Posts tagged with "Concrete":

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This experimental concrete roof is half the weight of its peers

A research team led by Jamin Dillenburger, an assistant professor at ETH Zurich, has recently produced and installed a concrete ceiling shaped by 3D-printed sand formwork. Dubbed the “Smart Slab,” the 1000 square-foot ceiling is significantly lighter and thinner than comparable concrete ceilings. The concrete slab is a component of ETH Zurich’s ongoing DFAB House project. The DFAB House is a load-bearing timber module prefabricated by robots. According to ETH Zurich, Dillenburger’s research group “developed a new software to fabricate the formwork elements, which is able to record and coordinate all parameters relevant to production.” In effect, the design of the ceiling is the product of the team-created software rather than analog design or planning. Following the design and digital testing phase of structural elements, the fabrication data was exported for the creation of 11 pallet-sized, 3D-printed sand formworks. After fabrication, each segment was cleared of sand particles and prepared for concrete spraying. The spray consisted of several layers of glass-fiber reinforced concrete. At its thinnest point, the concrete shell is less than one inch thick. After hardening for two weeks, the 11 concrete segments were joined to create the approximately 15-ton floor plate. While the underbelly’s contours were formed by 3D-printed sand casts, the ribbed grid above was shaped by CNC laser-cut timber formwork. The load-bearing ribs, resulting from timber formwork, were outfitted with a series of tubes for the insertion of steel cables both horizontally and vertically. These post-tensioned ribs carry the principal load of the “Smart Slab.” In placing the principal load above the concrete shell, the research team was able to insert complex geometric features below. The “Smart Slab” is not ETH Zurich’s first execution of an ultrathin concrete unit. Earlier this year, the university fabricated an undulating, two-inch thick roofing unit for a new live-work space in Zurich.
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How the Rio Grande came to separate the U.S. and Mexico

This article is the fourth in a series that originally appeared in AN's July/August 2018 issue which focuses exclusively on Texas and was guest edited by AGENCY. The rest of the essays will be released in the coming days and examine architecture and practice across the southern border of the United States. In the border metropolis of El Paso-Ciudad Juárez, the power relations of international negotiation are not only performed through the apparatus of control over the movement of bodies, but are also embodied in a concrete architecture that exposes the calculus of separation and asymmetrical infrastructural development between the two countries. In the borderland, the control of water—as territory, commodity, and reproductive agent—produces its physical spaces. While the shared waters of the river and the underground aquifers contribute to the reproductive capacity of land within the desert climate, the infrastructures of water supply and sanitation are material evidence of the socio-spatial injustices and imbalances that structure and reproduce social relations within the border cities. Negotiation The geopolitical history of the river as a border and of the partitioning of its waters is inscribed within the built environment as a thick constructed zone. The international border between the United States and Mexico was defined by the 1848 and 1884 Treaties, which delineated that the border follow the Rio Grande (Rio Bravo del Norte) from El Paso to the Gulf of Mexico. This rendered the border an unstable condition, as its line needed to be redefined by the International Boundary Commission each time floods caused the river to relocate. A treaty in 1933 attempted to “fix” the river by engineering it into a constructed channel. However, this location left several hundred acres of disputed Mexican territory to the north of the river—the result of a violent change in course in 1864. The 1963 Chamizal Agreement relocated the river and the international boundary once again, moving the Rio Grande back to its 1852 survey location. In this highly publicized moment of international diplomacy, the disputed land was “returned” to Mexico, and a new channel was constructed to reroute the Rio Grande north so that both river and international border aligned. The division between the two countries was now emphasized, further asserted by the open lands of the former riverbed on the Juárez side and a new elevated border highway on the U.S. side of the channel. Management The colonization of the U.S. would not have been possible without the massive campaign of dam projects in the early 20th century that commodified the waters of the West and irrigated the farms and settlements of homesteaders. Four dams manage and distribute the Rio Grande waters in the El Paso-Juárez region: Elephant Butte, Caballo, American Diversion, and the International Diversion Dam. Water is distributed according to the 1944 Water Treaty, drawn up when the population of Juárez was less than one-tenth its current size. In 1965, the binational Border Industrialization Program enabled maquiladoras, foreign-owned manufacturing plants, to be located within Mexico’s border zones, and to move materials and products with reduced tariffs and trade barriers. This propelled an influx of new residents who arrived to work in the Juárez border zone maquilas. The treaty, which retains the majority of the river water in the U.S., has not been revised since and contains no provisions for sharing the rapidly depleting Mesilla and Hueco Bolson aquifer waters, which traverse the binational region underground. The division of the river water produces politically charged urban spaces. The U.S. Franklin Canal materializes as a physical barrier within the U.S. border zone, flowing deeply and rapidly in a concrete channel alongside the Rio Grande. In Juárez, the diverted water flows along the Acequia Madre, which takes a diagonal course, traversing some of the city’s main public spaces. This once green irrigation channel and common space is now largely neglected and has deteriorated into a toxic line of sewage and trash. Biopolitics Water is not only scarce in the desert city of Juárez—it is also dangerous. The paper worlds of politics materialize as realities on the ground and in the tissues of bodies. Due to the explosive population growth of Juárez, large portions of the city have been rapidly and often informally constructed, typically without proper municipal sewage or drinking water services. The residents of these informal settlements, known as colonias, rely primarily on truck-supplied water, which has a much higher likelihood of being contaminated and results in high rates of water-borne diseases. Only about a third of the city’s sewage is actually treated.  Some colonias have additionally encroached on the city’s drainage gullies and arroyos, putting residents at further risk during flash flood events. In July 2010, the United Nations General Assembly “explicitly recognized the right to clean drinking water and sanitation as essential to the realization of all human rights.” If this mandate is taken seriously by the binational region of El Paso-Ciudad Juárez, new treaties and agreements will need to be negotiated that address not only the scarcity and distribution of its shared waters, but also the shared responsibility of water rights to citizens on both sides of the border. What remains to be seen is not only what shape these take in terms of political agreements, but also how they will reshape the physical urban spaces of the paired cities.
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Thinness pavilion stretches concrete to its limits

