Wooden floors bring warmth, personality and style to any interior space, whether old or new. Rustic and elegant, wood also has excellent thermal properties, a pleasant temperature to the touch, and can even improve the acoustics of a space by absorbing sound waves. They are also highly durable and resistant to daily use. It is therefore no surprise that they are one of the favorite and most coveted materials for residential interiors. Wooden flooring is also very visually appealing, with a huge amount of variations possible in its design. Pieces can vary greatly depending on which part of the trunk they come from, even if they are from the same manufacturer and tree species. Colors and designs also vary according to different tree species, from light yellows to dark browns, with infinite possibilities. In addition, it is possible to create various types of patterns when laying the floor, according to the dimensions of the pieces used and the desired effect for the space.
The practice of frequenting public baths was common in civilizations such as the Greeks, Persians and Byzantines, but it was the Romans who popularized their use as places of socialization and purification. These bathrooms were communal and people sat side by side in a collective latrine. The modern bathroom, more similar to what we know today, began with Sir John Harington and his invention of the first flush toilet in 1596. Another crucial advance occurred with Alexander Cummings in 1775, which included a siphon within the toilet to retain gases and odors. But it was only when houses were equipped with running water and effective drainage in the second half of the nineteenth century that the modern private bathroom emerged: a bathroom, a sink and a bath place, which can be a shower or a bathtub. The basics have remained almost unchanged since then, with a few cultural variations in different parts of the world.
Museums play a key role in the preservation and dissemination of culture and knowledge. They can exhibit works of art, documents, photographs, historical artifacts or even plants and trees. Although today there are entirely virtual exhibition spaces, the primary functions of traditional museums are the conservation and protection of objects, which are invaluable due to their historical relevance or market value. From simple “Do not touch” signs to tape, security guards, or glass displays, each object receives a type of protection that is in accordance to its needs. These types of protection, in turn, must consider both the safety of the object, whilst also allowing for its appreciation and conservation, creating a controlled environment for the exposed object that preserves it indefinitely.
When browsing the 3D printing tag on ArchDaily, it is clear that this technology has developed at an incredibly fast pace. If in the early years we observed the concept as a distant possibility for the future or with small-scale examples, in recent years we have observed entire printed buildings and increasingly complex volumes being produced. Developed by reading a computer file, the fabrication is carried out through additive manufacturing with concrete – or other construction materials – and presents numerous difficulties in providing an efficient process that enables the constructive technique to become widespread. The pavilion printed by the Huizenprinters consortium, for example, illustrates this process well.
Forests cover about a third of the planet and play a fundamental role for life on Earth. According to Peter Wohlleben, author of the book “The Secret Life of Trees”, through fungal weaves, specimens of a forest can communicate with each other, exchange nutrients, help out the weakest plants, and organize survival strategies, which is essential for the healthy growth of individuals. The preservation of existing forests and the creation of new ones are essential for biodiversity and natural recovery, but also to meet the demand for wood. According to a report by the WWF (World Wide Fund for Nature), it is estimated that the amount of wood harvested in the world will triple by the year 2050, with the increase in population and income in developing countries. In addition, it is estimated that there will be an increased use of wood to manufacture biofuels, pharmaceuticals, plastics, cosmetics, consumer electronics and textiles. Searching for wood substitutes can be a smart path towards a sustainable future, especially if the alternatives are made using waste generated by other industries. Pyrus, for example, is an oil-free wood material produced sustainably with bacterial cellulose waste repurposed from the kombucha industry.
Textures can calm us, bring warmth or even guide us. They elicit our sense of touch and also affect us visually. This is because lights and shadows tend to form in relation to the irregularities and shapes that are present in some textures, which can in turn clearly differentiate these types of materials from other surfaces. For many, the idea of a space surrounded with white, smooth walls can be disturbing and monotonous. Embellishments such as paints, the inclusion of natural coatings or other elements can easily transform a space, emphasizing certain parts or creating new and attractive visuals. In interior design projects, textured walls have always been a popular way to add prominence to a space, either via the constructive system of building – such as brick or exposed concrete walls – or through different types of coatings that can be added later on.
Let us return to the first architecture class on structures and the classification of structural efforts. In most structures, whether natural or man-made, compression forces are the primary actors. These are efforts undertaken with equal and opposing loads, applied in the interior of the structure, which tend towards the shortening of the piece in one direction – or compressing it, as the name indicates. It is not difficult to find examples of this: for example, a stone wall or a wooden log can resist the weight of a covering through internal compression efforts that are inherent to each material. Tension efforts, on the other hand, tend to lengthen components in the direction of the applied force of action. Steel, for example, is a material with good tensile strength. It is used in reinforced concrete precisely in the parts where the piece is in traction. But it is also possible for a structure to only have tensile parts, as is the case of membrane, tensioned, or tension structures, which consist of surfaces pulled by the action of cables or ropes in which the masts absorb compression efforts.
Metal façades give buildings an air of sophistication and modernity. They also bring a cleanness to the façade, due to their precise fabrication and well-resolved connections between other materials and building elements. There are currently multiple product options available for coatings, offering extensive colour options, including metallics, with different levels of durability (natural aging and corrosion). One of the main issues when approaching metal façades is the risk of corrosion, which can create points of weakness in the material and interfere with the aesthetics of the building. So, with this in mind, what do architects need to focus on to ensure that building envelopes age gracefully, while maintaining aesthetics and performance over time?
Artificial lighting plays an essential role in spatial quality. Badly thought-out lights can disrupt an architecture project and even bring harmful effects to occupants’ health; while a well-balanced luminotechnic project can highlight positive aspects of the surroundings and make it much more enjoyable. Generally, however, projects tend to be too rigid and not in-tune with the flexibility of contemporary spaces. In addition, a badly made lighting decision can be complex and expensive to rectify. For example, electrical points in slabs, linings or walls are not easily modified if the distribution of a space is changed. At most, when this is resolved with hanging or free-standing lamps, we end up having to deal with bothersome electrical wires throughout the space.
Cladding systems have important functions in buildings. They can confer thermal insulation, protect internal spaces from the weather and–just as important–give the building a “face”, improving its appearance and clearly identifying the element of design. “Cladding” refers to the components that are linked to the structure of a building to form non-structural external surfaces. While in the past wooden cladding was the only option, there are currently multiple possibilities of materials, colors, weights, textures, anchoring systems, and many other variables available. Below, we outline some of the main materials used for façade cladding, and the projects that use them in a remarkable way: