NASA scientists aimed to create more stable spaceships, but inadvertently found a way to make buildings safer during earthquakes. In an example of the hummingbird effect, an interstellar innovation presents an opportunity to change the way buildings are “earthquake proofed”. This has particular promise for cities on North America’s west coast as they prepare for the “really big one“. More broadly, the innovation underlines the potential to apply existing technology to new fields and the value of cross-sector cooperation.
Across most of the western world, more people are living alone in cities than ever before. This shift provides independence for many, but also increases the risk of isolation. As Failed Architecture writes, when this shift is coupled with new developments that are devoid of shared space, the potential for social isolation, spatial segregation, and the overall atomization of society is exacerbated. Have we learned from past building mistakes or in the age of individualism, are we amplifying them?
As land becomes increasingly valuable, more cities are looking upwards to accommodate growth. Tall buildings create their own challenges however. But one key challenge – shadows and darkness – may be resolved shortly. Several approaches to reflect dispersed light into spaces that would otherwise be shrouded in darkness, including moving panels and curved windows, could contribute to more livable spaces in the skyscraper city.
In the digital age, are there better ways for colleges and universities to provide high-quality learning experiences? A restructured college business model that delivers education in a range of ways could enable colleges to lower costs while increasing equality in higher education. An underused college building could become a new public library offering credentialed on-line university courses, among other flexible uses. What other benefits would cities get from a redesigned college system?
Failed Architecture posed this provocative question as guest editors for 2ha magazine’s A State of A Nation issue. As FA’s editors admit, “this a problematic investigation since suburbia is too big to fail…and impossible to define”, but it does provide insight into the qualities and weaknesses that make suburbia both appealing and despised. Reflecting on this dominant development 20th century can help us understand where our cities have been, and where they are going.
As we’ve detailed previously, shipping container skyscrapers have been envisioned as a solution for affordable housing and rapid construction. However, the idea has also sparked discussions over their feasibility. In a provocative article, Mark Hogan, principal at San Francisco-based firm OpenScope, highlights a number of technical and habitation problems with mass shipping container construction. In doing so, he challenges the popular architectural notion that shipping container proposals are a silver bullet for many housing and construction issues.
It is easy to tear a single sheet of paper – and nearly impossible to rip a whole stack of them. Building on this simple observation, researchers at Georgia Tech, the University of Illinois, and the University of Tokyo created structurally engineered plastic tubes inspired by Origami arts. The physical endurance and structural flexibility of this lightweight material when folded and stacked, could have important implications on civil engineering, disaster infrastructure and urban resilience. In fact, Pritzker-winning architect Shigeru Ban is already employing some of these techniques.
In the pop-up era, shipping containers are being adapted for a diversity of purposes. But skyscrapers? An Indian architecture firm created a conceptual design that envisions this low-cost, prefab material reaching upwards. The project raises some important construction and social questions, but as Co.Design points out, they may not be as far-fetched as you’d think.
Historically unprecedented urban growth has led to tremendous technological advancements, but has severely diminished cities’ long-term sustainability. Inspired by similarities between urban systems and the natural environment, architects, urban planners and designers are starting to apply biomimicry to create more ecologically balanced cities. How can a city function more like an ecosystem? Find out more here.
After more than a half century of separation, public health issues have returned to the urbanism discussion. But what is a healthy city? In an illuminating interview with Metropolis Magazine, renowned architect and designer Jan Gehl offers his insight from more than 50 years of studying people and the spaces they love. He has found that sustainability and health are intrinsically related and that the cities that best address these issues are those that look at buildings and life simultaneously. They are also designed for people, rather than cars.