Syracuse-based APTUM Architecture has designed and fabricated Thinness, an ultra-light concrete pavilion in collaboration with international concrete manufacturer Cemex Global R&D. Concrete is one of the most ubiquitous construction materials in the world. Its advantages are many: it's easy to produce, is remarkably strong, and can take on a variety of forms. It does, however, have one rather weighty constraint: it's heavy. Thinness is an experiment in using contemporary and historical casting methods to create novel forms that stretch concrete to its thinnest and lightest proportions while maintaining structural integrity. The installation uses its shape and a proprietary concrete mix that includes glass beads for aggregate and steel fibers to create a freestanding structure with walls that are only three-quarters-of-an-inch thick. The perforated pavilion, a collection of 12 exterior columns arranged around four central light wells, was designed to be modular and scalable. The columns taper at the base and expand as they rise, vaulting to form a ring of arches. Although the installation is ten feet tall and ten feet long on each side, each column weighs only 200 pounds. Architects Julie Larsen, Assoc. AIA, and Roger Hubeli, founding partners of APTUM and professors at Syracuse University, sought to explore “thinness” and the role of volume in architecture. In collaboration with the research and development department at Cemex, based near Monterrey, Mexico, the team was able to develop a fiber-reinforced concrete mixture that would evenly distribute around the form’s sharp corners without clumping and weakening the structure. Grasshopper was used to map the stress across each column, and the perforations were made smaller or eliminated in the most heavily stressed areas to help distribute the load more evenly. The team ran through different pattern iterations looking for the correct balance between load-bearing ability, aesthetics, and amount of void before settling on the final grid. The columns were cast using the lost-wax technique. First, a silicon mold was cut using a water jet, and then braced in a steel enclosure to protect against bowing as the concrete cured. Wax was then poured into the mold to form a freestanding column; the silicon formwork was then removed, and concrete was poured over the wax. Once the concrete was fully cured, the wax was melted and the process was repeated for the remaining components. Thinness is just the first step in what Aptum sees as a collaborative, interdisciplinary future between academia and concrete manufacturers. In the future, APTUM wants to scale up the technology behind Thinness to encompass structural elements and has released a rendering of a speculative skyscraper made from the same components. Thinness was recognized with a citation in the AIA’s 12th Annual R+D Awards this year. The project was also on display at the Designing Material Innovation exhibition presented by the California College of the Arts earlier this year. Design Firm: Aptum Architecture, Syracuse, N.Y., Roger Hubeli, Julie Larsen, Assoc. AIA (project team) Industry Partner: Cemex Global R&D, Davide Zampini, Alexandre Guerini, Jeremy Esser, Matthew Meyers (project team) Fabricator: Cemex Global R&D Structural Engineer: Sinéad Mac Namar Research Assistants: Sean Morgan, Ethan Schafer
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Sculptural concrete canopies cool a San Antonio public park

