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Skyscrapers Will Be Built Like Sponges

Skyscrapers Will Be Built Like Sponges

Caroline Delbert tells us The Next Generation of Skyscrapers Will Be Built Like Sponges and sheds some light on Why the animal’s strange skeleton is crucial to the future of construction.


13 October 2020marine sponge inspires skyscraper constructionOZGUR DONMAZ/GETTY/MATHEUS FERNANDES/HARVARD SEAS

The next generation of skyscrapers could be, well, spongey. Researchers at Harvard University’s Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering and John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences say a lattice reinforced with diagonals, inspired by the structures built by sponges, could mean lighter, but stronger skyscrapers and bridges.

Sponges are wild. They’re not just alive—they’re resilient predators that reproduce sexually, despite having no organs or tissues or even a traditional “inside” of their body structures. In a way, they’re living structures already, and their sturdiness is what helps them survive.

The researchers explain in their new paper:

“The predominantly deep-sea hexactinellid sponges are known for their ability to construct remarkably complex skeletons from amorphous hydrated silica. The skeletal system of one such species of sponge, Euplectella aspergillum, consists of a square-grid-like architecture overlaid with a double set of diagonal bracings, creating a chequerboard-like pattern of open and closed cells.”

Beginning with this structure as a guide, the scientists built a 3D physics model and put the sponge and a selection of other traditional building types through the ringer. “[U]sing a combination of finite element simulations and mechanical tests on 3D-printed specimens of different lattice geometries, we show that the sponge’s diagonal reinforcement strategy achieves the highest buckling resistance for a given amount of material,” they conclude.

Existing things use both square and diagonal lattices depending on the item. If you’ve owned enough plastic milk crates in your life, you’ve likely seen both structures just in those designs.ADVERTISEMENT – CONTINUE READING BELOWhttps://dc349419a6f5a80cdd0dfe662fdc99d4.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-37/html/container.htmlhttps://dc349419a6f5a80cdd0dfe662fdc99d4.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-37/html/container.html

composite rendering that transitions from a glassy sponge skeleton on the left to a welded rebar based lattice on the right

Composite rendering that transitions from a glassy sponge skeleton on the left to a welded rebar-based lattice on the right. PETER ALLEN, RYAN ALLEN, AND JAMES C. WEAVER/HARVARD SEAS

But the sponge-inspired lattice is double layered, resulting in something more like a basket weave you may have seen on the seat of a wooden chair. By testing the structural strength of the sponge, researchers have combined the best of building with the best of weaving, in a way.

The most important takeaway, they say, could be to build the same strength and size of building, but with less building materials. They could also just broadly improve the materials used for less optimal designs, especially in infrastructure like bridges. The scientists explain:

“Our results demonstrate that lessons learned from the study of sponge skeletal systems can be exploited for the realization of square lattice geometries that are geometrically optimized to avoid global structural buckling, with implications for improved material use in modern infrastructural applications.”

Indeed, they’ve already applied for the patent.

RELATED STORY How Animals Shaped Our Modern World

YOU’LL LOVE THIS How Engineers Build the World’s Longest Bridges

3D-printed Buildings from Soil

3D-printed Buildings from Soil

Eco-friendly technology could potentially replace concrete and revolutionise sector, reports Alex Mistlin, on 21 August 2020, for Scientists created 3D-printed buildings from soil.

Scientists have developed a method to 3D-print greener buildings using local soil that they say has the potential to revolutionise the construction industry.

The technology is designed to be a sustainable alternative to concrete, which accounts for approximately 7% of carbon dioxide emissions, according to the International Energy Agency.

 A 3D-printed building in Dubai. The technology has been used to produce entire architectural facades. Photograph: Satish Kumar/Reuters

Sarbajit Banerjee, a professor of chemistry and materials science and engineering at Texas A&M University, said 3D printing enabled a versatility that allowed them to print entire architectural facades, although getting such structures to meet existing building regulations remained a significant challenge.

