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AI SpaceFactory/Plomp
Using concrete and giant printers, home building may one day be much faster and cheaper.

In a forested patch of Garrison, N.Y., on the Hudson River, a giant robotic arm looms over a platform. Later this month, the platform will start to rotate while the arm pumps out a gooey concoction of basalt and biopolymers. Round it will go, receiving layer upon layer, until the arm, like a demonic pastry chef, has extruded an entire egg-shaped house.

This 24-foot-high, 500-square-foot, two-story construction will have a sleeping pod, a bathroom with a shower, a study area and other amenities you might expect from a cool short-term rental. In fact, it will be a cool short-term rental, as well as a demonstration of the future of home building.

The project, called TERA, is one of the latest experiments in 3D-printed houses. Innovators in this arena are seeking to reduce the expense, environmental impact and hazards of construction methods that have remained fundamentally unchanged for more than a thousand years. They are adapting a now-commonplace manufacturing technique in which a computer-controlled dispenser spews a malleable material that hardens into the shape of a pipe fitting, a chair or an internal organ — or, one day, a whole inhabitable building, with its myriad components and systems robotically extruded.

Architects and engineers are edging closer to this goal, by printing portions of houses and assembling or finishing them conventionally. (In TERA’s case the exterior shell will be printed on site and a separate birch plywood interior inserted.) They are testing different structural, surface and insulation materials and struggling to clear one of the highest bars in this technological obstacle course: the 3D-printed roof. (It’s a problem of weight. For TERA, the 3D-printed roof is an easily supported half-inch-thick dome.)

And many of these pioneers have their heads in the clouds.

TERA, which was designed by AI SpaceFactory, a Manhattan architectural studio, evolved from a prototype Martian habitat called MARSHA that won a NASA competition in May. (You can see details at the exhibition “Moving to Mars,” through Feb. 23 at the Design Museum in London.) MARSHA was destroyed as a final test of its stability — NASA wanted to see how much force it would take to crush it. AI SpaceFactory is recycling the crushed material in TERA to demonstrate its commitment to zero waste.

Mars’s atmosphere, about 100 times thinner than Earth’s, determined the habitat’s tubby shape: As pressure within the structure is equalized, the building envelope bulges. Because the cost of shipping construction materials more than 30 million miles is prohibitive, the design makes use of volcanic basalt rock, which exists on Mars, below a layer of dust. The vision is of an autonomous robot that collects, processes and prints what it finds.

Designing for extreme conditions in space helps solve terrestrial problems, noted David Malott, AI SpaceFactory’s co-founder and chief executive. The strategy of building homes on site with hyperlocal materials could have tremendous environmental benefits for our own planet. “It’s a high-tech way of going back to the Stone Age,” he said.

Last year, in a widely publicized collaboration with the San Francisco-based housing nonprofit New Story, ICON introduced a 350-square-foot house in East Austin that has a conventional flat roof with standard framing lumber. The structure was printed with a machine called Vulcan I using a proprietary concrete-like material called Lavacrete. Construction took a total of 47 hours over several days and cost $10,000 for the printed elements.

In May, ICON and New Story again made news with their plans for a village of about 50 printed houses for a poor community in an undisclosed location in semirural Latin America. (An ICON representative recently declined to identify the site out of concern for the privacy of the families who will be chosen to occupy the houses, which are still awaiting construction.)

Now ICON is working with the nonprofit Mobile Loaves & Fishes on Phase 2 of Community First! Village, a 51-acre development that accommodates former members of Austin’s chronically homeless population in RVs, tiny houses and, soon, several 3D-printed cottages. In September, ICON produced the first printed building for the complex, a 500-square-foot welcome center, in a total of 27 hours over several days. The job was done with a Vulcan II, ICON’s next-generatio
There was no formal agenda on Feb. 12, 2018, when Bruce King and William Kelley met for lunch at the Lotus Cafe in San Rafael, Calif. But building regulation is a favorite topic of King’s, a structural engineer devoted to reducing carbon emissions related to buildings. So it was no surprise to Kelley, Marin County’s deputy director for building and safety, that King suggested it would “be nice” to craft a low-carbon concrete building code “to rein in the profligate overuse” of carbon-intensive cement in concrete.