As implied by its name, Confluence Park overlooks the meeting of San Pedro Creek and the San Antonio River in San Antonio, Texas. Located about three miles south of downtown, the park acts as a gateway for the historic Mission Reach section of the San Antonio River. The $13.7 million project includes an education center and extensive landscaping that illustrates the diverse biomes of Texas. But what most visitors will remember about the 3.5-acre park are the nearly 30-foot-tall concrete petals that emerge from the ground to form a sprawling overhead canopy. Twenty-two of these sculptural panels are clustered together to form a single, large, open-air pavilion. Another six are paired together to form three smaller gathering areas. In addition to providing relief from the South Texas sun, these panels are shaped so that when it rains, they channel water into an integrated system of rainwater collection, filtration, and dispersal. All of this reinforces the stated mission of the park, which is to act as a destination for recreation while teaching important lessons about environmental science and sustainability. To that end, the design team sought to create a composition of architectural and landscape elements that used the same kind of logic found in nature. Ball-Nogues Studio, a Los Angeles–based design practice, established the park’s conceptual master plan. From there, the design was developed in close collaboration with the landscape architect Rialto Studio, Lake|Flato Architects, and Matsys, a San Francisco–based design practice that specializes in the development of new approaches to architectural design and fabrication. That particular skill set was critical in the development of the park’s concrete. Given the structural gymnastics involved, the project’s structural engineer, Architectural Engineers Collaborative (AEC), became an integral part of the design team as well. Although petals of steel, fabric, and wood were all considered during the design process, concrete was ultimately selected for its durability and permanence. Even though the majority of funding for the project came from private donations, Confluence Park functions as a public park, and so vandalism and long-term resiliency were key considerations. Despite the apparent complexity of the assembled petals, the design only required three unique petal shapes. These three forms were refined digitally using Grasshopper and Rhino. The resulting computer files were then provided to Kreysler & Associates and fed to their large 5-axis CNC router at their factory in California. The resulting Styrofoam “positives” were then used to manufacture the fiberglass “negatives” that were shipped to San Antonio to be used as formwork for the petals. Each of the park’s 28 petals was cast on-site but not in place. Given their complex geometry, a portion of the petal had to be exposed during the pour. This resulted in two contrasting concrete textures: a smooth finish where the concrete was poured into the fiberglass form, and a broom finish where the concrete was left exposed. As with many other aspects of the project, a custom solution was required here, too. A special eight-inch broom was used to apply the finish consistently to the petal’s curved form and to emulate the flow of water down the petals. After the concrete had cured for several days, the petals were lifted into their final positions. As with any tilt-up concrete structure, this was the moment when the highest stresses would be placed upon the petals. Adding to the complexity of the erection process was the fact that the petals had to be assembled in pairs: neighboring petals were joined to one another with two steel pin connections to form a determinant structure. The result of all this effort is a unique landmark on the south side of San Antonio. Despite the weight of the concrete petals—individual petals weigh between 15 and 20 tons each—the resulting structure feels remarkably light. The space between individual petals contributes to this feeling of weightlessness, while acrylic lenses embedded in the concrete add a bit of playfulness to the overall composition. In addition to illustrating the possibilities of contemporary concrete construction, Confluence Park demonstrates what is possible when a highly collaborative interdisciplinary design team works with an educated client to create something truly unique. It is only fitting that a park built to celebrate the confluence of diverse bodies of water be created by a confluence of diverse design professionals. Pavilion Design Matsys Landscape Architect Rialto Studio Structural Engineer Architectural Eng. Collaborative MEP CNG Engineering, PLLC Lighting Designer Mazzetti Energy Consultants Positive Energy Waterproofing Consultant Acton Partners This article originally appeared in the July/August issue of Texas Architect magazine.
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As mass timber's popularity grows, the concrete industry goes on the offensive

