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Building and Construction

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

'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

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