A team of Illinois-based scientists have developed a form of “Martian concrete” that could be used to build architectural structures on the surface of the Mars. The most important feature of the material is that it construction material that combines Martian soil with molten sulphur and – unlike regular concrete – it is produced without water, which is in scarce supply on Mars. The majority of water that exists on the planet today is frozen. Another advantage of the material is that it it entirely recyclable, so it could be melted down and reset into a new form. It also has a natural resistance to acid and salt, and can endure very low temperatures. (source).

 

 

Bjarke Ingels’ firm has unveiled plans to build a school in Arlington,Virginia, featuring a fan-like plan that creates cascading roof terraces. Wilson Secondary School will comprise five storeys. But Copenhagen- and New York-based BIG wants it to feel like a single-storey block, so has arranged the floors so that they fan out from a single point, creating outdoor spaces above each level. This arrayed plan is intended to help break up the massing of the 15,800-square-metre building, which will be located in a low-rise residential neighbourhood on the edge of the Rosslyn central business district. (source).

 

 

The project is named The Barn House to reflect its open-plan layout, which could later be sub-divided to create a child’s bedroom or a photography studio. The spaces between the chunky wooden columns and beams, which create the framework for future rooms, match the standard sizes of timber boards, so they can easily divide the open space. 

“We aimed to build a house like a barn which can become their own home in the future,” explained the architect. “The client will continue the renovation in their own way according to the changes in their lifestyle. (source).

 

 

ODA New York’s residential tower for Manhattan features open-air terraces between the floors, designed to fulfill “the dream of a suburban backyard”. Called East 44th Street, the top half of the building will feature 4.8 metres “gaps” between every two to three floors that will be occupied by open-air terraces. 

“There is a huge disconnect between how we live in our cities and what we need, as human beings, for quality of life,” said ODA’s founder and executive director Eran Chen. “I don’t think that we should be forced to choose between enduring in the city, or escaping to suburban areas.” (source).

 

 

SHoP Architects has partnered with Kids of Kathmandu and Asia Friendship Network to rebuild 50 public schools in areas of Nepal that were devastated by the April 2015 earthquake. The firm has conceived two flexible prototypes that can be adapted to different site conditions and available resources. “The structures are designed to ensure easy assembly with a limited kit of parts comprised of materials readily available in the affected regions,” said the firm. The designs will also be shared online to help other groups and communities build schools without needing to pay for architectural and engineering planning. Both designs feature walls made of locally sourced earth bricks – a strategy that saves on transportation costs. In some cases, the schools will be constructed in remote areas that can only be reached by canoe. Using locally made bricks also engages the community in the building process, and ensures the buildings are better able to endure an earthquake. (source).

 

 

Rising sea levels and a shortage of development sites are leading to a surge of interest in floating buildings, with proposals ranging from mass housing on London’s canals to entire amphibious cities in China. People will increasingly live and work on water, as planning policies shift away from building flood defences towards accepting that seas and rivers cannot be contained forever, say the architects behind these proposals. Adeyemi, who is founder of Dutch studio NLÉ, has already designed several aquatic buildings in coastal Africa, including a floating school for a Lagos lagoon.  With over a quarter of its land mass lying below sea level, the Netherlands, where Adeyemi is based, leads the world in water management and has developed sophisticated planning policies that encourage water-based living.

“Flooding is likely to increase in frequency, severity and intensity,” Baca co-founder Richard Coutts said, “Intuitively we have been taught to hold water out rather than let it in,” he said. “The Dutch have embraced living with water as they have had no choice.” (source).

 

 

Estonian studio Salto Architects have completed a temporary summer theatre in Tallinn made of black spray-painted straw bales. The Straw Theatre is built on top of the former Skoone bastion. At the beginning of the 20th century, the bastion worked as a public garden, and during the Soviet era it was more or less restricted recreational area for the Soviet navy with a wooden summer theatre and a park on top. With the summer theatre having burnt down and the Soviet troops gone, for the last 20 years the bastion has remained a closed and neglected spot in the centre of town. In such a context, the Straw Theatre is an attempt to acknowledge and temporarily reactivate the location, doing all this with equally due respect to all historical layers of the site. The Straw Theatre is a unique occasion where straw has been used for a large public building and adjusted to a refined architectural form. For reinforcement purposes, the straw walls have been secured with trusses, which is a type of construction previously unused. As the building is temporary, it has not been insulated as normal straw construction would require but has been kept open to experience the raw tactile qualities of the material and accentuate the symbolic level of the life cycle of this sustainable material. (source).

 

Architecture studio Kilo has pitched a traditional Moroccan camel and goat wool tent in front of Jean Nouvel‘s Institut du Monde Arabe building in Paris. The studio covered the large rectangular tent with over 650 square metres of camel and goat wool, woven into long strips by members of a female cooperative in the Sahara Desert. The texture and curving form contrasts against the smooth facade, which is patterned with geometric designs typically used in Arabic architecture and on tiles. Beneath the woollen ceiling, the museum has attempted to recreate a souk-like atmosphere where works by Moroccan designers and craftspeople are displayed and sold.

“The rhythm and scale of the tent’s silhouette renders a topographic dimension to the structure, which pays homage to the nomadic traditions of southern Morocco,” said the architects. (source).

 

According to Slow Food, Herzog & de Meuron offer an alternative to the “pompous and unsustainable structures that would only distract visitors from the real purpose of the event”. The designers’ Slow Food Pavilion comprises three simple wooden sheds, all of which offer shelter but due to their open sides are also exposed to the elements. These frame a triangular courtyard furnished with large planting boxes, each containing rows of vegetables and herbs.

The first contains an exhibition inviting visitors to learn about different foods, and the second contains tasting counters. The third is a space for talks and seminars. According to Herzog & de Meuron, the long and narrow structures were inspired by the traditional farmhouses of Italy’s historic Lombardy region. Once the Expo is over, they will be disassembled and transported to a selection of Italian schools, where they will be rebuilt and used as garden sheds. (source).

 

 

The Vlotwateringbrug by NEXT Architects spans the Vlotwatering river in Monster, a town in the Dutch province of South Holland. Three specific elements of the bridge were designed for the bats – on the north side, an abutment accommodates winter roosting, while the deck and the brick balustrade include openings to facilitate summer roosting. The architects hope that a large colony of various species will be encouraged to grow around the bridge.

The bridge forms part of a 21-hectare waterway project called the Poelzone that aims to turn the banks of the river between ‘s-Gravenzande, Naaldwijk and Monster into a public recreation zone as well as create new habitats for indigenous wildlife. (source).