Is wood dangerous? It’s one of the oldest, most sustainable building materials (if harvested correctly) and recent advances in cross-laminated timber (CLT) have made it possible to build taller, multifamily timber buildings, but local building codes are just beginning to catch up. Sure, any Girl Scout knows that you can’t start a fire without it, but it’s generally considered kosher: CLT boosters say that if contractors know how to work with the material, timber is just as safe as steel. Despite their widespread use, concrete industry groups strenuously object to the use of “combustible materials” in construction. One industry group has launched an email campaign to ostensibly make members of the AEC industry aware of (non–fire-treated) wood’s shortcomings. These emails are part of an ongoing battle between the wood, concrete and steel industries, a conflict which seems to have escalated in concert with the growing popularity of CLT and the introduction of the timber innovation act, which would provide government support to the development of mass timber technology. With ominous subject lines like “Georgia Bill Would Leave Savannah Exposed to Hurricane Threat” and “Flames Quickly Consume Combustible Denver Apartment Complex Under Construction,” the emails seem to sow doubt about the durability and safety of timber buildings. The five-story, 84-unit Denver building detailed in the latter missive was under construction when it was engulfed by fire. “Combustible materials have no place in mid-rise housing projects, regardless of whether they’re under construction or fully operational,” said Kevin Lawlor, spokesperson for Build with Strength, which initiated the campaign, in the email. “These buildings are effectively tinderboxes on steroids, and when a fire breaks out, they’re incredibly difficult to extinguish.” Build with Strength is a partnership convened by the National Ready Mixed Concrete Association. As their names suggest, both groups are unabashedly pro-noncombustible materials, concrete and steel included. Reached by phone, Lawlor said Build with Strength doesn’t have a beef with wood—it just wants to fulfill its mission of educating the AEC industry on the benefits of ready-mixed concrete and its use in low- to mid-rise buildings. Its members include architects, engineers, steel and concrete interests, political leaders, and even religious organizations. “It’s not a materials fight,” Lawlor said. “The goal is to promote safer construction in three- to seven-story buildings. The notices are not specifically designed to go out and attack any particular industry.”
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Experiments with fabric form concrete on view at NYIT

Romantic notions would have us imagine finished sculptural forms as trapped within raw, unhammered rock until the artist who divines their truth liberates them. Isamu Noguchi had a more nuanced understanding of how sculpture might emerge from stone. He saw the final work as the result of a dialogue between subject and object, with the outcome contingent on their chance meeting. Happenstance, as stone was sometimes to Noguchi, was the medium of his friend and occasional collaborator John Cage. Known for setting up frameworks to embrace unintended occurrences, Cage’s work put forward incidental manifestations within parameters he set up as the finished outcome. Naomi Frangos, professor and curator of Inhabiting Surface, an exhibit at the New York Institute of Technology (NYIT), had the student authors of the exhibited works study Noguchi’s sculptures as part of a collaborative project with professor Rennie Tang. As a visitor to the exhibition, familiar traces of Noguchi’s dialogue was apparent in their work. While spending time with artifacts of the process by which they were made, Cage’s chance became palpable. Yet what made the long trip to this remote show in Long Island worthwhile were the ways that these architectural experiments went beyond the work of canonic thinkers to stir the more nebulous topic of specific human bodies that architecture usually neglects. Casting any material is usually done using rigid formwork that sets up stable negative spaces that will produce the same outcome over and over again. Frangos, however, directed students to sew flexible, woven, plastic fabric into sacks of their own design to restrain the concrete while it was still in fluid form. Scaffolding made of the same rebar usually inside the formwork was installed around the flaccid sewn bags and served as restraints to influence the final form as the liquid concrete engorged them. Lime slumped over steel, concrete hardened against plastic to make it appear forever wet. Fabric removed, the shapes that emerged evoked Noguchi chats, yet this time he might have been speaking with a younger stone still plump with baby fat. With Frangos’ technique in the students’ hands, a direction for spatial production opened up to the same uncanny collapse of the distinction between building and body sought by Aziz + Cucher's mole-ridden interiors, festooned with follicles, or more directly akin to Andrew Kudless’ P-Wall. Displayed alongside the sculptural objects were the flayed formwork skins themselves. Like the Shroud of Turin, efflorescent traces of the casting’s seepage furthered a sense of how imperfect human bodies might find their way into how architecture is made. Inhabiting Surface’s greatest promise was the hint toward an architectural future that might become through the process of play, discovery, and openness to the unintended that Frangos and Tang encouraged. As these young practitioners set the agenda for the way buildings are to be made, their next experiments will move up in scale from the sculptural to the inhabitable. In a couple of decades, it is my hope to walk in to a building designed by one of these young people that makes me feel at home in the same time-based body that will certainly have sagged by then as well. Inhabiting Surface, Studies in Variable Formwork Design New York Institute of Technology, Center Gallery, Education Hall, Old Westbury Northern Boulevard, New York February 26–April 2, 2018
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Ultrathin concrete roof to cap a net-positive energy rooftop apartment

