A Ceramic Tile Cooling System Could Replace Conventional Air-Conditioning Units
According to the International Energy Agency in Paris, energy demand for air conditioning across the globe will more than triple by 2050. To help find a solution to this potential energy crisis, Spanish porcelain and ceramic tile company Gres Aragón partnered with researchers at Harvard GSD to create cSNAP—a durable, cost-effective, and low-energy evaporative cooling system that has the potential to replace conventional air-conditioning units that use vapor-compression refrigeration mechanisms. cSNAP only requires water, instead of liquid refrigerants, to operate, which could make it ideal for use in developing countries where conventional refrigeration systems come at a high cost. The system relies on ceramic tiles coated in a nanoscale hydrophobic material that cools indoor air without raising humidity. These tiles are able to “isolate incoming hot air from outgoing wet air, allowing the hot air to be cooled by circulating water without adding humidity to the inside of the building,” according to a Gres Aragón press release.
cSNAP was tested in real-world conditions at the Harvard Center for Green Buildings and Cities' HouseZero laboratory to great success cooling interior air efficiently. [Floor Covering Weekly]
A Swedish Civilian Movement Wants a Say in the Design of Nordic Cities
A social media movement called Architectural Uprising, founded on Swedish Facebook in 2014, is a collective of civilian design critics who denounce the development of, they say, the “continued uglification" of Nordic urban environments, according to statement on their website. What they want instead is for architects and designers to build more Classical structures, and less Scandivavian-style buildings, that can stand the test of time. The movement has garnered more than 100,000 followers who believe the public deserves to have a voice in the design of their own cities and neighborhoods.
“What we build today should be standing as long as possible, and, to make that happen, we have to build in a way that makes the building loved by the public, by its users,” Kurt Singstad, a Norway-based MAD Arkitekter architect who revised the design of Sandakerveien 58 B/C, a residential development in Oslo, said in a Bloomberg Citylab article. “I think it’s more important than ever that buildings are considered beautiful by those who are not architects or experts on aesthetics. Those behind Uprising should be listened to, because they as much as everyone else are entitled to have feelings or reactions about architecture.” [Bloomberg Citylab]
An Exhibition Explores Ways to Tackle Climate Change Using Ancient Materials
A new show at the Design Museum in London explores ways architects, designers, and construction professionals can use materials to reduce global carbon emissions caused by new-building construction and maintenance. “Rather than experimental new inventions, this display explores three ancient materials that are vital for a low-carbon future: wood, stone, and straw,” a description on the museum’s website says.
How to Build a Low-Carbon Home, open now through March 2024, surveys the work of contemporary architecture firms such as London–based Groupwork, Waugh Thistleton, and Material Cultures that have used wood, straw, and stone in their work—following the journey of the materials from forests, fields, and quarries to the built environment. The show utilizes building models, material samples, photographs, and tools to educate visitors on the importance of using age-old materials to help lessen the effects of human-led climate change. [Design Museum]
An Architecture Critic Questions How AI Will Affect the Profession
This week The Guardian's architecture and design critic Oliver Wainwright questions in a new article if AI has the potential to kill the architecture profession. Computer imaging tools such as Midjourney, Stable Diffusion, and Dall-E allow conceptual artists and architects alike the ability to create otherworldly structures with the click of a mouse. “The problem with architects is that we almost entirely focus on images,” Neil Leach, author of Architecture in the Age of Artificial Intelligence, told the The Guardian. “But the most revolutionary change is in the less sexy area: the automation of the entire design package, from developing initial options right through to construction. In terms of strategic thinking and real-time analysis, AI is already way beyond what human architects are capable of. This could be the final nail in the coffin of a struggling profession.” [The Guardian]
A 320-year-old Japanese Heritage House Highlights Ancient Sustainability Practices
The Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens, a California-based educational institution that supports research and promotes education in humanities, botany, and the arts, has restored a 3,000-square-foot residential compound in Marugame, Japan, originally built around the year 1700.
The Japanese Heritage Shōya House was reconstructed by Kyoto, Japan-based firm Nakamura Sotoji Komuten on a 2-acre site to educate future visitors on the history of rural Japan and its sustainability practices. “It represents real-life circumstances,” Robert Hori, the gardens cultural curator and programs director at the Huntington, said in a press release. “An authentically constructed Japanese house using natural materials, combined with careful attention to agricultural practices, will demonstrate how a community became self-sufficient. We will show how emphasis was placed on reducing waste and repairing items so they could be reused or repurposed. Visitors will see how this 18th-century Japanese village maintained a symbiotic relationship between humans and the surrounding landscape.” The redesigned compound features sustainable elements such as a small garden and pond, an irrigation canal, and agricultural plots used to grow food.
The Japanese Heritage Shōya House will open for public viewing starting Oct. 21. [The Huntington]
250 International Projects Shortlisted for 2023 World Architecture Festival Awards
Nearly 250 completed architecture projects made it to the shortlist for this year’s World Architecture Festival Awards, which honor projects by international architects and designers.
Structures from around the world—including Boston University’s Center for Computing and Data Sciences by Toronto–based KPMB Architects, as seen above—span 18 categories such as commercial, cultural, and residential architecture. The festival's awards, including the top honor of World Building of the Year, will be decided upon by a panel of 140 industry professionals after presentations from the shortlisted firms. The 2023 edition is scheduled to take place at the Marina Bay Sands building in Singapore from Nov. 29 to Dec. 1 and will feature keynote presentations and a product exhibition alongside the awards ceremony. [World Architecture Festival]
Landscape Architecture Deemed a STEM Degree Program
“Landscape architecture applies science, technology, cutting edge research, and engineering principles, to design healthy communities, active transportation projects, campuses and parks. We help communities adapt to climate driven extreme weather and support biodiversity,” Torey Carter-Conneen, CEO of ASLA, said in a news article on the society’s website. “The infrastructure challenges in municipalities across the country are enormous—landscape architects bring transformative solutions. Today’s decision will advance landscape architecture education and practice, and that is great for America and the global community.” [Federal Register]
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