Category: architecture

An Architect Made Floating Homes, And They Are Hurricane-Proof

Living in a Water World

We know that people are the largest source of gas emissions, with a majority of greenhouse gases coming from us burning fossil fuels for heat and transportation. These emissions led to global warming, which in turn increased the temperatures of our ocean water. Earlier this year, we saw the consequences of having warmer oceans when Hurricane Harvey struck Houston, Texas. Due to Harvey’s presence, a significant number of homes and buildings were damaged, flooded, and lost.

Needless to say, we’ve only reached the cusp of this dangerous series of events, and catastrophes are sure to worsen until proper measures to reduce carbon emissions are put into place, and most importantly: enforced. But waiting for the world to come to its senses isn’t the only option people have to reduce our carbon footprint. Some, like Dutch architect Koen Olthuis, have taken to designing homes located on the water — homes that not only produce zero-emissions, but are also hurricane-proof.

One possible layout of Arkup's floating homes. Image Credit: Arkup
One possible layout of Arkup’s floating homes. Image Credit: Arkup

According to Inhabitat, Olthuis — with his studio Waterstudio — collaborated with “avant-garde life on the water” company Arkup to design the floating homes. Each unit is about 4,350 square feet, with Olthuis and Arkup’s latest structure containing 4 bedrooms and 4.5 bathrooms. Through a combination of solar panels, as well as water purification and waste management systems, they can operate entirely off the grid.

Ready for Anything

The livable yachts come installed with 30-kW solar panels and 1,000 kWh of lithium-ion batteries. Rainwater is collected on the roof and transported to the home’s hull, where it’s then purified for future use. There’s also plenty of space to comfortably move around, including the 24×12 foot sliding terrace that lets you step outside and enjoy the view.

Arkup says its yachts are “a new way of living on the water, making you feel 100% safe and protected,” and we’re inclined to agree. Each home is equipped with shock-resistant glass panels to prevent shattering, and a hydraulic self-elevating system that can raise the home in the event of heavy rainfall or a hurricane; each hydraulic leg can also extend up to 40 feet. If that wasn’t enough, the hydraulic legs can move the unit at a speed of 7 knots (8 mph).

Concept image of the floating home with hydraulic legs. Image Credit: Arkup
Concept image of the floating home with hydraulic legs. Image Credit: Arkup

It’s a stylish way to live on the water, and yet another example that the homes we choose to live in can positively affect our environment. The white forest tower in Paris is further proof of that, as are the wooden skyscrapers and plyscrapers that are expected to reduce our carbon emissions. Only time will tell how effective such structures will be, but if the price is right, we could come to live in a world where a majority of us live on water instead of on land.

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White Forest Tower in Paris Will Fight Climate Change With 2,000 Plants

Enter the White Forest of Paris

A new high tower is being constructed in Paris, France, and it will be unlike any other building in the city. Instead, it will be made entirely out of wood, and adorned with a large number of plants.

Italian firm Stefano Boeri Architetti is behind the design, which has since been named Forêt Blanche (“White Forest”). Set to be erected in the Parisian suburb of Villiers-sur-Marne, Forêt Blanche will be 54-meters (177 ft) tall and will be covered by nearly 2000 trees, shrubs and plants.

Concept image of Stefano Boeri Architetti's Forêt Blanche/White Forest. Image Credit: Stefano Boeri Architetti
Concept image of Stefano Boeri Architetti’s Forêt Blanche/White Forest. Image Credit: Stefano Boeri Architetti

The lower floors of Forêt Blanche will contain offices and retail services, while higher floors will contain luxury apartments. All four sides of the tower will have balconies and terraces, with the East and West sides featuring a number of windows that will, as the Italian company explains, “allow the passage of sunlight all day, giving natural illumination and ventilation to the apartments and an exceptional panorama on the landscape of central Paris.”