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A full-scale prototype of the design was the culmination of a four-year research project by ETH Zürich, and now the thin-shell integrated system's concrete roof is under construction. The razor-thin assembly, built over the course of six months, tapers to an impressive one-inch thickness at the perimeter, averaging two inches thick across its more than 1,700 square feet of surface area. The ongoing project, sponsored by ETH Zürich, NCCR Digital Fabrication, and Holcim Schweiz, will lead to the completion of a rooftop apartment unit called HiLo, which will offer live-work space for guest faculty of Empa, the Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology.  
  • Facade Manufacturer Jakob (cables); Bruno Lehmann (rods and cable-net components); Blumer Lehmann (timber); Dafotech (steel supports + plates); Bieri (fabric cutting + sewing)
  • Architects supermanoeuvre; Bollinger+Grohmann
  • Facade Installer Marti (general contractor); Bürgin Creations (concrete); Holcim Schweiz (concrete development); Doka (scaffolding)
  • Facade Consultants ETH Zürich (Block Research Group, Mathematical and Physical Geodesy, Automatic Control Laboratory)
  • Location Zürich & Dübendorf, Switzerland
  • Date of Completion 2017-18
  • System thin shell concrete with integrated systems
  • Products custom assembly of concrete, steel cable net, polymer textile formwork, heating and cooling coils, insulation, and thin-film photovoltaic cells
The rooftop structure rises about 24 feet high, encompassing 1,300 square feet. Innovations in thin-shell building techniques were explored by the Block Research Group, led by Professor Block and senior researcher Dr. Tom Van Mele, together with the architecture office supermanoeuvre. The team purposefully avoided wasteful non-reusable formwork, opting instead to develop a net of steel cables stretched into a reusable scaffolding structure. The cable net supported a polymer textile that forms the shell surface. According to ETH Zurich press release, “this not only enabled the researchers to save a great deal on material for construction, they were also able to provide a solution to efficiently realise completely new kinds of design.” The construction technique leaves the interior floor area below the roof relatively unobstructed, allowing interior construction work to proceed concurrently. Altogether, this method is expected to condense construction to eight to ten weeks. Block Research Group and NCCR Digital Fabrication were able to digitally model dynamic forces wet concrete applies to the lightweight cable net and textile formwork, so that the overall geometry and structuring of the surface can be calibrated to produce an accurate result. This level of optimization is perhaps most evident in the capacity of the reusable formwork system to hold around 25 times its own weight (20 tons of wet concrete will eventually load onto the formwork).
Experts from Bürgin Creations and Marti sprayed the concrete using a method developed specifically for this purpose, ensuring that the textile could withstand the pressure at all times. Together with Holcim Schweiz, the scientists determined the correct concrete mix, which had to be fluid enough to be sprayed and vibrated yet viscous enough to not flow off the fabric shuttering, even in the vertical spots. The innovative concrete structure offers more than a new method for constructing concrete shell structures: it’s aim is to be an intelligent, lightweight energy-producing system. This is achieved by careful assembly of multiple layers of building systems. Two layers of concrete sandwich together insulation, heating and cooling coils, while thin-film photovoltaic cells wrap the exterior surface. The residential unit, enclosed by this roof system, and an adaptive solar-shaded facade, is expected to generate more energy than it consumes.  “We’ve shown that it’s possible to build an exciting thin concrete shell structure using a lightweight, flexible formwork, thus demonstrating that complex concrete structures can be formed without wasting large amounts of material for their construction” said Block in a press release. Because we developed the system and built the prototype step by step with our partners from industry, we now know that our approach will work at the NEST construction site.” You can view progress at the Dübendorf, Switzerland construction site via live webcam, accessed here.
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New map pays tribute to concrete and Brutalist buildings across New York City

