Interview With RIBA International Prize-Winning Architect

UTEC (Universidad de Ingeniería y Tecnología) in Lima, Peru, recently won the first ever RIBA International Prize for 2016. The Royal Institute of British Architects judged the project as “setting a new global standard for architectural achievement.” In an interview with Figueras Seating, Alejandro Shell Montero of Shell Arquitectos spoke about the design and how it reflected both the surrounding natural environment and the people who would occupy it. Here are some excerpts from that interview: The shape of the building reflects…

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Blocks – The ABCs of Green Building Materials

Blocks used for residential and commercial construction employ a wide variety of green building materials in their composition. The most popular and commonly used is the standard hollow concrete block, but there are many variations in shape, weight, and composition. Sand, cement, gravel, and water are the most commonly used elements in blocks, but there is a wide variety in the mix of materials used. This latest article in our series, the ABCs of Green Building Materials, explores the various…

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Reversible Concrete Allows for Easy Removal

Yes, you read the title correctly – reversible concrete! It seems like an oxymoron – concrete is known for its stability and strength, and its permanence. Well, not anymore! Last October at the Chicago Architecture Biennial, Self-Assembly Lab at MIT and Gramazio Kohler Research of ETH Zurich showed off a process that might finally one-up concrete, using only a 3-D printing extruder, rocks, string, and smart design. The short, unscientific version is that the rocks are bound together by the…

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Permeable concrete allows water to drain through

Green Materials Report: Permeable Concrete

This post is part of the Green Materials Report series. GBE is providing information on various building materials and what makes them green. Each post focuses on one material. We will be looking at the ingredients in the material, how it is used, what makes it green, and any green product certifications that it has earned. We hope to develop a database of information to help consumers make informed choices about what goes in their buildings. Enjoy the series! Permeable Concrete Permeable…

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New GBE Series Scheduled: Green Materials Report

This Friday reporter Dawn Killough will launch our new series, Green Materials Report. Her first subject: linoleum, a durable and sustainable product with an estimated lifespan of 40 years. Some of our upcoming green materials reports will include: Concrete Drywall Linoleum Bamboo flooring Wheatboard Wool carpet Recycled-content carpet Cork flooring Steel studs Mushrooms Beetle-kill pine Gabion rock walls GBE is providing information on various building materials and what makes them green. Each post focuses on one material. We will be looking at the ingredients in…

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Strength and Design in Concrete Forms

There is something amazingly raw and beautiful in cast concrete forms and buildings. These forms can become any shape imaginable and all that is required is the form to hold the concrete as it dries. Panels of remarkable sizes can be placed on site in construction zones, allowing buildings to rise in record breaking time spans. Concrete’s developments have continued throughout the years with improvements in its strength and constructability techniques. New developments include high-strength concrete that can be reinforced concrete…

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Scientists Develop Non-Eroding Surface Using Scorpion for Study

For those who have watched concrete or painted surfaces erode over the course of time from exposure to sand and weather, a new material may be ready for developmental testing – based on the desert scorpion, who has lived its entire life in the blowing sands of the desert and moves on from year to year, no worse for wear.

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Green Cement: Near Reality Or Just A Dream?

Cement is everywhere. The foundations of our buildings, the driveways that lead beyond suburban garage doors, the walls of our schools, and the mortar joints between every brick we lay contain a binding substance we call Portland cement. Cement is the binding agent used to hold together the tough aggregate (rocky gravel) in the concrete we can use for just about everything in modern construction. It seems harmless enough. We don’t have to cut down trees to build with it.…

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Pervious Pavement – Rescuing a Reservoir Near You

For some reason, watersheds seem to be popular places to put down pavement. Housing developments, grocery stores, and shopping malls require places to drive and places to park, which means those places end up getting paved. Where water used to infiltrate into the soil, trickle down through natural water-filtering aquifers and rejoin the reservoirs that serve our thirsty civilization, now rain falls on oily pavement. Paved areas prevent water from sinking into the soil beneath them and create deluges of polluted runoff that strip away topsoil, contaminate waterways, and eventually disrupt ecosystems for miles around all paved human developments.

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Are Extruded Houses Green?

For several years, Professor Behrokh Khoshnevis at the University of Southern California has been working on systems for rapidly creating buildings with system that is essentially a very large 3-dimensional printer. Called Contour Crafting, the equipment is able to rapidly build up walls. Already, test runs have been able to produce six-foot high concrete walls. One goal of the team developing this technology is to be able to build a house in a day, a goal that they hope to…

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Weighing the Value of Concrete Housing

A South African company called Moladi is promoting their system for quickly building homes. Using their system, the exterior walls for a single-family dwelling can be built in a matter of just a day or two, and it can be done using unskilled labor. But, while their goals are admirable, it’s a question whether or not this is a really green method of building. The system uses lightweight formwork panels, much like those used for poured concrete walls. Once erected,…

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Design Competition for Greener Concrete

The Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture (ACSA) and the Portland Cement Association (PCA) have announced their “Concrete Thinking for a Sustainable World” student design competition. This is the third year for the competition. The concrete industry is looking for opportunities to boost the perception of concrete as a green material, since the mining, processing and transportation of concrete is responsible for 8% of all carbon dioxide produced by human activity.

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