Kelley liked the idea of regulating concrete’s embodied carbon (EC)—the greenhouse gases (GHGs) emitted during production. But funding was needed to support the writing of a code for low-EC concrete.

Two weeks later, King happened to be at a meeting of an ad hoc group trying to rebuild sustainably after California’s devastating 2017 wine-country fires. There, he heard an announcement that the Bay Area Air Quality Management District would soon offer grants for novel methods of addressing GHGs. He alerted Kelley. Soon, Marin County applied for a BAAQMD grant, which it received on Oct. 4, 2018.

The funds, a maximum of $206,456, set the wheels in motion for developing the model Bay Area Low-Carbon Concrete Code. If approved by Marin County’s board of supervisors on Nov. 19, the code, unprecedented in the U.S. because it would limit EC in private—not just public—projects, would be the first of its kind in the nation.

Kelley likes the Bay Area model code because it is simple to use for customers, plan checkers and enforcers. The document, only four pages long, has two sets of compliance pathways for plain and reinforced concrete: 1) limit cement in either the mix or the project; or 2) limit the global warming potential (GWP) either of a concrete mix—based on an approved environmental product declaration (EPD)—or a project, taking into account all the mix designs.

If adopted, the code would apply only to unincorporated Marin County, population 60,000. That doesn’t bother King. “We hope it will be the code heard around the world,” says the founder of the 20-year-old Ecological Building Network (EBNet).

Kelley agrees, saying, “If we can do this here, the code could serve as a template for other places.” Several other Bay Area counties are likely to follow suit if Marin County adopts it, he adds.

King is setting even wider sights on the regulation of EC—the GHG emissions associated with raw material supply, manufacturing, transport, construction, maintenance, decommissioning and recycling of a material, a building or infrastructure. He wants the Bay Area code to serve as a model for other nations, especially India and China. He also wants EC codes for other high-EC products, such as most refrigerants.

EC, formerly called embodied energy, is not exactly a household term in construction. The main focus in green building codes and certification programs—such as LEED and the Living Building Challenge—has been on reducing the operational carbon (OC) emitted by buildings.

EC plus OC make up the carbon footprint of a building. Initial or up-front EC, which accounts for most of a material’s or a product’s carbon, refers to GHG emissions from the cradle to the site gate.

“Many construction materials can be made to very similar performance standards with 50% or more carbon savings,” because manufacturing process, mix composition, recycled content and electricity or energy source have a dramatic effect on carbon emitted during manufacture, according to the University of Washington’s Carbon Leadership Forum. CLF is a nonprofit coalition of 40 construction industry sponsors, founded in 2009 by its director, Kate Simonen, also a professor at the College of the Built Environments.

“Carbon-aware specification and procurement policies, backed by a contractual requirement to deliver verified EPDs for materials delivered to sites, can drive change,” asserts CLF.

Reducing initial EC is no easy task. It has been fraught with problems—from a lack of product and material data to data too complex to evaluate. “It’s an incredibly daunting and new challenge to address in a design process,” says Victoria Burrows, director of Advancing Net Zero for the World Green Building Council.

A net-zero EC building is one that has minimal up-front carbon, with all remaining
The first images of Kanye West's prototype housing for the homeless have been revealed, as the musician faces an order to tear down the structures following complaints over construction noise.

One photo, captured by tabloid news site TMZ, shows a series of incomplete structures at West's sprawling home in Calabasas Hills, California. Another set of aerial shots, published by Metro, captures structures of different sizes and shapes being built.

Comprising domes covered in a wooden lattice, the constructions are believed to be prototypes of the prefabricated, affordable Yeezy Home units, which mark West's first foray into architecture. TMZ added that a source close to West told the publication that the structures are temporary.

West ordered to take prototypes down

TMZ captured the housing as West has encountered some road blocks in the construction of the mock-ups on the site of the property he shares with reality star Kim Kardashian.

Attention was brought to the site when several of his neighbours complained to the Los Angeles County Department of Works about construction taking place late at night.

West has also claimed that the structures were temporary, however, inspectors reportedly found them built atop concrete foundations, which suggested otherwise.