Blue Crow Media, a publishing group that publishes architectural guides for cities worldwide, just released a map glorifying concrete structures across New York City—titled, appropriately, Concrete New York. Among the structures highlighted by the map, many will be familiar to AN's readers. Eero Saarinen's TWA Terminal at JFK airport, currently being renovated into a 505-room hotel, is listed, as is the Marcel Breuer–designed granite and concrete monolith now home to the Met Breuer. Perhaps less visited is Breuer's Begrisch Hall on the Bronx Community College campus or I.M. Pei's Silver Towers at NYU. Concrete infrastructure also gets its due: the Cleft Ridge Span at Prospect Park (completed in 1872) is featured as well as the more recent Dattner Architects and WXY Studio-designed Spring Street Salt Shed (completed in 2015). In Greenwich Village, New Yorkers will recognize New Orleans architect Albert Ledner's Curran/O'Toole Building, unmistakable with its double cantilevered, scallop-edged facade, formerly serving as St. Vincent's Hospital (a landmark institution for victims of the HIV/AIDS crisis). The guide also points out historic works by Paul Rudolph, Frank Lloyd Wright, Edward Durell Stone, and many others. The map was edited by Allison Meier, a Brooklyn-based writer. The next guide will look at the use of concrete in Tokyo, and will be available next month. Previous maps by Blue Crow Media have examined modernism in Berlin and Belgrade, art deco in London, and constructivism in Moscow, although Brutalism remains their favorite topic to date, with maps on the subject for Boston, London, Paris, Sydney, and Washington, D.C.
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MARS Pavilion experiments with robotic construction

How do two young designers get to participate in an invite-only robotics conference in Palm Springs, California, organized by Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos? First, you have to be creative; second, you have to get your work online, and finally, you have to be lucky. Joseph Sarafian and Ron Culver, AIA were classmates at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) Graduate School of Architecture and Urban Design in Greg Lynn’s studio. They were exploring how to use digital design to create unique components that could be fabricated using state-of-the-art industrial robotics, the kind of robots that build cars. They developed a system that allowed the designers to go directly from a digital image to physical reality. Their prototype eventually found its way onto the internet. Then, according to Sarafian, “We got an email from Amazon’s team out of the blue, after seeing our robotic concrete research 'Fabric Forms’ on blogs and websites.” They were invited to attend what Amazon calls their MARS Conference (Machine learning, Automation, Robotics, Space exploration). Like a private TED Conference, the MARS Conference brings together business leaders, academics and others pushing the envelope of technology.  

The resulting MARS Pavilion prototype—including an exhibition and video of the design process—is currently on view at the A+D Architecture and Design Museum in the Los Angeles Arts District.  The pavilion will be up through Saturday, October 7 and has been sponsored by CTS Cement and Helix Steel.

Besides acquiring The Washington Post and Whole Foods, Jeff Bezos owns Blue Origin, a space exploration company that is intended to compete with Elon Musk’s SpaceX. The Blue Origin company motto is “Gradatim Ferociter,” Latin for “Step by Step, Ferociously.” This motto might also apply to the work of Sarafian and Culver. The MARS Pavilion by their firm Form Found Design (FFD) is the first robotically-cast concrete pavilion in the world. While it is intriguing to look at, what is more important than its image is its method of design and construction. The MARS Pavilion consists of 70 unique, robotically-cast “wishbone” shaped components that are all bolted together with an identical steel connection detail.  Using the robotic precision of large ABB industrial robots, they achieved a tolerance of 1/16 inch. This is extraordinary in concrete construction, where the usual level of tolerance is ¼ inch—It’s an improvement of 400%. All the MARS Pavilion forms are derived from concrete’s most inherent quality, compression. Walter P. Moore performed a structural engineering analysis and recommended one-inch "Helix Steel" twisted fibers for reinforcement rather than traditional re-bar. This provides greater flexibility. The goal is to allow for the precision fabrication of a wide range of design components at low cost. Ron Culver described their approach as “a true digital workflow where previously unbuildable complex geometry is now feasible.” In downtown Los Angeles, for example, Diller Scofidio + Renfro designed the Broad Museum proposing many unique concrete forms. Due to cost constraints, the design had to be simplified so that only the oculus (a curved opening at the front of the building) survived the value engineering and cost-cutting process. FFD believe their approach will allow design variation in concrete with no additional cost. FFD envisions many future applications including creating economical housing solutions for developing nations. Sarafian explained, “We are interested in exploring this fabrication technique to create an easy-to-assemble housing prototype for developing countries.” The MARS Pavilion installation is on view through October 7th at the A+D Architecture and Design Museum, 900 E 4th St, Los Angeles, CA 90013, tickets are available for the closing reception here. You can follow Follow their FFD's work on Instagram @formfound_design
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Craft collaborations elevate Thakoon’s flagship Soho store by SHoP Architects