Plants Are More Than Decoration

Incorporating thousands of plant-life species into the White Forest’s design wasn’t simply a stylistic choice. The firm explains in its announcement post that it wants to go beyond using trees and shrubs to improve the aesthetic of their structures — it also wants to contribute to the fight against climate change and promote biodiversity in urban settings.

As we know, trees absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and store it within themselves; they also provide shade and can cool the pavement beneath them, thereby reducing the overall temperature in a city — which are often lacking in trees. As discovered by researchers earlier this month in Los Angeles, pavements cooled by the presence of trees are more beneficial than the addition of reflective pavements.

While construction on Forêt Blanche is under way, Stefano Boeri Architetti told Business Insider there is as of yet no set timeline for completion. Meaning we’ll have to wait and see how the project progresses, and if its use of plants really aid the struggle against climate change. If it’s a success, it may prompt other companies to follow their lead.

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Scientists Have Created a Concrete Roof That Generates Solar Power

Sunny Outlook

Researchers at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich have developed a new form of ultra-thin, curved roofing that’s capable of producing solar power. The design will allow a residential structure that’s part of the school’s living lab facility, NEST, to generate more energy than it consumes.

The roof is made up of several layers; an inner sheet of concrete, which acts as a foundation for heating and cooling coils and insulation, which are in turn covered by more concrete. Thin-film photovoltaic cells used to harvest solar energy are then installed on the exterior of the building.

The prototype for the roof was some 7.5 meters high, and had a total curved surface area of 160 square meters. It’s now been dismantled, ahead of the same design being implemented next year on the HiLo apartment building that’s part of the NEST project.

The unique shape of the roof would typically be constructed with non-reusable materials like specially fabricated timber or milled foam. Instead, this project used a net constructed from steel cables which was covered with a polymer textile, producing a form that the concrete could adhere to. This facilitated the unusual design, but it made the project considerably cheaper in terms of the the cost of materials.

The Block Researcher Group and the Swiss National Centre of Competence contributed an algorithm to the project to ensure that the roof would take on its desired form when the weight of wet concrete was applied to the net. The concrete was sprayed onto the net using a technique developed specifically for this application.

Raise the Roof With Solar Power

Roof-mounted solar panels are nothing new, but various advanced versions of the technology have emerged in the past few years. As well as being incredibly efficient, this new hardware is typically a lot cheaper than previous iterations.

Top 10 Countries Using Solar Power
Click to View Full Infographic

Tesla’s well-publicized solar roof project is perhaps the most prominent example. If the finished product is as effective and inexpensive as Elon Musk has suggested, it could potentially bring a method of harnessing solar energy to more homes than ever before.

However, Tesla isn’t the only company innovating when it comes to solar power. The roll-up solar panels developed by Renovagen demonstrate another way that solar technology is being implemented in ways that were unheard of even a decade ago.

Solar power is an increasingly viable way to produce energy, and more and more countries are investing in solar infrastructure on a large scale. Thanks to projects like the HiLo roof, individuals are set to have more ways to implement the technology in their own homes than ever before.

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Wooden Skyscrapers Are Set to Transform Our Cities

Back to Basics

For centuries, wood was the building material of choice for buildings around the world. During periods of industrial revolution, steel and concrete have taken its place. In more recent history, however, we’re seeing something of a resurgence of interest in wood as a competitive construction material.

In 2012, the Forte residential block in Melbourne, Australia set the record for the world’s tallest building made from timber at ten stories. Less than two years later, it was outdone by The Treet, a fourteen-story construction in Central Bergen, Norway. The Treet has since been outdone by Canada’s eighteen-story Brock Commons.

Cross-laminated timber is the material that allows these structures to be built without safety concerns. It’s made from sheets of two-by-fours that are layered together and bound by fire-resistant glue. The grain of each layer is rotated 90 degrees, and as such, the material’s structural strength is comparable to that of steel.

