Photokina 2014 highlights

Building and Construction

The USDA's floating wave barrier system

With all the publicity the Gulf Oil Spill is currently receiving, it’s easy to forget about another disaster from which the city of New Orleans is still recovering - the flood caused by Hurricane Katrina in 2005. That flood, of course, occurred because the levee along the city’s coastline couldn’t stand up to the assault of the storm-driven waves. Daniel Wren, a hydraulic engineer who works for the USDA Agriculture Research Service in Oxford, Mississippi, is now working on a system that might have kept that from happening. He has developed floating barriers that can dissipate up to 75 percent of a wave’s energy, before that wave reaches the levee.  Read More

Materials and components used in the LUMENHAUS are based on the basic requirements of envi...

Imagine waking up on a cold winter’s morning to light streaming in through your bedroom window and the smell of fresh coffee. The concrete floor is warm and your favorite music starts to play as you eat your breakfast. As you drive away the house automatically locks, the thermostat reduces and the insulation panels close as the house goes into hibernation until you return. Welcome to LUMENHAUS, the completely solar powered, open plan house that uses computer technology, flexible architectural design and energy efficiency to adapt to its owner’s changing needs as well as environmental conditions... and it recently won the 2010 Solar Decathlon Europe.  Read More

RavenWindow in cold and hot weather, from left to right

Windows that change their tint are not new, but this window by RavenBrick does so without any energy use required. The RavenWindow changes its transparency depending on the temperature, so basically if it's hot outside less heat passes through it and if it's cold outside then it becomes more transparent, allowing in more heat from the sun. The implications are obvious – savings on your energy bill as a result of reduced use of your heater or air conditioner. With "America's Greenest Building" commissioning the first commercial installation of the product, it's bound to have a bright future.  Read More

The Escape Rescue System can transport rescue personnel up the building and evacuate build...

There would be few scarier places to be in the event of a fire than in a high-rise building with no means of escape. Tragedies such as the World Trade Center disaster have highlighted the vulnerability of the building’s core and emergency stairwell as the only venue for evacuation. We've seen some last resort options that cater for those individuals brave enough to rappel or even parachute from the building, but that's still only part of the equation. When escape routes are compromised it not only prevents evacuation, but also prevents emergency personnel reaching the trouble spots. Escape Rescue Systems' solution is to use collapsible cabins which can be lowered over the side of the building to transport rescue personnel up... and evacuate building occupants down.  Read More

The Aqua tower in Chicago

James McHugh Construction has officially completed construction on Aqua, the Chicago high-rise that was named 2009 Skyscraper of the Year by international building database Emporis. Aqua beat out over 300 competitors worldwide for the honor, thanks in no small part to its no-two-alike undulating concrete balconies. It turns out, however, that there’s more to the 82-story tower than just good looks.  Read More

Michelle Pelletier with her self-healing concrete

Self-healing “smart building materials” have the potential to reduce structure repair costs, lower cement-production carbon emissions and even save lives. One barrier that has kept these materials from being commercialized, however, is their potentially labor-intensive and thus expensive production process. Recently, an engineering student from the University of Rhode Island (URI) announced that she has developed a self-healing concrete that would be inexpensive to produce.  Read More

Mitsubishi Electric installs elevators to carry 80, possibly the world's largest

If you've ever been annoyed by the impatiently waiting for an office building elevator, this might just be the perfect building for you. Each of the new elevators installed by Mitsubishi Electric in Umeda Hankyu Building’s new office area in Osaka, Japan measures 11.2 x 9.2 feet in area by 8.5 feet high (3.4m wide, 2.8m long and 2.6m high), thus allowing for a whopping 80 person capacity.  Read More

The roll-n-cage (RNC) is an anti-vibration device that is designed to sit between the buil...

With the devastation in Haiti still fresh in our everyone’s minds a team at the Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya (UPC) is working on a system to better protect buildings, infrastructure and sensitive equipment from seismic activity. The roll-n-cage (RNC) is an anti-vibration device that is positioned between the building and the ground so that when the ground moves, the supported building doesn’t.  Read More

The structure of sea shells has inspired scientists to create a new material with similar ...

Seashells have done an exemplary job of protecting their inhabitants for around a hundred million years, so perhaps it isn’t surprising that scientists and chemists have now replicated their unique structure in a manmade material. Taking inspiration from shells, researchers from the University of Manchester and the University of Leeds have successfully reinforced calcium carbonate, or chalk, with polystyrene particles such as those used in disposable drinking cups. Their achievement could lead to stronger building and bone replacement materials, or other practical applications.  Read More

The Vancouver Convention and Exhibition Center has a six acre 'living roof', the largest i...

When Vancouver won the competition to host the 2010 Olympic & Paralympic Winter Games thoughts immediately turned to construction, and one of the most awe-inspiring initiatives has to be the redesign of the Vancouver Convention and Exhibition Center (VCAEC). Currently hosting the international broadcasting and media hub for the Winter Olympics, this waterfront building is not only beautiful and functional but is environmentally sustainable, boasting a green electricity program, a seawater heating and cooling system and the largest "living roof" in Canada populated with 40,000 plants and grasses.  Read More

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