Highlights from the 2014 LA Auto Show

Building and Construction

Planning has been granted for a unique zero-carbon underground house in the U.K.

There's more to environmentally-friendly architecture than solar-panels and thermal mass, it's also about designing buildings that are not at-odds with their surroundings - particularly if the building is in the middle of a picturesque landscape. This example form Make Architects ticks both boxes - it uses on-site renewable energy to achieve a zero-carbon design and blends almost seamlessly into the landscape by ignoring convention and, like the residents of The Shire, going underground.  Read More

Bolefloor floorboards follow the natural curve of the tree from which they are cut

There was also a time when wood was relatively cheap and plentiful in much of the world thanks to the number of trees just standing around waiting to be turned into useful things like floorboards. Unfortunately wood is neither as cheap nor plentiful as it once was, so it’s important to make the most of every tree. Instead of following the traditional line of straight-edged floorboards, Dutch company Bolefloor maximizes the coverage area of floorboards made from a particular tree by following the tree's natural curves.  Read More

Building a 15-story hotel in less than six days

China's impressive building credentials have been in the news regularly over the past few years, particularly those in evidence at the Shanghai World Expo and Beijing Olympic Games. The most recent example of the striking capability of the Chinese building industry took place in Changsha, Hunan province a few months ago. China’s Broad Group showcased their rapid building technology by constructing the 15-story Ark Hotel in less than six days. Using a team of 200 workers the structural framework was erected in just 46.5 hours and the external cladding and internal non-structural surfaces were completed in another 90 hours.  Read More

The New Orleans Arcology Habitat (NOAH) concept for the banks of the Mississippi

Arcologies, which are essentially entire cities crammed into a single high population density megastructure, are still the realm of science fiction – or games such as Simcity. But with the rebuilding of New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina ongoing, a group of designers have come up with the proposal for just such a structure designed to sit on the bank of the Mississippi. Called the New Orleans Arcology Habitat (NOAH), the structure would house 40,000 residents along with all services and amenities that would allow them to live their entire lives within its walls if they so desired.  Read More

A miniature helicopter is powered by electricity generated by the previous SolarWindow pro...

Over the past several years, a number of companies and institutions have been developing technologies that could allow windows to double as solar panels. These have included EnSol’s metal nanoparticle-based spray-on product, RSi’s photovoltaic glass and Octillion’s NanoPower window. Last September, Maryland-based New Energy Technologies joined the party by demonstrating a 4 x 4 inch (10.2 x 10.2 cm) prototype of its SolarWindow product. This Tuesday, the company unveiled a working 12 x 12 inch (30.5 x 30.5 cm) prototype, which takes it significantly closer to becoming commercially-viable.  Read More

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

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