Concrete remains the primary material used in many construction projects but it cannot be recycled and requires a lot of energy to mix and transport. The research team’s aim is to print structures using the type of soil that can be found in any garden.

“While the widespread use of concrete has democratised access to housing and enabled the growth of cities, this has come at a considerable environmental cost,” said Banerjee.

“The move to 3D-print concrete threatens to exacerbate this problem. However, we envision a new paradigm of construction that uses naturally sourced materials. Using such materials will further pave the way for building designs that are specifically adapted to the needs of local climates, instead of cookie-cutter houses.

“We see this as a means of providing dignified habitats to some of the neediest populations across the world.”

What’s more, the use of local materials would reduce the need to transport concrete long distances, further reducing the environmental impact of the buildings.

The research team’s plan to replace concrete with the earth beneath our feet depends on their ability to improve soil’s load-bearing capabilities, to which Banerjee said they “are making excellent progress”.

Once they have a clearer idea of the limits of the technology, Banerjee and his team plan to investigate how it might allow for building on other planets.

“We see this research not just as a means of replacing concrete but allowing for construction in difficult environments. For instance, we have worked on addressing the problem of building all-weather roads in the subarctic. [The technology] could one day be used beyond Earth, to create settlements on the moon or even Mars.”

Here is below the World’s Largest 3D Printed House: by Apis Cor in Dubai

If you hear of an exciting or innovative building project, there is a high likelihood it will involve Dubai. Dubai have been championing ambitious architectural projects for years, and have recently made the bold move of aiming to have 25% of new buildings 3D printed by 2030.

This administrative building comprises two floors, featuring beautiful 3D printed architecture born out of an ongoing collaboration between Russian 3D printed house company Apis Cor and the Dubai Municipality.

We expect much more to come from Apis Cor in Dubai, as this building is considered by them to be just a test for larger 3D printed house projects for the future. It is claimed to have been to test whether Apis Cor’s concrete 3D printer could print a building in Dubai’s heat — and passed with flying colours.

 

Glass Facades – An obsolete typology

Glass Facades – An obsolete typology

An Opinion Piece by Simon Sturgis elaborates on Glass Facades – An obsolete typology and here are his thoughts. The man has a year ago clarified his ideas in the Guardian as saying:

“If you’re building a greenhouse in a climate emergency, it’s a pretty odd thing to do, to say the least,” said Simon Sturgis, an adviser to the government and the Greater London Authority, as well as chairman of the Royal Institute of British Architects sustainability group. “If you’re using standard glass facades you need a lot of energy to cool them down, and using a lot of energy equates to a lot of carbon emissions.”

Glass Facades – An obsolete typology
People sit on deckchairs near the Lloyds of London building during the heatwave. Photograph: Dominic Lipinski/PA

Glass facades for buildings have been a staple of commercial architecture since the 1950s, and the advent of two New York buildings in particular: the Seagram Building, designed by Mies Van de Rohe, and the United Nations Secretariat Building, designed by Oscar Niemeyer and Le Corbusier.

Both buildings offered a post-war vision of shiny modernity and the latter, completed in 1952, was the first example of a fully glazed, curtain-walled building using the then recent innovation of air conditioning. In the 1950s, energy was cheap, and there was no thought of a climate crisis.

The architectural and sculptural appeal of all-glass facades combined with the speed and economy of construction has remained irresistible to architects and developers, the benefits of great views and an abundance of natural light have also made them attractive to occupiers and therefore easy to let. This combination of these factors has proved enduring for the past 70 years.

Despite that history, the case for all-glass facades now needs to be re-examined for two vital reasons: resource efficiency and climate change. In practice, these two are connected, as increasing the efficiency with which resources are used reduces carbon emissions.

The most obvious source of carbon emissions for an all-glass building is the energy used in the cooling required to mitigate the heat gain from the façade, which is typically double-glazed. The greater the proportion of glass in a facade, the greater the load on the air-conditioning and the greater the carbon emissions.

The second and less obvious source of carbon emissions related to such a facade is the material-related emissions associated with sourcing, manufacture, transport, construction, maintenance and disposal, which are known as embodied emissions.

