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[20 Aug 2010 | 3 Comments | 1,799 views]
ArchiBlog Roundup: Searching Projects by Material

You may have surmised that I spend a not inconsiderable amount of time scouring the Interwebs looking for the latest and greatest materials with which to regale all of you intrepid readers.  Many of the websites I visit tend to tag their posts about architecture projects by material.  The upshot of all of this tagging is that it becomes possible to sort or search these sites by material and as a consequence to encounter lovely, intriguing projects (and also heinous, unspeakable projects) that feature the material in which one may have an interest.  I’ve provided a few links to …

METAL »

[17 Aug 2010 | No Comment | 5,664 views]
HyperGrill Metal Tiles

 
A long time ago before we were born, probably after he’d had a few and was waxing philosophical, Chicago architect Louis Sullivan wrote:
“It is the pervading law of all things organic, and inorganic,
of all things physical and metaphysical,
of all things human and all things super-human,
of all true manifestations of the head, of the heart, of the soul, that the life is recognizable in its expression, that form ever follows function. This is the law.”
Sullivan designed intricate ornamental elements inspired by natural forms, which were meant to look completely complex and awesome as well as to express …

WOOD »

[13 Aug 2010 | No Comment | 13,319 views]
3form EcoResin Panels

 
Resin is intriguing stuff.  In my mind it’s like honey to the power of two; it’s sticky as all hell, often golden or amber (ha!) in color, and it is, chemically speaking, a lot many kinds of serious.  Technically resin is a “hydrocarbon secretion of many plants, particularly coniferous trees valued for its chemical constituents and uses such as varnishes and adhesives, as an important source of raw materials for organic synthesis, or for incense and perfume” (Wikipedia).  It can also be used to make translucent panels in a wide range of colors …

Uncategorized »

[3 Aug 2010 | No Comment | 2,906 views]
Materials on Film! “Rem Koolhaas: A Kind of Architect”

I’m not sure how New Video figured out that I’d be interested in watching an approximately 90 minute documentary film featuring the work of a famous Dutch architect mostly in subtitled German with numerous interviews conducted in English, but that’s what happened.  I will say for the record that if it means watching interesting movies, I don’t really mind that my demographic profile has been targeted and acquired by I-don’t-know-who (though I guess anyone in my demographic would say that).  Anyhow, to cut to the chase, I watched* and enjoyed the …

FIRE, WOOD »

[2 Aug 2010 | 2 Comments | 9,432 views]
3D-Printed Fabrics: Surprise! They’re Real AND They’re Sustainable

I’ve been looking at dresses on the Internet lately because my lovely friends keep getting married and, for some unknown reason, they keep inviting me to their weddings.  I’ve found some good deals online, and it’s nice not to have to deal with roaming tween hordes off-gassing pale clouds of angst or resist the insincere entreaties of pushy salespeople at the mall.  The drawback of Internet shopping, of course, is that you can’t try anything on and whatever you’ve purchased must be shipped. 
While waiting for my latest dress to arrive (it’s a snazzy sky-blue linen number with strategic pleats, …

WATER, WOOD »

[28 Jul 2010 | 2 Comments | 9,141 views]
Renewable Liquid Wood: Arboform

Imagine it’s the late 1990’s.  The Backstreet Boys are playing without a trace of irony on the radio and Bill Clinton is President of the United States.  People are using dial-up modems and AOL for their Internet and email needs.  In Germany, in Pfinztal near Karlsruhe, a group of scientists at the Fraunhofer Institute for Chemical Technology are inventing a renewable plastic that has wood-like qualities but can be cast by a machine.
Scientists Juergen Pfitzer and Helmut Naegele, working with Norbert Eisenreich, Wilhelm Eckl and Emilia Inone-Kauffmann found that lignin, …

WATER »

[22 Jul 2010 | 2 Comments | 2,582 views]
Green Glue Noiseproofing Compound

I live in an apartment in the city, and while the demising walls between units are relatively stout, it should be noted that I often hear the shrill bark of my neighbor’s dog and the skittering sound of scampering paws.  On occasion my upstairs neighbor will take to jumping rope, which produces a curious rhythmic click-slap followed by a kind of “bam!” sound as said neighbor’s feet hit the slab above my head.  When I found out about Green Glue Noiseproofing Compound, I wondered what kind of damping effect judicious application throughout my abode might …

FIRE, WATER »

[19 Jul 2010 | 3 Comments | 5,640 views]
Ice Chiller Thermal Energy Storage

I just had one of those moments when you realize you’re compulsively writing about air conditioning.  This is my second post on the subject this month, and I can’t swear that it will be the last.  I’m most likely drawn to writing about AC because it’s summer in Texas and the heat index on any given day makes the national debt seem piddling and insignificant.  I’ll probably be writing about heaters in December, so you have that to look forward to in addition to the winter holidays.
The material on which I intend …

FIRE, WATER »

[14 Jul 2010 | No Comment | 1,212 views]
Singing Acoustic Fibers can Hear their Environment

Every once in a while in the course of my quest to discover materials with architectural potential, I stumble across something so interesting that I emit an audible yelp akin to the bellow of an excited elephant seal, drop whatever I’m doing, and write a post about it.  Unfortunately this tendency has resulted in the accidental smashing of several objects, including one unfortunate incident where I dropped an ancient and rather valuable Ming vase on an unforgiving tile floor with predictably catastrophic consequences. 
Yesterday I learned that researchers at MIT have developed functional plastic fibers that can detect …

