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.
We recently talked with Rachel Armstrong about living buildings, Venice’s foundations, millennial nature and how to improve our future.
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.
Roads are a ubiquitous, even defining aspect of our urban and suburban spaces. In the United States alone, parking lots and roads cover 16,000 square kilometers. So why must roads be gray, plain and a general waste of space? Dutch designer Daan Roosegarde, inventor of the Intimacy Dress, wants to take the technology from his Sustainable Dance Floor and apply it to the highway of the future.
The vibrations of cars over the road surface will create energy for streetlights and will power electric cars and scooters at charging stations. These “smart” roads could be further equipped with sensors to report ice, rain, temperature or traffic conditions. Roosegarde’s proposal for an energy-generating highway isn’t the first: There’s been plans for solar roadways in the US, electromagnetic roadways in China, and a piezo-electric road similar to Roosegarde’s in Israel.
The same way Einstein assumes the speed of light to be a constant of reference for his Theory of Relativity, the philosophy of biomimicry assumes Nature as a constant of reference to a performance-based beauty for design.
Imitating nature has become a meaningful approach for contemporary architects and design futurists to the built environment, especially for those who foster a future that doesn’t compete with nature but coexist with it. At the light of recent natural disasters around the world, especially those geologically associated such as tsunamis and earthquakes, which have proven its destruction power over the current built environment; architects and structural engineers have found in biomimicry an ecological approach in order to improve future building’s disaster resilience.
Keiichiro Sako of Sako Architects has proposed constructing giant, drum-shaped islands on dry land as a means to protect residents of Tohoku from future tsunamis. The elevated disks come equipped with renewable energy sources in case of emergency, and gates that automatically close after a tsunami warning. While one town is already making a move to install an “island”, the cost and culture may prove prohibitive for wide-scale implementation. With a price tag of 20 billion yen, and a futuristic look, residents of conservation coastal towns may not appreciate the design.
We’re used to seeing proposals for high-tech vertical farms that never seem to translate to real life, but the city of Linköping in Sweden has finally taken these buildings out of the realm of glossy CG models. Plantagon International is building a 17-story vertical greenhouse, slated to open by 2013, that will have a “transportation helix” to transfer vegetables and grains within its enormous spherical space. The greenhouse promises to parasitize on the excess heat, CO2 and waste produced by the city, using it for warmth and fertilizer. The design cuts transportation costs, and perhaps most impressively, promises the equivalent of 100,000 square meters of arable land on a 10,000 square meter footprint. Still no word on whether building a gigantic steel and glass structure is more carbon-efficient than conventional farming, but retrofitting existing office buildings might help take care of this problem.