The requirement to reduce air-conditioning load while keeping an all-glass facade means that sophisticated glazing measures have to be found, and this usually means a triple-glazed facade with a large gap between the outer pane and double-glazed inner panes to accommodate electrically operated blinds.

The external and internal layers of glass are also usually laminated for safety reasons, all of which means five layers of glass are set in a deep aluminium framing system. This type of system has a high embodied carbon cost.

An additional problem is that laminated glass and double-glazed units typically have warranties of 25 years, and even if they continue to perform beyond this time, the units still tend to need replacing every 30–40 years.

Typically, replacing all the glazing leads directly to replacement of the whole system, and these systems can be difficult to recycle effectively. This therefore represents ongoing carbon and financial costs over the life cycle of an all-glass façade. Typically, the cycles over which such entire facade replacement takes place are not synchronised with the expected lease cycles either.

So, whether it from the perspective of day-to-day energy use or construction and maintenance, all-glass buildings are problematic in terms of both carbon emissions and resource efficiency. Far better from all perspectives is a facade where most of the surface area has a life expectancy of 80-100 years, and no more than 40 per cent comprises smaller, simpler double-glazed units that can be replaced when required. Such replacements are cheaper, generate less embodied carbon and are potentially less disruptive over the commercial life of the building.

Does any of this matter, however, if the rent is justifying the additional costs of a 30–40-year facade replacement cycle and demand is sufficient?

There are two areas that will make an increasing difference to investors, owners and occupiers, the first of which being regulation. In the UK for instance, the new Greater London Authorities London Plan will be requiring whole life carbon emission assessments for all referable schemes, and many glass buildings are of a size that are automatically referable. The requirement for whole life carbon assessments is spreading across an increasing number of local authorities which will also put increasing pressure on non-referable schemes to be fully carbon efficient.

Over the next ten years or so, this requirement is likely to tighten up further in response to the UK government policy for zero carbon by 2050. Today’s all-glass buildings will likely fail to meet more stringent future environmental regulations, and this will become an issue when the facades need replacing. Such replacements will almost certainly not be like for like which suggests that designing an all glass façade today is inviting early obsolescence.

The second key issue is the investment and insurance risks inherent in climate change, and the likely impact of these on occupier sentiment. There are several international organisations that are advising investors and insurers on the implications of climate change, including the Financial Stability Board’s Task Force for Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD), the World Business Council for Sustainable Development, and the Principles for Responsible Investment – Real Estate (PRI).

All of these make clear links between investment and climate change.

For example, the PRI states: ‘As part of wider efforts to implement the Paris Agreement, every real-estate asset owner, investor and stakeholder must now recognise they have a clear fiduciary duty to understand and actively manage environmental, social and governance [factors] and climate-related risks as a routine component of their business thinking, practices and management processes’.

The TCFD meanwhile says recommendations in its 2017 report ‘will ensure that the effects of climate change become routinely considered in business and investment decisions’. During 2021 the Bank of England, which already stress-tests financial institutions for financial resilience, will be including climatic risk in such testing as well. All these measures will help put climate change at the centre of financial decision-making and have a direct impact on real estate.

All-glass buildings responsible for significant carbon emissions will therefore be increasingly problematic, both from a regulatory and an investment perspective. Tenants will become concerned about occupying buildings that are not perceived to be “zero carbon”, and this can only have a negative impact on the value of all-glass buildings which therefore could also potentially become commercially obsolete.

Glass Facades – An obsolete typology
Simon Sturgis

Simon Sturgis is the founder of Targeting Zero

http://www.targetingzero.co.uk

@simonsturgis

Is it Time to Stop Building Skyscrapers?

Is it Time to Stop Building Skyscrapers?

Wasteful, damaging and outmoded: is it time to stop building skyscrapers? Wondered Rowan Moore in The Guardian‘s The Observer of Architecture. We have little to add but meditate on every word of the article. Here it is.

