Friday, December 19, 2014

Rubik's Cube Architecture; Bringing the Puzzle to Façades.

Remember the ultimate challenge of the Rubik's Cube. Now we have an interactive building façade that allows you to challenge yourself even further at a buildings full scale.

‘Puzzle Façade’, by spanish artist and designer Javier lloret, brings the experience of solving a rubik’s cube to the urban space. the project transforms the façade of the ars electronic building in austria, into a interactive, vibrantly-colored cube, changing chroma based on cooperation with the public. passers-by are invited to engage with a hand-held, 3D-printed interface-cube, which packs electronic components at its core that keep track of rotation and orientation. collected data is sent via bluetooth to a computer that runs a software, which coverts the information into light and color that projects onto to the exterior of the structure, allowing the architecture to turn into a playable rubik’s cube. since the user is only able to see two sides of the edifice at one time, the difficulty factor increases, but as the player is able to rotate and flip the interface-cube, it does not limit the game.
The player uses a symbolic Rubik's Cube that is electronically connected to the building and each move you make shows through the color changes on the façade.

 This is the remote Rubik's Cube that connects to the building façade.

Below is a video link to show how this works. It's pretty cool, check it out.

How cool was this interactive façade. Hope you enjoy!

Friday, December 5, 2014

Who's Who? In the 3D Printing Industry

Skanska, Foster + Partners team up on development of first commercial 3D concrete printing robot

© Loughborough University

Global construction company is teaming up with Foster + Partners and the engineers at Loughborough University (LU) to create the world’s first commercial 3D concrete printing robot. The company has signed an agreement with LU, who has been working on the project since 2007, to partake in an 18-month initiative with a consortium of partners focused on developing a robot capable of printing complex structural components with concrete.
A video about LU’s research on 3D concrete printing and Foster + Partner’s involvement, after the break.

Loughborough University has been working on the project since 2007.

Photo: courtesy Loughborough University

Skanska, Foster + Partners, and engineers at Loughborough University (LU) are working together to create the first commercial 3D concrete printing robot. 
LU has been working on the project since 2007, but the new partnership is recent, according to ArchDaily. Skanska will participate in an 18-month program with a consortium of partners to develop a robot capable of printing complex structural components with concrete. Robotics firm ABB and aggregates suppliers Buchan Concrete and Lafarge Tarmac will be a part of the consortium, as well.
“3D concrete printing, when combined with a type of mobile prefabrication center, has the potential to reduce the time needed to create complex elements of buildings from weeks to hours,” stated Skanska Director Rob Francis. “We expect to achieve a level of quality and efficiency which has never been seen before in construction.”
Check out this video about LU's 3D printing research: 

Other Companies using 3D Printing

Defining Place: Alternative Urban Futures from The Neighbourhood

Courtesy of The Neighbourhood

3D printing technology is quickly emerging as a technology that could be applied at the scale of the built environment. But could we use 3D printed  to create engaging urban spaces that are constantly changing? Creative communications agency, The Neighbourhood, has imagined speculative architecture based on 3D printed materials.

Emerging Objects Invents Earthquake-Proof 3D Printed Column

Courtesy of Emerging Objects

A team of California-based designers have invented an earthquake-proof column built of 3D printed sand, assembled without bricks and mortar to withstand the harshest seismic activity. The ‘Quake Column‘ is comprised of a pre-determined formation of stackable hollow bricks which combine to create a twisting structure, optimized for intense vibrations in zones of earthquake activity. Created by design firm Emerging Objects, the column’s sand-based composition is one of many in a series of experimental structures devised by the team using new materials for , including salt, nylon, and chocolate. The column can be easily assembled and disassembled for use in temporary and permanent structures, and was designed purposefully with a simple assembly procedure for novice builders.
Find out how the Quake Column works after the break

For more information see links below:

Friday, November 21, 2014

Every Corner Counts: How Much Space Do you Really Need?

This weeks Y.E.O.W takes a look at maximizing space through design. This house in Austria is very small but once you step inside you would be amazed. Sometimes, just enough is all you need. Take a look at this cozy space in this article by Lara Lopes of Interesting Engineering.

We featured the Uvogel house (the name is a combination of UFO and Vogel – bird in German) in our recent article on the most unique and unusual small homes. Designed by Peter Jungmann, the 45 square meter house is found in the Austrian Alps and is available to rent all year round. But, looking from the outside you struggle to imagine that such a small house can offer much comfort and space.
That’s until you take a look inside. Its multi-functional design means you have a dining area, a kitchen unit, a nice and cozy window seat, separate bedroom area for parents and kids, WC and designer shower. Designed inside and out in wood, it offers the residents a sense of warmth bringing nature indoors to you.
Large panoramic windows offer breathtaking views of the Lienz Dolomites whilst also letting in a surplus of stunning natural light. The wood fire stove can heat up the home to keep the winter cold out and if that’s not enough, there is also floor heating. The design is very minimalistic but with views like that, why would you want clutter lying around.
The house is available all year round so if you fancy a unique holiday in such wondrous nature, head on over to their website.
- See more at:

Friday, November 14, 2014

Crowdfunding Bike Repair Kiosks in Atlanta

This week's Y.E.O.W takes a look at crowdfunding as an approach to developing public transit projects. The following article by Julie Sneider appeared on the website "Progressive Railroading."