This week, the musician was asked to apply for a building permit to allow him to legally construct the prototypes, or take down the domes, within 45 days.

Yeezy Homes take cues from Star Wars

The hip-hop artist and producer revealed that the units are intended as low-income housing or accommodation for homeless people in a cover interview with Forbes.

The domed structure takes cues from the houses on the fictional desert planet of Tatooine, the home of Luke and Anakin Skywalker in the Star Wars series.

The homes are also expected to be partially sunken, like the residences on the movie set, with a lightwell carved into the top to provide plenty of illumination. In the new photos, each of the structures features a large opening in the top.

Musician wants to use architecture to "make the world better"

The musician has been vocal about his passion for architecture for many years, telling students on a visit to Harvard Graduate School of Design in 2013 that "the world can be saved through design".

In 2018, he announced his plans to add the architecture arm, Yeezy Home, to his Yeezy label via Twitter in a bid to "make the world better".

Shortly afterwards, fashion designer Jalil Peraza revealed renders of prefabricated concrete affordable-housing for Yeezy Home on Instagram but the posts have since been deleted.

While some may be skeptical of Kanye's expertise in the architecture field, "hip-hop architect" Michael Ford spoke to Dezeen about the importance of black musicians like West and Pharrell Williams, who heavily promote their involvement in architecture, in improving diversity in the profession.
Nearly a decade ago, there were the 3D-printed scale models that Broadway set designers were using to visualize their stage productions. Then there were the first 3D-printed full-scale scenography components, with the likes of Daniel Auber’s production of Fra Diavolo at the Teatro dell’Opera di Roma in 2017. And now, 3D-printed concrete has made it to the dance stage, with a set of bespoke columns for the Origen Festival in Switzerland.

Origen’s winter showcases take place inside a renovated medieval castle, but its summer programme is on display in a theatre made along with nature: the walls of its open-air theatre are made of the Alps that envelop Riom, a bucolic village located an hour away from St. Moritz. There, nine intricately twisted columns, each nearly three metres high, emerge from the platform.

Titled Concrete Choreography, the pieces were devised, designed and manufactured by the students of ETH Zurich’s Master of Advanced Studies in Digital Fabrication and Architecture, using robotic printing. The process allowed them to produce these elements without the need for formwork – they were printed hollow, with filling used strategically. Each one features a one-of-a-kind design and can be produced in full height in less than three hours.

‘Computationally designed material ornament and surface texture exemplify the versatility and significant aesthetic potential of 3D concrete printing when used in large-scale structures,’ said Benjamin Dillenburger, the ETH professor who oversaw the installation. ‘Framing and informing the dance performers of the summer season in Riom, the project demonstrates how technological advancements can bring efficient and novel expressions to concrete architecture.’
Weldon Brewster
Fleet of concrete trucks mobilized for near-record placement

The 18.5-hour construction of the 13,478-cu-yd mat for the $1-billion Grand mixed-use development in Los Angeles ranks as the second largest continuous casting of a foundation in Los Angeles, after the Wilshire Grand’s, which, at 19.5 hours, set a Guinness World Record in 2014.

At 9:30 p.m. on Friday, June 28, at a rate of approximately 1,000 cu yds per hour, 140 workers from the Conco Cos. began the job, which required 1,348 truck trips to six batch plants, for the mat, which contains 13,478 cu yd of concrete. The mat will support a 39-story tower.

“Due to precise and complicated logistics, the mat’s coordination started four months prior to the actual pour,” says Barry Widen, vice president of design and construction for developer Related Cos.

The mat is 39,303 sq ft with a thickness that varies from 6 ft to 12 ft. The concrete truck fleet traveled eight times between the site and six batch plants. With seven of eight concrete truck pumps staged on streets, Related coordinated with Los Angeles City Council District 14, and the city’s Dept. of Transportation and Bureau of Engineering’s Major Transit and Transportation Construction Traffic Management Committee (TCTMC) to minimize the impact to traffic, which required complete closures of Olive Street and 2nd Street and directional closures on Grand Avenue and 1st Street.

In February, Related and partner CORE USA broke ground on the project, designed by Gehry Partners and located across the street from Gehry’s Disney Concert Hall. The project is expected to create 10,000 new jobs and $1.3 billion in one-time total economic output for Los Angeles County. The Grand will include 176,000 sq feet of retail and a hotel in 20-story second tower. Related expects the second mat will be cast this month.

