However, there is more in store. The house can direct and rotate itself towards the sun to collect solar energy. If there is sunlight the house could rotate to let it stream into the living room. Or, you might program the house to welcome the morning sun into your bedroom. Wouldn’t it be great to wake up and to have the sun always there to greet you?
If you envision the concept on a slightly larger scale it might make complete neighborhoods more dynamic. Would it mean that you get new neighbors depending on weather conditions? It would certainly be a new way to get to know the people in your town.
Via Daily Mail.
The High Line, the amazing recycling project that converted a former NYC railroad to high-rise park, has inspired the reincarnation of similar disused urban spaces across the globe. As part of the cultural strategy ‘I Make Rotterdam‘, the central district of Rotterdam will be connected with the northern neighborhoods via a raised pedestrian platform. The experience of walking through a living space is comforting to us in an age when everything is artificial and motorized. Interestingly, it seems that the “natural” can not be appreciated unless it is neatly structured in a linear, park-like form.
Using animal blood for building your own house sounds like something from a horror film, but architect Jack Monro has created a set of experimental bricks that take bovine blood as their raw material.
According to Monro the blood bricks are “a potential replacement for mud bricks in regions which have suffered significant rain damage such as Siwa, Egypt”, because it’s a sustainable and cheap way of building houses. A slaughtered bullock, for example, produces over 30 liters of blood. Blood also happens to be one of the most-wasted “materials” in the world.
Beyond the addition of the preservative EDTA no chemicals are required for manufactering the blood bricks. The preservative is added to prevent bacterial and fungal growth in the blood. The relatively low coagulation temperature of blood (over 64 C) would allow for the bricks to be baked using desert sunlight only. All this makes the blood brick a good substitution for conventional building materials.
Monro’s research forms part of a wider trend focusing on the uses of biomaterials, including mushrooms and bamboo, in construction projects.