Atlanta residents increasingly are taking to the streets on bicycles — so much so that city leaders have set a goal to make Atlanta one of the nation's Top 10 most "bike-friendly" cities by 2016. As part of the effort, the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA) is doing what it can to make it easier for cycling enthusiasts to take their bikes with them when they use the public transit system.

One example: Last month, the agency turned to a crowd-sourcing platform to raise more than $4,000 to help fund three bike-repair kiosks that will be installed at MARTA rail stations.

The kiosks will contain the equipment necessary to make basic repairs such as fixing a flat tire or adjusting loose handlebars, says Saba Long, a MARTA spokeswoman.

Pictured (left to right) is the MARTA team behind the crowd-funding project: Shannon Kroll, Mark Eatman, Lyle Harris, Saba Long, Ryan VanSickle and Nicholas Gowens.
Source: MARTA 
"Cycling is becoming quite popular in our service area and around Georgia in general," she says. "MARTA is making it convenient to bring your bike on the MARTA system and, with this project, fix it at the station if you need to."

The kiosk idea came from agency staffers who were brainstorming ways to attract more Atlanta cyclists to use public transit. Their conversation was and is part of a broader discussion underway in Atlanta about how to reduce the auto vehicle traffic congestion that the metro region is famous for. Tapping into the millennial generation's strong interest in cycling is one way to help do that, MARTA officials say.

"Lots of millennials who are coming into Atlanta and moving to in-town neighborhoods are looking for options other than driving," says MARTA spokesman Lyle Harris. "So, bicycling and transit go hand-in-glove."

To find the dollars for the kiosk project, MARTA staff decided to test the concept of crowd-funding, the practice of funding a project or venture by raising small amounts of money from lots of people via the Internet.

To get its venture started, MARTA turned to IOBY, a nonprofit organization that offers what its website describes as a "crowd-resourcing" platform for citizen-led projects aimed at improving local neighborhoods. In addition to raising funds, the organization helps pull together other resources necessary to make improvements.

IOBY stands for "In Our Back Yard" and is designed to dispel the "NIMBY" — not in my backyard — attitude toward community projects such as public transportation, Long says.

Earlier this fall, IOBY and the nonprofit TransitCenter in New York City launched "Trick Out My Trip," a program that provides up to $4,000 in matching funds for small neighborhood projects intended to make public transit easier, safer and more fun to use. Project examples include mini libraries at bus stops and community gardens at train stations.

"For the most part, investment in transit comes in billions of dollars," IOBY Executive Director Erin Barnes explained in a recent edition of Next City blog. "Our focus has always been on small projects. We want to see solutions led by riders and people who actually use the services, rather than municipalities."

MARTA's first attempt at crowd-funding was a challenge in part because the window to raise the money was so short: It launched Oct. 21 and wrapped up Oct. 23, Long says. Still, the agency not only met its fund-raising goal of $4,000, it exceeded it. The final sum raised was $4,542, which qualified the project to receive $4,000 in matching dollars from the TransitCenter. Donors to MARTA's fundraiser included the agency's board members and executive-level staff.

Now MARTA's facilities team is working with the Atlanta Bicycle Coalition — a nonprofit organization that supports safe cycling as a mode of transportation — to determine the best kiosk product to buy and, once purchased, where the kiosks should be installed.

"At this time, we're considering two rail stations and one bus shelter. Ideally, the kiosks will be near existing or planned high-capacity bicycle facilities, such as a two-way cycle track located near our Midtown station and the Atlanta BeltLine," says Long.

Now that MARTA has tasted success in its first attempt at crowd-funding, the agency might consider it for future projects such as raising community support for art installations at MARTA stations. In a broader sense, the crowd-funding concept fits nicely with MARTA General Manager and Chief Executive Officer Keith Parker's desire to promote a stronger sense of community ownership of Atlanta's transit system, says Harris.

"We believe in the wisdom of the crowd," he adds.

Monday, November 10, 2014

New Source of Electricity for Architecture

Scientists Turn Cigarette Butts Into Electrical Storage

By burning them. No, really.

Friday, October 17, 2014

"Solarleaf" Façade

The world’s first full-scale Bioreactive façade at the BIQ house in Germany is going ‘live’ as microalgae are fed into the system for the first time.

