Canadian startup JD Composites has recently announced the completion of a concept house made from more than 600,000 recycled plastic bottles. With three bedrooms and two bathrooms occupying approximately 2,000 square feet, Beach House comprises 184 prefabricated panels made entirely from recycled PET foam from Ontario-based Armacell. The project cost approximately $375,000 to build. Designed to withstand hurricane-force winds, the structure will serve as a rental unit as the team assesses its durability and wear over time. Ultimately, JD Composites co-founders David Saulnier and Joel German plan to sell the house. "Our idea isn't to make custom homes for couples looking to build a new dream home," German told New Atlas. "Our goal is to get in line with projects that allow for volume sales—smaller dwellings, shelters, sheds, offices, sleeping barracks. Disaster relief shelters are definitely on our radar." [New Atlas]

In an effort to address the ongoing housing crisis in the Bay Area, software giant Autodesk is investing in Factory_OS, a Vallejo, Calif.–based modular multifamily housing construction company. Specifically, Autodesk will assist the build out of Factory_OS' Factory Floor Learning Center, where the company will focus on industrialized construction research and education and related public policy issues. “Factory_OS was started with scalability in mind,” said Factory_OS' CEO Rick Holliday in a press release. “Changing the way housing is built requires an evolution in everything from how workers are trained to the methods used in order to ensure increased productivity and therefore lower costs and time-to-market. We believe our model can help create real impact in the Bay Area and beyond, and Autodesk’s investment helps make this even more of a reality.” [Autodesk]

Photo by Kyle Wilke courtesy MIT

Blaine Brownell, AIA, discusses the latest developments in water-repellent materials and coatings in an exploration of the evolution of hydophobic design. [ARCHITECT]

Courtesy University of Bath

Researchers from NASA and the University of Bath in the U.K. have developed a high-definition satellite radar warning system that can detect infrastructure at risk of collapsing. The team focused its research on 15 years of satellite data of the Morandi Bridge in Genoa, Italy, which collapsed last year, killing 43 people. "The state of the bridge has been reported on before, but using the satellite information we can see for the first time the deformation that preceded the collapse," said researcher and University of Bath professor Giorgia Giardina in a press release. "We have proved that it is possible to use [our] tool, specifically the combination of different data from satellites, with a mathematical model, to detect the early signs of collapse or deformation.” [University of Bath]

Drywall waste block
Courtesy Taiji Miyasaka, David Drake, and Zaky Ramadhan Drywall waste block

2019 R+D Awards: The masonry block, a workhorse of modern construction, has been a target for innovation since the 1920s, when Frank Lloyd Wright built the first of his “textile block” houses to demonstrate the beauty of inexpensive materials. See its latest reinvention, from Washington State University's School of Design + Construction, one of eight winners in our 13th annual R+D Awards. [ARCHITECT]