Ecological Edifice

If we can make building materials from wood that are as strong as steel, its other advantages make it a very appealing prospect. The first and not least of which are its major benefits in terms of the environment.

Estimates published by the U.S. Green Building Council state that as much as 39 percent of carbon emissions in the U.S. are the result of the construction of buildings and their usage. Wood is far lighter than steel, which makes it easier to transport to a construction site, and the foundations for buildings don’t have to be as deep. Both of these factors would serve to cut down on emissions.

Of course, there are challenges, too. While wood is a renewable resource, it’s critically important that we don’t use it irresponsibly, and continue reforestation efforts so we don’t exhaust our supplies. Still, wooden buildings offer up some promising opportunities for more ecologically sound construction, so long as the proper considerations are made.

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A Moving Sail Bridge Concept is Transforming the Future of Architecture

Building Innovation

Science fiction is full of intriguing structures, from floating cities to organic megastructures that often make us wonder if these types of “buildings” could be feasible in our world. These futuristic structures have often inspired today’s architects to push the boundaries of both materials and technology. Often, these architects create both beautiful and interesting designs like the newly created moving sail bridge concept by Margot Krasojević.

Commissioned by the city of Ordos in Mongolia — which is known for its elaborate government projects — Krasojević’s bridge is an impressive bit of architecture designed as a potential bridge for the Wulanmulun River. The design concept is a floating bridge that folds, making it possible to move it either by rowing or by sail to wherever it would be needed.

Image credit: Margot Krasojević Architecture
Image credit: Margot Krasojević Architecture

Its three expandable walkways and carbon fiber triple sail make it look like it belongs to some dystopian future, or as New Atlas reports, like a dragonfly transformer. To complete the futuristic feel, the bridge’s walkways are lined with solar panels which make the structure capable of generating its own power.

Transforming Architecture

This floating bridge is one example of transforming structures. A similar concept features a transforming home, capable of changing shape depending on the weather. Structures like these challenge today’s notion of what makes good design. Not only are these structures futuristic, they will also help to make the future more efficient and green.

Image credit: Margot Krasojević Architecture
Image credit: Margot Krasojević Architecture

Advances in engineering, technologies, as well as the availability of materials previously unheard of increases the chances that such structures might actually be built. For example, it’s now possible to build a house or an office using just a 3D-printer — bringing projects like Dubai’s 3D-printed skyscraper closer to reality.

Other ideas include a drone-flying house, a house with walls and floors made of “malleable skin” that transforms using an app, and DARPA’s concept of a self-repairing house. There’s also the concept of a “sea tree,” an artificially built wildlife skyscraper. However, there are designs, like the floating skyscraper concept, are too dangerous to come to fruition.

Image credit: Margot Krasojević Architecture
Image credit: Margot Krasojević Architecture

Whether this floating bridge and other futuristic structure concepts will ever be built or not, one thing seems clear: the future of architecture isn’t static. These moveable and transforming structures might just be what the cities of the future need.

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“Framework” Will be America’s First Wooden Skyscraper

America’s First Wooden Skyscraper

A design for the United State’s first wooden skyscraper, called Framework, has been approved for construction in Portland, Oregon — although, contractors are still awaiting building permits before construction can start. The structure will be 90,000 square feet and 12 stories tall (43 meters high). The concept for the building aims to rejuvenate the Portland timber industry, as well as provide affordable housing: apartment units will be reserved for those below 60 percent of area median family income.

Image Credit: Lever ArchitectureImage Credit: Lever Architecture[/caption]

Although the main material used in the building will be cross laminated timber (CLT), it will also include Aluminum Composite Material — board formed concrete and aluminum curtain wall. Framework will join Albina Yard and  Carbon12, two additional large scale wooden structures planned for development in the city of Portland.

Why are Wooden Skyscrapers Good?

Building out of wood may seem antiquated to some, but the material — particularly in its CLT form, which is new in the U.S — is undergoing a renaissance due to its capacity to be as strong as steel.

