Photokina 2014 highlights

Building and Construction

World's biggest HD video board under construction (Credit Harold Hinson/CMS Photo)

NASCAR fans are in for a high-definition treat this year at the Charlotte Motor Speedway in Concord, North Carolina, where construction of a gargantuan 200-foot-wide x 80-foot-tall screen is underway. Billed as the world's largest HD video board, the structure will weigh 332.5 tons (665,000 pounds) and contain more than 9 million LED lamps when the switch is flicked for racing events in May.  Read More

By night the motorized doors secure the shops behind them

Motorized door technology adapted from airplane hangars and factory buildings, plus recycled materials from two abandoned warehouses have been used to create a dramatic, industrial-inspired facade for the Wyckoff Exchange in the Bushwick section Brooklyn, New York. The 100-foot-long, eighteen-foot-tall facade is only two inches deep, a feat achieved by architecture and design firm Andre Kikoski Architect (AKA) through innovative technology and construction processes.  Read More

The 1880 defense tower, located in the Suffolk wetlands

British home designer Duncan Jackson recently joined forces with architectural firm Piercy Conner to transform an 1880 defense tower in Suffolk, England into a stylish and accommodating home. The defense tower, being a historically-registered building, was transformed whilst maintaining its structural appearance and integrity. The project came with a list of obstacles, including the tower's round structure, minimal windows, 12 foot-thick walls and wetlands environment. Despite these hurdles, the joint venture successfully created a contemporary home with an abundance of light, warmth and a streamlined interior design.  Read More

Main image shows extensive plastic shielding of an initially sharp crack. Inset is a magni...

It seems hard to believe that glass could be stronger than steel, but a team of researchers has developed a super-strong metallic glass that has incredible plasticity when placed under stress, making it as strong and tough as metal. Typically, the structure of glass is strong but brittle which can cause cracks to develop and spread. The new metallic glass features palladium which has a high “bulk-to-shear” stiffness ratio. This allows the metallic glass to bend rather than crack – giving it a fracture toughness that goes beyond the limits of some of the strongest and toughest materials known.  Read More

The ECO:Shield housing system is suitable for temporary use in disaster areas or for areas...

Each year natural disasters and civil unrest leave hundreds of thousands of people homeless throughout the world. Many of these crises occur in developing nations where traditional building materials are either unavailable or prohibitively expensive, and where the focus is often on staying alive, not maintenance of a home. The ECO:Shield system from Innovative Composites International Inc. (ICI) may present a welcome solution. The earthquake and hurricane resistant houses use recyclable materials and according to ICI, are cheaper than both conventional and other modular constructions. They are energy efficient and durable – resisting moisture, insects, rot and mould. And they can be constructed quickly using unskilled labor: an 8' x 16' (2.4 x 4.9 meters) ECO:Shield house can be assembled in less than 45 minutes with standard tools.  Read More

Italcementi's i.light in place at the Italian pavilion at Expo 2010 (Photo: Italcementi)

Visitors to last year’s World Expo in Shanghai might have noticed that the outer walls of the Italian pavilion were kind of... unusual. Although they felt solid, and looked like concrete when viewed from an angle, light was able to pass through them. How was it possible? They were made from what the Italcementi Group refers to as “transparent cement,” and has trademarked as i.light. It’s definitely a unique substance, as it blurs the line between wall and window.  Read More

The house made of hemp

America's first house made primarily of hemp has been built. Using a product known as Hemcrete – a mix of industrial hemp, lime and water – a team of 40 volunteers, sub-contractors and designers have recently completed construction of the hemp house in Asheville, North Carolina. Eco-friendly design and construction company Push Design has gained the support of community members and local officials alike and now plans to build more of these houses, which offer exceptional strength and longevity, breathability, unsurpassed indoor air quality and two-pronged carbon sequestration attributes.  Read More

The Zayed National Museum

Foster + Partners, the UK-based architectural firm behind such innovative designs as Qatar’s Lusail Iconic Stadium and Masdar City, has unveiled yet another breathtaking concept with its design for the Zayed National Museum in Abu Dhabi. The design comprises five wing-shaped solar towers sculpted aerodynamically to work like the feathers of a bird’s wing and draw cooling air currents through the museum.  Read More

Dorin Stefan's 'Floating Observatories' tower; construction begins in 2012 in Taechung, Ta...

It might look like something out of Isaac Asimov's imagination, it might look like it could never stand up, but this bizarre concept building is about to go into construction. "Floating Observatories" is Stefan Dorin's winning entry in the recent Taiwan Tower Conceptual International Competition - and in return for his US$130,000 first prize, now he has to actually build the thing. The new tower, standing more than 300 metres tall with its helium-filled observatory "leaves", will be the crown jewel of Taechung, the third largest city in Taiwan.  Read More

RavenSkin insulation delays heat transfer for when temperatures drop

RavenBrick, the company that brought us the smart tinting RavenWindow, has added to its folio of temperature regulating building materials with RavenSkin. Unlike traditional insulation that blocks all heat equally, this innovative wall insulation material absorbs heat during the day to keep the interior cool and slowly releases the stored heat at night to warm the building when the sun goes down.  Read More

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