Highlights from the 2014 LA Auto Show

Building and Construction

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

'The In-situ Scour Evaluation Probe (ISEP) is the first technology that allows technicians...

Erosion through water flow (called scour) causes the majority of bridge collapses in the U.S and was responsible for the levee failures in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. It has been difficult to assess the erosive potential of a soil profile without extensive digging on site followed up by hours of off site testing, but researchers at North Carolina State University (NCSU) have developed a device that significantly improves the process by measuring the scour and erosion potential of soils without the need to excavate and remotely test samples. Having tested the sensor in the lab the team are ready to conduct their first field tests.  Read More

Looks like a job for BacillaFilla (Image: Shaire Productions via Flickr)

Earlier this year we took a look at the development of self-healing concrete that repairs its own cracks using a built-in healing agent. While this kind of technology holds promise for construction in the future, it’s not so useful for the vast amounts of existing concrete in need of replacement or repair. UK researchers have come up with a solution to this problem that uses bacteria to produce a special "glue" to knit together cracks in existing concrete structures.  Read More

The Tiger Stone laying a brick road

Laying down paving bricks is back-breaking, time-consuming work... or at least, it is if you do it the usual way. Henk van Kuijk, director of Dutch industrial company Vanku, evidently decided that squatting/kneeling and shoving the bricks into place on the ground was just a little too slow, so he invented the Tiger Stone paving machine. The road-wide device is fed loose bricks, and lays them out onto the road as it slowly moves along. A quick going-over with a tamper, and you’ve got an instant brick road.  Read More

The ingenious Anthony Emergency Housing System

The seeming increase in natural disasters such as tsunamis, earthquakes floods and wildfires around the world has continued to highlight mankind’s need for emergency housing. Gizmag has reported many clever designs for emergency housing over the last decade, but Peter Anthony’s collapsible, lightweight mobile platform is the most viable we've yet seen for airdropping and rapidly-deploying housing for large numbers of people. Each self-contained 8' x 8' x 8' living space is constructed of composite material, and hence weighs less than 200 pounds, folds flat and can be assembled with a single spanner by two people in less than 30 minutes.  Read More

'Protocell drivers' in a flask surrounded by carbon structures, in the Hylozoic Ground ins...

Architects have been looking at ways to improve city buildings with living walls and living roofs that add some much needed greenery and help remove carbon from the atmosphere. Now researchers are looking at using a different sort of “living “ material created from protocells – bubbles of oil in an aqueous fluid sensitive to light or different chemicals – to create a coral-like skin that could be used to clad city buildings, build carbon-negative architecture and even "grow" reefs to stabilize the city of Venice.  Read More

The Eco-Cool Remodel Tool allows you to take a virtual tour through a house for green impr...

King County in Washington has launched two new online initiatives to help you make ecologically-informed decisions with regards to your next home remodel: a virtual home tour with lots of tips and ideas for greening up your house, and Eco-Cribz, a video diary of local homeowners as they undertake the green transformation of their homes.  Read More

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