Like an architect, fashion designer Thakoon Panichgul carefully balances contemporary and historical influences. His eponymous brand has won him fans from Michelle Obama to Target, but when it came time to build a brick-and-mortar store, Panichgul and New York–based SHoP faced a more complex balancing act. They wanted to carefully devise an interior that would reflect its Soho surroundings and the Thakoon aesthetic, all while grabbing the attention of passersby and setting itself apart from competitors.

“Thakoon was really interested in making [the store] of its place, of New York, bringing in the grit of the city,” said Coren Sharples, principal at SHoP. Concrete with dark aggregate covers the floors, and the architects tapped Brooklyn-based Fernando Mastrangelo Studio to cast multiple concrete walls throughout the store. Mastrangelo reproduced the subtle gradients of his furniture on an architectural scale, pouring multiple layers of gray-hued concrete in a single casting. “This was crazy, it was done on site,” said Sharples. “This was formed up and poured. Really a little scary, but [Mastrangelo] was amazing.”

Wood was also an important part of Panichgul’s vision—the designer had prepared a mood board with several wood treatments that figured prominently in other fashion brands’ aesthetics. These ranged from light treatments with vernacular ornamentation (what he called “American Traditional”) to richly grained and darkly stained (“American Glam”). SHoP and Panichgul ultimately chose an unfinished white oak (“American Cool”), a look that left the wood in its raw, natural state. White oak surfaces sinuously undulate along the showroom’s walls even as they retain a dry, coarse texture. The architects and client also worked closely with Brooklyn-based furniture maker Vonnegut/Kraft on the store’s wood furniture: Connection details, leather seating, and each edge and taper went through multiple iterations before landing on a design that features simple woven-leather straps. Vonnegut/Kraft’s pieces stand in the main showroom and hug the curves of each dressing room.

Extra seating is provided by travertine blocks that were CNC-milled in Italy to 3-D models provided by SHoP. Panichgul tapped London-based designer Michael Anastassiades for the principal lighting features: simple orbs with brass detailing. Brass is also used for the store’s clothing rods and the towering sculptural display rack that stands prominently in the main showroom.

Taken all together, the materials find ways to somehow be both angular and curved, smooth and gritty, even as their neutral tones give the clothing center stage. “We wanted it to be infused with material sensibility and warmth, but at the same time, it’s always this line you walk because you don’t want to overpower or dictate,” said Sharples.

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Liz Glynn turns a corner of Central Park South into a Gilded Age living room for all

For her Public Art Fund piece in Central Park, artist Liz Glynn has spilled the contents of a super-rich enclave out onto the sidewalk for all to enjoy. Open House's cast concrete furnishings, laid out on a public plaza at the southeast corner of Central Park, reference the interiors of one of Manhattan's most famous Gilded Age mansions. Notably, the now-demolished home of politician William C. Whitney featured a 1,000-person ballroom, the kind of mahogany-and-silk fantasia where Ellen Olenska might have caught Newland Archer's eye. Gracing a corner just eight blocks north of the exhibition, the Stanford White–designed home was a lavish gathering place for New York elite. Turn-of-the-century society mingled in its ballroom, one of the grandest private spaces in the city, luxuriating on real and reproduction 18th-century French furniture. Glynn, who's based in Los Angeles, reproduced 26 of those couches, chairs, footstools and graceful entryways in concrete—a material of the people, she told The Architect's Newspaper, that she chose for its associations with working-class modernist housing, particularly in the work of Le Corbusier. The spacious outdoor interior (what Glynn calls her "ruin") was informed by archival research into the gracious homes of old New York, when (like now) the gap between the haves and have-nots defined the production of space in the city. The work reflects too on the decadence of today's ultra-rich, whose tastes shape the New York skyline into wastebaskets and all-glass everything. By turning the private into public, Glynn questions how social class in the city is performed and displayed. "In putting together this exhibition," said associate curator Daniel S. Palmer, "we asked, 'How can we make something that engages the entirety of the plaza, and make this an embodied architectural space?'" Although it officially opens tomorrow, New Yorkers were already making the most of their new living room. A woman was lounging in one of the armchairs, applying chapstick, while another scooped her pug up onto a couch to chat with a friend. To withstand three seasons' worth of weather but allow for design flexibility, the GFRC concrete was blended with an acrylic polymer that allowed Glynn to imprint patterns into the cushions, while decorative wood details are rendered evocatively in the same material. The furniture retains the elegance of its Whitney predecessors, but at 500 to 900 pounds apiece, they are theft-proof and durable enough for ten thousand butts. Open House is on view through September 24 at Doris C. Freedman Plaza, at the northwest corner of 60th Street and Fifth Avenue.
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"Modern day Machu Picchu" wins RIBA's first International Prize