Wasteful, damaging and outmoded: is it time to stop building skyscrapers?

11 & 12 Jul 2020

Tall buildings are still deemed desirable, even glamorous, but experts are drawing attention to the high environmental cost of building them.

If no one ever built a skyscraper ever again, anywhere, who would truly miss them? I ask, because the engineer Tim Snelson, of the design consultancy Arup, has just blown a hole in any claim they might have had to be environmentally sustainable. Writing in this month’s issue of the architecture magazine Domus, he points out that a typical skyscraper will have at least double the carbon footprint of a 10-storey building of the same floor area.

He is talking about the resources that go into building it, what is called its “embodied” energy. Tall buildings are more structurally demanding than lower ones – it takes a lot of effort, for example, to stop them swaying – and so require more steel and concrete. In London, which is mostly built on clay as opposed to Manhattan’s rock, they require ample foundations. Snelson also mentions “in-use” energy consumption and carbon emissions – what is needed to cool and heat and run lifts, which he says are typically 20% more for tall than medium-height buildings.

Skyscrapers often indicate corruption. What they are not are markers of progress

If all this might seem pretty obvious, it’s good to have calculations to attach to a hunch. And tall buildings are still sold on the basis that they are good for the environment. Mostly the argument is about density – if you pile a lot of homes or workplaces high on one spot, it is said, then you can use land and public transport more efficiently. There’s some truth in this, but you can also achieve high levels of density without going above 10 or 12 storeys.

Every now and again you get a one-off skyscraper design that makes play of its environmental features. The Gherkin, where cooling air was to flow through spiralling internal atria, was an early example. Strata SE1, the south London tower with three wind turbines at its top was another. Often these don’t perform as promised. Even when they do, they’re fighting to overcome the self-inflicted environmental handicap of being tall buildings in the first place.

They have got away with it in part because embodied energy hasn’t until recently been paid as much attention as energy in use. It has been deemed acceptable – by the building regulations, by architects, by the professional media – to rip untold tonnes of matter from the earth and to pump similar tonnes of greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere, in order to produce magical architectural devices that might, if all their wizardry were to function as promised, pay back some of their carbon debt some time in the next century. By when it might be too late.

The view from a 20th-storey flat in London’s Strata SE1. Photograph: Sarah Lee/The Guardian

There’s another meaning to “environment”, which describes personal rather than global surroundings. In this respect, it’s a bit of mystery why towers are thought desirable: you typically progress from a windy and inhospitable plaza to a soulless lobby, to a long lift ride, to another lobby, to a flat that has to be fortified and sealed against strong winds, to a balcony (if you’re lucky) with a similarly embattled relationship to nature. Good design can mitigate at least some of these deficiencies, but good design is weirdly hard to find in new tall buildings.

Skyscraper apartments are sold on the view, with prices rising the higher you go up a building, which can indeed be spectacular. But this visual buzz goes with a range of sub-optimal physical experiences, which have been made that much less attractive by the spread of a virus that seems to thrive in air-conditioned and enclosed spaces. Architecture is not just about things you can see.

Meanwhile, towers continue to be built. An annual survey by the independent organisation New London Architecture has found that in the capital 525 buildings of 20 storeys or more are in the pipeline – either under construction, approved or going through the processes of planning applications. Other British cities, including Manchester, Liverpool and Bristol, have succumbed to the belief that there is something glamorous about this well-worn and old-fashioned building type.

Manchester’s Beetham Tower looms above the Bridgewater canal. Photograph: Tony Moran/Alamy Stock Photo

In Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, a concrete stump stands in the desert that may or may not turn into the world’s first kilometre-high tower, its progress having been stalled by the arrest on corruption charges of its patron, Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, in 2017. If it is ever completed, it will not be a sign of economic dynamism, as might have been said of the 20th century’s skyscrapers in New York and Chicago, but of the ability of a few members of an authoritarian society to accrue vast wealth for themselves.

