Urbach Tower
Courtesy ICD/ITKE, University of Stuttgart Urbach Tower

Researchers at the Institute for Computational Design and Construction at the University of Stuttgart, in Germany, have devised a technique for curved wood components that take their shape autonomously, requiring much less energy that typical systems. To achieve the forms, the team leveraged natural deformity that occurs in cross laminated timber units when moisture is removed, predicting the geometries with computational mechanics models. In Germany, the researchers constructed the twisting Urbach Tower, which stands more than 45 feet tall, to demonstrate their findings. "The structure showcases the possibilities for efficient, economical, ecological, and expressive wood architecture that arises at the intersection of master craft, digital innovation, and scientific research," the team writes. [University of Stuttgart]

Courtesy IKEA

One year after announcing their partnership, Scandinavian furniture giant IKEA and solar company Little Sun have unveiled their first prototypes of solar products. Sammanlänkad, which means "connected" in Swedish, will be available for purchase in 2021. We want to connect the world by sharing the power of the sun in order to promote a sustainable lifestyle," said Little Sun founder Olafur Eliasson in a press release. "The collaboration with IKEA is a huge opportunity to raise awareness for energy access and the urgent need for global solutions, while at the same time working with world-leading product designers.” [Little Sun]

Octave 9, designed by LMN Architects
Benjamin Benschneider Octave 9, designed by LMN Architects

Located along one of Seattle’s most prominent cultural corridors, Octave 9 is an intimate, 2,500-square-foot experimental performance space within Benaroya Hall, home to the Seattle Symphony. Designed by local firm LMN Architects—also the authors of the original 1998 building—the venue employs cutting-edge audiovisual technologies with custom-fabricated details to achieve what the firm calls “electronic architecture”: a programmable and fluid environment largely able to accommodate the particular needs of any performance uncoupled from the room’s dimensions and materiality. [ARCHITECT]

Researchers at ETH Zurich have created liquid hydrocarbon fuel using just air and sunlight. The solar mini-refinery, located on the school's roof, extracts carbon dioxide and water from the air using solar energy, yielding a hydrogen and carbon monoxide mixture. This mixture can then be converted into kerosene, methanol, or other hydrocarbons, which already power transportation infrastructure around the world. [ETH Zurich]

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. School, in Cambridge, Mass., designed by Perkins Eastman
Copyright Robert Benson / Courtesy Perkins Eastman Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. School, in Cambridge, Mass., designed by Perkins Eastman

Drexel University associate clinical professor Bruce Levine and Perkins Eastman principal and K12 practice area leader Sean O’Donnell, AIA, have been awarded the 2019 Latrobe Prize by the AIA College of Fellows. The duo received a $100,000 grant for their project, “Addressing a Multi-Billion Dollar Challenge,” which aims to advance research on the relationship between education design and student impact. [ARCHITECT]