The tiny green algae will play a huge role in determining the future potential of this technology, which aims to provide shade and a renewable fuel source for the experimental apartment.
The BIQ house was built as part of this year’s International Building Exhibition (IBA) in Hamburg. With 200m² of integrated photo-bioreactors, this innovative passive-energy house generates microalgae biomass and heat as renewable energy resources. At the same time, the system integrates additional functionalities such as dynamic shading, thermal insulation and noise abatement, highlighting the full potential of this technology.

Known as "SolarLeaf", this innovative façade system is the result of three years of research and development by Colt International based on a bio-reactor concept developed by SSC Ltd and design work led by the international design consultant and engineering firm, Arup. Funding support came from the German Government’s “ZukunftBau” research initiative.

Using bio-chemical processes in the façade of a building to create shade and energy is a really innovative concept. It might well become a sustainable solution for energy production in urban areas, so it is great to see it being tested in a real-life scenario”, said Jan Wurm, Arup Research Leader.
The heart of the system is the fully automated energy management centre where solar thermal heat and algae are harvested in a closed loop to be stored and used to generate hot water. The heat is directly available to the house as heating energy, while the generated algae biomass becomes utilized in another location and converted into biogas.

The microalgae used in the façades are cultivated in flat panel glass bioreactors measuring 2.5m x 0.7m (8.2 x 2.3 feet). In total, 129 bioreactors have been installed on the south west and south east faces of the four-story residential building, creating a total surface of 200 square meters (2152 square feet).

Geothermal energy and the connection to the Integrated Energy Network Wilhelmsburg Central secure the heat supply and also serve as a long-term reservoir for the heat that is generated in summer. The extensively greened roof provides the opportunity to harvest electricity via the photovoltaic system.

The apartments will employ the concept used by some dorm rooms and caravans – dwelling on demand has found its contemporary enhanced development in the BIQ. Rooms functions can be alternatively or simultaneously ‘patched into form a neutral zone suitable for different needs.

The BIQ project is a milestone in opening up this value chain and creating a subsequent infrastructure. The developed bioreactors also capture solar thermal heat with an efficiency of approx. 50%. At the BIQ the heat is extracted by the use of heat exchangers and the temperature levels of the excess heat can be increased by using a heat pump for the supply of hot water or heating the building or stored geothermally. The system comprises bioreactor panels, associated mechanical services and the control unit to link the mass flows and optimize the efficiency of the building. The BIQ plays an important role in establishing surplus energy and zero carbon building clusters for the future.



Friday, October 10, 2014

Adaptive Reuse + "Collective Eatery" = Revitalization

TGIF to the viewers!

For this week's YEOW, we'd like to share with you a very cool adaptive reuse/revitalization project out of Denver, Colorado. A great blog called DenverUrbanism originally reported on this unique concept: Adaptive reuse of an old printing building for a restaurant incubator, or "collective eatery." The original post is found below:

"Adaptive reuse—that’s planner-speak for the repurposing of an old building—is an important part of helping cities revitalize and grow in a sustainable way. Some adaptive reuse projects are no-brainers, where the historic and architectural quality of the existing building is so great that to demolish the building instead of reusing it doesn’t make any sense. Good examples would include the Colorado National Bank (now the Renaissance Denver Downtown City Center Hotel) and The Source.

Then there’s the adaptive reuse project called Avanti Food and Beverage at 32nd and Pecos in Lower Highland. The existing building looks like this today:

Okay, maybe not an architectural masterpiece, but that’s alright! Even if the structure itself isn’t all that glamorous, the reuse of an old building—in addition to being an environmentally friendly option—helps preserve some of the neighborhood’s physical scale and offers a reminder of fast-changing Lower Highland’s economic roots. This structure, built in 1935, was occupied by Avanti Printing and Graphics for many years. Here’s a view of the inside:

After its physical transformation is complete, this will be the home of Avanti Food and Beverage, a “collective eatery.” The concept behind this project is really cool. Most people are now familiar with coworking spaces, where small start-up companies share office space and resources and collaborate with each other. Avanti Food and Beverage will be very similar, except it’s for restaurants instead.

The building will house eight different restaurants, each operating out of a modified 8′ x 20′ shipping container. This allows restaurant entrepreneurs, particularly up-and-coming chefs, the opportunity to launch a new restaurant or test a new food concept for a fraction of the cost of building out a traditional restaurant space, all while fostering creativity in a cooperative “restaurant incubator” environment. Customers will have a great selection of affordably priced and innovative food, plenty of indoor and outdoor seating areas to share, and two bars offering adult beverages.