In Britain, tall buildings are signs of failed planning, which finds it hard to discover the space for more sustainable and humane ways of building homes. In Gulf states (and indeed in Britain, to the extent that dirty money often goes into tower projects), skyscrapers often indicate corruption. What they are not are markers of progress. Advertisement

Tim Snelson puts it well: “While the collective progression of civilisations over centuries is still largely measured by the ability to build bigger, faster and taller, we have come to the point where we must put the limits on ourselves and apply our forces to the challenge of building sustainably, above all else, or risk destroying the very future that will hold our legacy.” Quite so. And why, really and truly, would you want to live in one of these things?

Egypt presses on with new capital in the desert

Egypt presses on with new capital in the desert

ZAWYA‘s INVESTMENT on 13 May, 2020 reports that Egypt presses on with new capital in the desert amid virus outbreak.
Officials see mega-projects as key source of jobs .

By Aidan Lewis and Mahmoud Mourad, Reuters News

CAIRO- While Egypt’s economy has stumbled due to the coronavirus outbreak, construction at a new capital taking shape east of Cairo is continuing at full throttle after a short pause to adjust working practices, officials say.

Cairo, Egypt – 1st December, 2016: The bridge, the Nile river & the Corniche Street in central Cairo.
Getty Images

The level of activity at the desert site – where trucks rumble down newly built roads and cranes swing over unfinished apartment blocks – reflects the new city’s political importance even as the government grapples with the pandemic.

Known as the New Administrative Capital, it is the biggest of a series of mega-projects championed by President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi as a source of growth and jobs.

Soon after coronavirus began to spread, Sisi postponed moving the first civil servants to the new city and moved back the opening of a national museum adjoining the pyramids to next year.

Productivity dipped as companies adapted to health guidelines and some labourers stayed home.

But officials have sought to keep the mega-projects going to protect jobs, and after 10 days of slowdown construction had fully resumed at the new capital with a shift system, said Amr Khattab, spokesman for the Housing Ministry, which along with the military owns the company building the city.

“The proportion of the labour force that is present on site doesn’t exceed 70%, so that the workers don’t get too close,” he said as he showed off the R5 neighbourhood, which includes about 24,000 housing units. “We work less intensively, but we do two shifts.”

Sisi, who publicly quizzes officials responsible for infrastructure projects about timetables and costs, launched the new capital in 2015.

Designed as a high-tech smart city that will house 6.5 million people and relieve congestion in Cairo, it includes government and business districts, a giant park, and a diplomatic quarter as yet unbuilt.

One senior official said last year the cost of the whole project was about $58 billion. While some Egyptians see the new capital as a source of pride, others see it as extravagant and built to benefit a cocooned elite.

‘RUNNING ON TIME’

“We have clear instructions from his excellency the president that the postponement of the opening is not a delay to the project,” said Khattab. “The project is running on time.”

Disinfection and other protective measures were visible at the construction site 45km (30 miles) east of the Nile, though some workers were only ordered to don masks when journalists started filming and others drove by crammed into a minibus. Egypt has confirmed more than 10,000 coronavirus cases, but none at the new capital.

Delays in payments to contractors and to imported supplies were additional risks, said Shams Eldin Youssef, a member of Egypt’s union for construction contractors. Khattab said the government had contractors’ payments in hand.

The Housing Ministry expects to deliver two residential districts by late 2021, while the business district should be finished by early 2022, said Ahmed al-Araby, deputy head of the new capital’s development authority. Private developers and the army are building six other neighbourhoods.

In the government district, which Khattab said was 90% complete, ministry buildings fronted with vertical strips of white stone and darkened glass lead to an open area being planted with palm trees and mini obelisks in front of a domed parliament building.

To one side a large, low-rise presidential palace is under construction.

Sisi has urged people seeking work to head to new cities being built around the country, including the new capital, which Khattab said employs some 250,000 workers.

Critics have questioned the diversion of resources away from existing cities, including Cairo, parts of which are in slow decay.

“The question about how rational this is – whether it makes sense economically, whether it is doable, whether it’s the best course of action – this question is not even asked,” Ezzedine Fishere, an Egyptian writer and senior lecturer at Dartmouth College in the United States, said by phone.