WOOD »

[13 Jul 2010 | One Comment | 5,744 views]
Eco-Friendly Reclaimed & Sustainable Millwork Panels: Kirei USA

Even if building owners aren’t always eager to spend the considerable amount of capital it takes to certify their projects with green building programs like the US Green Building Council’s LEED and the Green Building Initiative’s Green Globes, municipalities are increasingly adopting green standards into law.  Green building programs and codes don’t expressly certify materials, but material choices can go a long way towards meeting recycled content, low VOC, and reclaimed materials requirements for certification.
Kirei USA (kirei is the Japanese character signifying “beautiful”or “clean,” and it’s pronounced “Key’-ray,” in case …

FIRE, WATER »

[1 Jul 2010 | One Comment | 2,141 views]
Energy Recovery Wheels

The content of this post can be summed up in two lines from the song Wheel in the Sky, written and recorded by Journey in 1978, which I hope is now as firmly stuck in your head as it is in mine:
“The wheel in the sky keeps on turnin’ / I don’t know where I’ll be tomorrow”
Well, okay, I mostly know where I’ll be tomorrow (at the office) but there are a few hours between work and going to sleep tomorrow night that I’m going to play by ear.

Image credit www.moonbeammcqueen.wordpress.com
So now onward to our …

WOOD »

[28 Jun 2010 | No Comment | 5,168 views]
Converting Public Steps into Comfortable Outdoor Seating: Il Posto by Miramondo

Public steps make me happy.  I’m talking about those large stone or concrete steps that typically line plazas or porches.  They’re great places to sit and read, talk, eat lunch, and watch a parade of people thronging past.  Some of the best public plazas I’ve ever encountered have been located in Italy; I spent hours sketching in one of my favorites, the Piazza dei Signori in Vicenza, one summer during grad school.  The only complaint I have about public steps is that they’re a little rough on the hindquarters if you try to sit in one place for …

EARTH »

[25 Jun 2010 | 2 Comments | 7,589 views]
Carbon Cast Concrete

Carbon fiber is one of those futuristic-sounding, expensive materials that I associate with supersonic airplanes, fancy road race bicycles, and $400,000 dining tables.  So imagine my surprise when I found out that, back in 2003, a group of precast concrete companies banded together with carbon fiber grid provider Chomarat to form AltusGroup, who manufacture a product called Carbon Cast Concrete.  “AltusGroup members use Chomarat’s C-GRID®, as the carbon fiber epoxy based reinforcing in several precast building system products to enhance the strength and reduce the weight of precast concrete” (Drabestott).  Reinforcing humble precast concrete with …

EARTH »

[23 Jun 2010 | 3 Comments | 4,850 views]
Is Graphene Elvis or the Russell Brand of Materials?

Say what you will about Elvis Presley and his rhinestone-studed white jumpsuits, the man definitely made waves in movies and the music world.  Even half a century after his heyday I still catch Blue Hawaii airing on TV and even incurious millenials know Heartbreak Hotel.  In contrast to Elvis, I offer you Russell Brand: a man who appears to live life like a young Bret Michaels, and whose notoriety stems from a certain abrasive yet undeniable charisma.  Will Russell Brand’s … er … brand … stand the test of time?  Is he another Elvis?  I think …

WOOD »

[21 Jun 2010 | One Comment | 5,895 views]
Smile: Plastics from Recycled Bottles, Boots, and Banknotes

If you’re anything like me, you don’t spend much time around children and probably find them slightly unnerving.  I mean, think about how fast they’re growing.  It’s completely freaky.  Just consider this: if you measured a child’s foot when it was one year old and then you measured it again six years later, the second time you measured it, the foot would be a completely different size.

Image courtesy www.geekinspired.com
Feet grow, but shoes don’t.  What this means, of course, is that children go through an enormous quantity of plastic rain boots as their feet get larger.  And …

WATER »

[17 Jun 2010 | 7 Comments | 7,810 views]
DEVap: An Energy-Saving Air Conditioning Design

I like to set my home thermostat at around 80 degrees during the summer when friends and family aren’t around because I can’t stand to be cold.  I’m always freezing at work because the people who make decisions about temperature tend to be ample-waisted males of the suit-wearing persuasion who would rather have their fingernails pulled out one at a time than break a sweat.  I used to have a personal heater at my desk to counteract the effects of the arctic blast aimed roughly at the top of my head, but the heater voided the warranty on our cubicles …

FIRE »

[15 Jun 2010 | 3 Comments | 5,450 views]
Butterfly Wings, Colors, and Solar Cells

While I was in New York a few weeks ago I stopped by the American Museum of Natural History – mostly in order to pay a visit to @NatHistoryWhale – which, in case you’re not familiar, is a 1:1 replica of a blue whale hanging from the ceiling.  As I went to enter the gigantic hall of enormous ocean life I stopped short to examine a back-lit wall bedazzled with a fascinating array of taxidermied creatures including a 7 pound lobster from New Jersey. 

Images courtesy amnh.org and vipnyc.org 
Pinned up along one side of the wall was a row of brilliantly …

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