Here are a couple of images, courtesy of the Avanti development team. Here’s an example of the shipping container-turned-kitchen:

and here is the ground-level interior floor plan showing five of the eight shipping container/restaurants, shared seating areas, and one of the bar areas:

Three more restaurant spaces, the other bar, and additional seating will be built out on the roof, providing awesome views of the Downtown Denver skyline. Here’s a rendering of the rooftop deck, followed by a photo I took from the roof (the power lines will be buried):

The building will be given a thorough makeover and new windows will bring a lot of natural light to the interior. The grounds will be landscaped along with additional patio seating overlooking Highland Gateway Park:

Renovation work will be getting underway soon and the project is planned to open Spring 2015.   
The Avanti Food and Beverage project is fantastic in so many ways. It renovates an old building in disrepair; it infuses energy and activity next to a small public park; it adds an innovative concept to Denver’s booming culinary scene; and it brings another great dining option to Denver’s hottest restaurant neighborhood."

Can't wait to hear how it all turns out! Here is the link to the original post. 

Friday, October 3, 2014

Natural Homes - Building With Your Countries Raw Materials


This tiny egg shaped treehouse shelter is hiding in the hemlock forests of Whistler, Canada. It's made using reclaimed materials, some of which came from Craigslist. Like all unique shelters Joel Allen's treehouse was a labour of love. Joel wanted the treehouse to be in harmony with the land. This is a process all natural builders go through trying to find the right local materials and the right design for the right plot of land.


This is a traditional turf home for the Sami people of the northern Scandinavian countries. This one is in Staloluokta, Sweden where it is known as a Goahti. The same architecture in Norway it called a Gamme. This particular Goahti is a church, possibly the only one of its kind. In Norway you can stay in these Sami turf homes, sleeping on reindeer skins warmed by an open stone circle fire, while you attend a workshop in Sami crafts, duodji.


There's an organisation of devoted women called Kleiwerks building homes like this cob school in Lago Puelo, Argentina. Their latest initiative is WASI teaching women to build natural homes and strong communities.


These are clay catenary domes, called obos, of the Musgum people in the Cameroon. They provide efficient cooling in the baking heat with a round ventilation hole at the top and a small entrance with no windows. The high dome collects the hot air moving it away from the living space. The patterns on the exterior of the obos aren’t just for decoration. You can find out what they are for here in this article about the catenary arch and discover other structures including Gaudi's work.

This is 'La Cabane Cocon' (The Cocoon Treehouse). It uses a light steel
framework to support the woven branches but otherwise it natural. The same
structure could be built with a bamboo frame or similar. It was built
by Jean-Yves Behoteguy, a French 'sculpteur sur bois' (sculptor of wood).
This is 'The Gibbon Experience', a lush and peaceful jungle where you can
learn how to find fresh water in the vines and which flowers and plants are edible.
The treehouse is on three levels, three bedrooms, a living room/kitchen area and
a bathroom all accessible by zip lines.

For more information and Nature Homes see link below:

Friday, September 19, 2014

Schools: Can the Building Be the Teacher?

For this week's Y.E.O.W we'd like to share with you the idea of the integrated learning experience and learning from the actual building students use everyday.
We will focus on Renaissance Academy Secondary School (Grades 6-12) in Virginia Beach, Virginia, architect RRMM.
This building utilizes different sustainability and design strategies to educate its students and demonstrate through building usage the importance of sustainability.



Why use artificial lighting if you can use daylight?

Daylit spaces are supplemented with dimming ballast electric lighting with photosensor and occupancy sensor controls. All classrooms provide natural daylight which optimizes the students work performance by 30% as opposed to artificial lighting.
There are 19 Light tubes pipe sunlight into interior spaces


Need more green space? Why not use the roof?

Vegetated (Green) Roof – Red in Winter & green in Summer. Insulates building,filters & holds storm water & is a pleasant sight from the second story rooms. Students take trips on the walkable green roof to explore the vegetation and view the storm water systems.


How is the building powered?

Photovoltaic power production
Solar thermal heating of kitchen and process water
Geothermal-tied Kitchen refrigerant

Solar Thermal Collectors

Students can learn how much power the building is generating at the kiosk in the main entry of the school.
Building Systems Data Public Display – publicly accessible, interactive, real-time displays of building energy use and production, water use and collection, carbon emissions, dollars saved, air quality, etc.



What happens to the rain water?

Rainwater collection used for toilet flushing, which is then dyed blue and the students can identify this is collected rain water being used now as grey water through the building. Clear pipes are located throughout the building so students can see the transformation and usage from rain water to grey water.



Wind Turbines

Converting Kinetic Energy from the Wind into Electric Power. Students can see the data from this in the kiosk information board.  

Zero Runoff Site



Students are learning all this information before even opening a textbook. Should all schools be required to incorporate integrated learning through building design? Imagine if you could learn more about a building then leaky roofs from your grammar school. Can this create a new and more enlightened generation of students?