On the other side of Cairo at the new museum next to the Giza pyramids, work has also been continuing at a slower pace.

In mid-April staffing levels sank to about 40%, with plans to recover gradually to 100%, said General Atef Muftah, who oversees the project.

An update on Egypt’s New Administrative Capital is here offered by Futurology

Our Duty towards Construction

Our Duty towards Construction

Shreya Chaudhari elaborated on our duty towards construction on in Construction Technology. At a time where it is wondered how fungi can help create a green construction industry, reflecting over our duty towards the construction of buildings cannot do wrong. So read on and find out about the well-founded reasons for doing so.

Construction is the well-known process for men of building houses with some unskilled labours. Thank you for reading the misconcepted sentence. Yes, It’s often seen with an eye of simplicity and frivolous job, which isn’t. We are in much of society’s mindset that a myth is more nurtured than a fact.

Call me old fashioned, but I believe there’s something to be said for doing good, honest work. Construction is sort of the unsung hero of our culture; vital to our infrastructure. Skilled tradesmen build the places we work in, the homes we live and play in, the roads we commute on, and more. Economy’s strength is tightly linked to the construction industry keeping country to move forward. A construction site is moreover different from a person sitting in front of laptop obeying a 9 to 5 cubicle job; it’s an area of daily new challenges to pass on to the next level. It requires a diversity of skills employing everyone deserving to choose as a career.

This is a technical journey of any structure or thoughts right from the foundation to finishing and external works. In building construction, we study how the civil works are carried out in the field after they have been planned by an architect and structurally designed by an engineer. A toddler whenever points his finger towards the swinging tower crane enjoying like the dance of a robot, it’s the duty of the project team to work successfully building block by block over heights.

As we are talking about the heights, so let me take you to the most heighted man-made structure! No required nominees, it’s Burj Khalifa, Dubai (or you can even argue with one of the most famous buildings because 830 metres is really a good number).

Our Duty towards Construction
Burj Khalifa, Dubai (source: internet)

Heard about World One? A structure finding it’s place to be the tallest residential skyscraper, yet under construction of Lodha group, Mumbai.

Our Duty towards Construction
World One, Mumbai (source: internet)

I’ve my stomach full with all these heights as you will mostly get in my next blog; until then let’s see some amazing constructions. The great man-made river project in Libya has listed as the biggest irrigation project in the world. Underneath of the Sahara Desert, it consists of 2800 pipes carrying 6.5 million cubic metres of freshwater every day.

Great man-made River, Libya (source: internet)

The most beautiful building in Jakarta, Regatta Hotel complex was designed by Atelier Enam. The project’s centrepiece is the aerodynamic hotel itself that overlooks the Java sea. Now wondered that struggle to be in top 10 beautiful buildings!

Our Duty towards Construction
Hotel Regatta, Jakarta (source: internet)

But, who knew that continuous endless building of structures would permit to cease for a no while. Because of the nature of his projects, all industries and companies are surged down to a force majeure. The workers are avoiding the work at construction sites due to fear of coronavirus infection. Threatening situations are discovered due to this pandemic endangering future of the construction world.

People are particularly trying to reach out finding alternatives as I mentioned in my previous blog (A virus outside the computer). Also, many cities have adopted a definition of essential construction that allows any work necessary to build, operate, maintain or manufacture essential infrastructure without limitation construction or the constructions required in response to this public health emergency, hospital constructions, etc.

According to the industry body, there are around 20,000 ongoing projects across the country and construction work is being undertaken in around 18,000 of them i.e. involvement of workforce of about 8.5 million in construction work alone! These numbers are breath-taking when health concerns. The scenario implies that the construction work will be slow, pushing costs upward given the interest and debt servicing needed for that extra period. Definitely it will have its own consequences but would be better far than doing nothing.
Hoping the same as everyone to defeat this monster, hiding myself from the fact that I’m bored writing about it  ; )