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Building and Construction

Younghwa Lee's door provides shelter in the event of an earthquake

What are you supposed to do when an earthquake hits? If you answered “Go stand in a doorway,” you get a gold star... although "Get under a table" would also be correct. Doorways are structurally stronger than most other parts of a building, and are often the last thing left standing when a structure has been destroyed by an earthquake. A narrow doorway offers little, however, in the way of protection from falling debris. That’s why an MA Design student from England’s Kingston has University invented a special kind of door.  Read More

The 320 square-foot EDGE house

If small is beautiful, then the 320 square-foot EDGE house from Wisconsin’s Revelations Architects is absolutely gorgeous. EDGE stands for Experimental Dwelling for a Greener Environment, and true to that acronym, the award-winning little modular home includes Earth-friendly features such as rainwater collection, geothermal heating and cooling, air-to-air heat recovery, passive solar windows, and insulated exterior shutter doors that minimize nighttime heat loss. Making the most of every square inch of interior space, the house has multi-functional transformable furniture, plus two overhead bedrooms. It's also made for easy construction and relocation, to the point that the prototype has been assembled, taken apart and moved three times in six months.  Read More

THK's linear motion systems will absorb most of the shock of an earthquake

This technology might not be fully appreciated by readers located in earthquake-free locales, but if you've ever felt the ground move beneath your feet you'll be pleased with this technology. At Tokyo Big Sight last week Japanese company THK was demonstrating how their linear motion systems could dampen the shock of an earthquake. One of their systems, when placed underneath an object that you'd like to protect, will absorb most of the shock of an earthquake.  Read More

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

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