The concept of prefabrication in construction corresponds to elements, parts or entire buildings produced in a factory and transported to a construction site for a quick installation. This represents numerous advantages over traditional construction methods, such as speed, precision in execution, efficiency, cleanliness of the work and, in many cases, cost. Considering that housing is a primary human need, using industrial methods for the construction of affordable and good quality housing has always interested architects, whether to house growing urban populations or for temporary or emergency settlements, on the most diverse scales. After many attempts throughout history, the question remains whether the popularization of prefabrication in the construction field can be a solution to provide greater equity in access to housing.
Researchers credit the Hanging Gardens of Babylon as the first examples of green roofs. Although there is no proof of its exact location and very little literature on the structure, the most accepted theory is that King Nebuchadnezzar II built a series of elevated, ascending terraces with varied species as a gift to his wife, who missed the forests and mountains of Persia, their local land. According to Wolf Schneider  the gardens were supported by brick vaults, and under them, there were shaded halls cooled by artificial irrigation of the gardens, with a much milder temperature than the outside, in the plains of Mesopotamia (present-day Iraq). Since then, examples of green roofs have appeared all over the world, from Rome to Scandinavia, in the most diverse climates and types.
The choice of Lacaton & Vassal to receive the 2021 Pritzker Prize was, above all, emblematic. Under the mantra “never demolish, never remove or replace, always add, transform and reuse”, the French duo built a career focused on renovating buildings, providing them with spatial quality, efficiency and new programs. Their approach contrasts with most of the architecture we are used to honoring: iconic, imposing and grandiose works. It also contrasts with the notion of the tabula rasa, of building and rebuilding from scratch, so well represented in Le Corbusier’s Ville Radieuse, and which has fascinated architects and urban planners ever since.
Every time we publish an article about Hempcrete, we get a lot of comments on social media – with a certain level of irony – about what would happen if the material caught fire. This is actually a legitimate question, as there is still a lot of confusion about the differences between marijuana and hemp, both of which come from the same plant species (Cannabis Sativa). But while marijuana has psychoactive effects due to tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), mainly present in the flowers of the plant, hemp-based building materials are produced from its stem, which contains small doses of THC. To quickly answer the title question: no, the building won’t be destroyed in the event of a fire. In fact, some tests have shown that these materials have excellent behavior against fire, dissipate flames, maintain structural integrity, and don’t emit toxic smoke.
The art of building a shelter made from blocks of ice is passed on from father to son among the Inuit, native peoples who inhabit the northernmost regions of the planet. The circular plan, the entrance tunnel, the air outlet and the ice blocks form a structure where the heat generated inside melts a superficial layer of snow and seals the gaps, improving the thermal insulation of ice. In a storm, an igloo can be the difference between life and death and perhaps this is the most iconic and radical example of what it means to build with local materials, few tools and lots of knowledge. In this case, ice is all you have.
Wood is an extremely versatile material. It allows for the construction of robust and strong structures, while it can also be used as the raw material for delicate objects such as musical instruments. Understanding all its particularities, properties, and behavior is a journey of knowledge that could take a lifetime. Basically, wood is made up of cellulose, hemicellulose, lignin, and mineral elements, and each species has its own unique characteristics. The history of Stradivarius violins, for example, is interesting to mention: they are still worth fortunes and experts argue that luthiers have never been able to replicate their timbre on newer instruments. Researchers point out that the differentiated sound is due to the wood in the body and arm, which went through a submersion process with a mineral solution that increased the decomposition of hemicellulose. The treatment made the wood absorb less moisture, making the sound brighter and more pleasant.
While we are still trying to understand the possibilities and limits of three-dimensional printing and additive manufacturing, a new term has emerged for our vocabulary. 4D printing is nothing more than a digital manufacturing technology -3D printing- which includes a new dimension: the temporal. This means that the printed material, once ready, will be able to modify, transform or move autonomously due to its intrinsic properties that respond to environmental stimuli.
While bamboo holds incredible potential as a building material, efforts to build durable bamboo structures often fall short with errors made in both the design and building process. Bamboo structures are often criticized for their lack of durability, and before treatment technology was discovered, this was one of the pitfalls to building with bamboo, nowadays however, architecture firms like IBUKU have proven that if designed well, treated right, and maintained a bamboo structure can last a lifetime.
Claude Monet and Vincent van Gogh used the impasto technique extensively in their paintings. Both applied thick layers of oil paint over the canvas, usually one shade at a time, and it was up to the viewer’s brain to mix the colors and create the desired effects. When dry, the paint forms reliefs and textures on the canvas, evoking a sense of movement. Even without being able to touch the screen, the texture of the brushstrokes gives a three-dimensionality to the painting, something that can only be fully observed by seeing the artwork live, looking at it from more than one angle and actually experiencing it.
The first Shikinen Sengu was held in the year 690, in the city of Ise, Mie Prefecture, Japan. It consists of a set of ceremonies lasting up to 8 years, beginning with the ritual of cutting down trees for the construction of the new Ise Shrine and concluding with the moving of the sacred mirror (a symbol of Amaterasu-Omikami) to the new shrine by Jingu priests. Every 20 years, a new divine palace with exactly the same dimensions as the current one is built on a lot adjacent to the main sanctuary. Shikinen Sengu is linked to the Shinto belief in the periodic death and renewal of the universe, while being a way of passing on the ancient wood construction techniques from generation to generation.