Creating structures from wood is a promising avenue for the environmental sector, as it doesn’t create a flurry of carbon emissions: designers hope that the building has the potential to set a precedent as a carbon-neutral project

New Greener Skylines: The Rise of Wooden Skyscrapers
Click to View Full Infographic

As Lever Architecture’s website aptly states: “Framework is part of a mutually beneficial cycle between natural resources, the rural timber industries that rely on these resources, and the cities served by the completion of these buildings.” If the building’s construction is a success, it will be a shining example of the beautiful combination of material and form that wooden architecture is capable of.

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New U-Shaped Skyscraper in NYC Could Become World’s Longest Building

Maybe the only way isn’t up after all: newly released concept drawings by a Greek architect for a skyscraper in Manhattan bend more than just minds.

According to architect Ioannis Oikonomou, New York’s zoning laws are prompting developers to explore new ways to maximize a building’s height. To that end, his studio is exploring substituting height with length.

Image Credit: Oiio Studio

Apart from being a novel addition to Manhattan’s impressive skyline, the structure — dubbed The Beg Bend — could essentially become a viable architectural solution that addresses the height limitations of buildings in the city. It could even be an answer to the city’s expensive housing — giving the building the prestige of a high-rise while maximizing the limited space.

In renderings, the building is shown to be a 4,000-foot-long, glass-lined tower. It will also come equipped with an elevator that can travel in curves, horizontally, and in continuous loops.

Image Credit: Oiio Studio

On the Oiio Studio website, the architect’s said

“If we manage to bend our structure instead of bending the zoning rules of New York we would be able to create one of the most prestigious buildings in Manhattan. The longest building in the world.”

Image Credit: Oiio Studio

Also, interestingly, if you were to stretch The Big Bend out vertically, it would be double the height of the tallest buildings today.

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See What Past Generations Thought Today’s Cities Would Look Like

Cities of the Future, Viewed From the Past

If you turned back time and asked people living in Los Angeles in 1965 what they thought the city would look like in the future (the 21st century), you would probably hear a lot of talk about jetpacks, flying cars, and “Star Trek”-like technology that could teleport humans and create food out of thin air.


Now, while a lot of those out-of-this-world technologies actually do exist in some form or another today, many never came to be. In an effort to bring new eyes to these inventive ideas, Greg Goldin and Sam Lubell recently published a book entitled “Never Built Los Angeles” that gives readers an incredible peek into what the City of Angels could have looked like.

The prototypical sketches in the book date back as far as the 1920s and depict a Los Angeles far different from the one that exists today. The plans include everything from sunken roads to a 1,200 foot tall tower that features colorful vertical lights and an observatory. One plan even asserts that, in the future, street taxis would be replaced by “helicabs” with landing zones on the tops of bus terminals.

LAX – 1952 – Pereira and Luckman. Image Credit: Greg Goldin and Sam Lubell
LAX – 1952 – Pereira and Luckman. Image Credit: Greg Goldin and Sam Lubell

The Future?

As a living member of the 21st century, looking at these mementos from the past is a great reminder of how much has changed since these sketches were made. Technology has surpassed even some of the wildest predictions, but not in the ways that many expected.

This sparks the question of what now lies ahead. We may think that we know what to expect from the decades to come, but do we really? Looking at these images of Los Angeles and other cities shows us that even though we might think we have a pretty good idea of what the future holds, we might be way off base. The only certainty is it will bring with it a lot of surprises.

Image Credit: New York World
This vision of New York City was published on December 30, 1900. Image Credit: New York World
The future Manhattan, New York, envisioned by Richard Rummell circa 1910-1911.
The future Manhattan, New York, envisioned by Richard Rummell circa 1910-1911.
The future of San Francisco, as envisioned by Alexander Weygers in 1950.
The future of San Francisco, as envisioned by Alexander Weygers in 1950.

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