Lauded as a "modern day Machu Picchu" by judges, Irish firm Grafton Architects has won the inaugural RIBA International Prize for their Universidad de Ingeniería y Tecnología (University of Engineering and Technology, known as "UTEC") building in Peru. The Dublin-based practice saw off competition from Zaha Hadid Architects, Foster+Partners, David Chipperfield, Nicholas Grimshaw, Shigeru Ban, and this year's RIBA Stirling Prize winner Caruso St John.

"Grafton Architects have created an innovative new model for a university campus that is highly responsive to its local environment and community," said RIBA president Jane Duncan. "The concept of a ‘vertical campus’ defies convention, as does the mix of open and enclosed spaces, but both are key to the success of this building visually and spatially."

The Dublin firm worked alongside local studio Shell Arquitectos on the design for UTEC, which echoes South American brutalist vernacular and the dramatic topography of the site. Contrary to its external aesthetic, the building is home to a myriad of open and visually connected spaces (especially circulatory ones) that work in tandem with the site's climate. In fact, the only closed spaces are classrooms, offices, laboratories, lecture theaters, seminar rooms, and toilets. As a result, campus social life can take place in the open air, encased by terracing yet on display to those passing through. UTEC officially opened in April 2015 and, according to RIBA, it is the "culmination of years of spatial and formal experimentation by Grafton Architects."

RIBA's "International Prize" is the first from the architectural body that is open to any qualified architect in the world. This year's jury saw esteemed architects Richard Rogers and Kunlé Adeyemi form a five member strong judging panel. According to RIBA, the new prize is "awarded to the most transformative building of the year which demonstrates visionary, innovative thinking, excellence of execution, and makes a distinct contribution to its users and to its physical context."

UTEC was selected as the winner of the 2016 RIBA International Prize from the following outstanding shortlisted entries:

  • Arquipelago Contemporary Arts Centre, Menos é Mais, Arquitectos Associados with João Mendes Ribeiro Arquitecto, Lda
  • Heydar Aliyev Centre, Zaha Hadid Architects with DiA Holding
  • Museo Jumex, David Chipperfield Architects with Taller Abierto de Arquitectura y Urbanismo (TAAU)
  • Stormen Concert Hall, Theatre and Public Library, DRDH Architects
  • The Ring of Remembrance, International WWI Memorial of Notre-Dame-de-Lorette, Agence d’architecture Philippe Prost (AAPP)

The awarding jury also made the following (collective) comments:

Sitting on the border of two residential districts in Lima, in section UTEC perches tantalizingly on the edge of a ravine. Seen from across the ravine it is as bold and as pure a statement of the symbiosis between architecture and engineering as could be imagined; a piece of geology imposed on its pivotal site, mirroring the organic curve of the landscape and accommodating itself in the city. To its close neighbours, it is a series of landscaped terraces with clefts, overhangs and grottos, a modern day Machu Picchu. UTEC has been designed to encourage its students to interact in a unique way with the building. The vertical structure provides open circulation and meeting spaces in a succession of platforms that compose the ‘frame’ of the building; teaching rooms, laboratories and offices are enclosed, inserted into and suspended from the exposed concrete structure. The frame is a device providing shade, a place of rich spatial exuberance and a platform from which to view the life of the city. The entire life of this vertical campus is on full display to the people of Lima. UTEC is the culmination of years of experimentation by Grafton Architects. In this building they show the mastery of their craft, gifting Lima with a bold yet considerate contribution to the city and a visionary, world-class building.