Five Technologies to Watch in 2015

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Interactive surfaces, soft machines, and self-healing products are among the developments in architectural technology expected to continue this year. In 1988, the author Tom Forester claimed in The Materials Revolution: Superconductors, New Materials, and the Japanese Challenge (The MIT Press, 1988) that three mega-technologies would one day dominate global industrial activity: information technology, biotechnology, and […]


Visible Green

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New material opportunities in sustainable design Throughout history, the designed environment has been visibly influenced by transformations in technology, culture, and the natural world. Historians like Bashford Dean have visually chronicled the morphological evolution of human products and artifacts over the course of centuries, revealing design’s responsiveness to crises and opportunities. In the latter part […]


Made in Germany by Robots

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Stuttgart University employs robots to fabricate the shell of a pavilion about innovative construction methods. Robots are gaining traction when it comes to the highly precise construction of geometrically complex assemblies. Initially, architects employed them to fabricate small-scale, prototypical installations. But as the technology continues to develop, architects are using machines to create larger, permanent […]


A Coating that Detects Defects in Concrete

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The conductive coating spots surface-level cracks in concrete. Monitoring the integrity of heavy-use infrastructure, such as bridges and tunnels, is critical to maintaining a resilient built environment. But managing extensive systems in real-time can be a challenge. To address the issue, researchers have been at work on integrated sensors and skins that obtain qualitative information […]


Highways of the Sun

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The federally funded prototype project could one day feed the grid and power electric vehicles. Solar power has an area problem. Unlike fossil fuels, which pack large amounts of energy into small volumes, solar power relies on each unit of area delivering relatively small quantities of harvestable energy. When it comes to building-integrated photovoltaics, this […]


Star-Crossed Paths

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Pro-Teq Surfacing’s photoluminescent finish gives paving new life in a brilliant way. Illuminating the outdoors can be a good—and necessary—thing in areas of pedestrian and vehicular traffic. While NighTec Leuchtsteine’s luminous pavers, Studio Roosegaarde’s Smart Highway, and BIG’s Digital Interactive Roadway are either still in the early stages of development or have proven too costly […]


Iron Man

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Steel is the world’s most widely recycled material, but its high embodied energy is roughly equivalent to that of concrete. A new method to extract iron from virgin resources might give the metal alloy the environmental edge after all. With a manufacturing process responsible for 7 percent of the world’s carbon-dioxide emissions, concrete often gets […]


Out of Thin Air

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“Design similes” emulate biological processes for environmental benefit in the production of everyday goods. In recent years, the desire to emulate botanical processes for environmental benefit has inspired “design similes,” such as cities that behave like forests, buildings that act as trees, or products that operate like plants. Although such comparisons serve to promote ideal […]


Paper or Plastic?

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Australian company Zeoform has created a biodegradeable plastic with nothing more than recycled paper waste and water. Someday it may clad one of your projects. Cellulose is the most pervasive natural polymer on the planet. As the primary structural material in plants, it is essentially a long chain of connected sugars. We encounter cellulose in […]


Natural Advantage

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Though modern technologies may seem incredible, humanity can learn a lot from nature, which has evolution on its side. Nature has created many miraculous things, but humanity has added a few inventions of its own. Or has it? Scientists at the University of Cambridge recently discovered something unexpected in nature: a cog mechanism with an […]