AECOM is the Grand’s construction manager and DCI Engineers is the project’s structural engineer.

Editor's Note: This story has been updated to clarify that there were 1,348 truck trips required for this concrete placement. The project team has not specified the number of trucks utilized.
Matthew Millman
Given a truly spectacular oceanfront site on Hawaii’s Big Island—set along an ancient footpath, atop a hardened lava flow, with views of sky, sun, and water for days—you would think that the design team could just lay back and chill. How could you screw it up? A hut would nearly suffice.

Turns out it took nearly three years to perfect a Kona Coast vacation home on just such a plot for a couple based in Portland, Oregon. The clients’ wait was rewarded with spectacular results. Architecture and interior are ultramodern and yet rely heavily on traditional materials and touchstones. Old and new ebb and flow as easily as the tides right outside the home's copious sliding-glass doors.

Principal Greg Warner of Walker Warner Architects and Philpotts Interiors partner Marion Philpotts-Miller approached the project in a thoughtful and methodical manner. “We call it the 'Village,'” Warner says of the unusual arrangement, a grouping of four separate structures linked by a lush courtyard and a series of walkways and patios. Indeed, traditional Hawaiian villages, typically organized in loose clusters, inspired both the site plan and the daring architectural style, an angular composition of canted steel columns, steep-pitched roofs, and rhomboidal window and door openings. “The structures represent a contemporary interpretation of early hale shelters,” Warner says. “They’re like modernist lean-tos.”

The clients wanted to use the compound to entertain friends and family. But they also desired privacy. So, Warner located the volumes housing the master suite and the main living areas on the site’s ocean side. Set back deeper in the property are pods containing the two guest suites and communal relaxation areas. Bedrooms open onto concrete-walled private courts for additional seclusion. The parcel of land isn’t huge—around 1 ½ acres—and the buildable area is much smaller; in total, interiors encompass approximately 4,800 square feet. But the arrangement (not to mention the sweeping views) makes the three-bedroom residence feel expansive.

The rugged rock walls of historic Mokuaikaua Church, located in nearby Kailua, inspired the primary building materials: lava rock and other stones mortared with lime putty. Warner and his former colleague, senior project manager David Shutt, also chose durable Western red cedar as the dominant wood—both for cladding and the roof shingles—since it resists heat, moisture, and insects. Inside, stained and lightly polished concrete flooring keeps things cool during the day.

As for the decor, Philpotts-Miller and her team were inspired by what she describes as the “adventurous nature” of the clients. Accordingly, “the use of color is very playful and dynamic,” she says. In the rec room, for instance, custom surfboards are mounted on the wall like artworks.

Otherwise, the scheme is no-frills, simple, and airy, with a midcentury vibe that Philpotts-Miller explains was inspired by the work of Hawaiian modernist Vladimir Ossipoff. And the rooms aren’t stuffed to the gills with furnishings. “Because the architecture is so thoughtfully put together and there’s so much natural texture, we didn’t need to load up the interiors,” Philpotts-Miller continues. She is particularly proud of how the living room riffs on an abstract oil on canvas by Lee Kelly. “We really let that piece define the palette,” she says. Note the neutral-toned Christian Liaigre oak sofa and wenge lounge chairs, plus a custom wool-cotton rug in a funky orange hue. “All the furniture is in harmony and set up to celebrate the view,” she summarizes.

The master bedroom is likewise grounded with earthy, timber-toned accents—whitewashed wood wall paneling, a walnut bench—and also lifted via a sky-blue rug and throw pillows. Philpotts-Miller and her team designed the project’s biggest pieces, including the master suite’s clean-lined bed with raffia and white-oak headboard, as well as the living room’s cocktail table in butterfly-jointed Australian mahogany.

By design, there’s very little barrier between indoors and out. Sapele-framed sliders glide open to the elements, and operable windows swivel to coax in the breeze and encourage cross ventilation. “The living room unfurls to become porchlike,” Warner adds, noting the continuity of floor and ceiling materials between interiors and adjacent alfresco sp
Andy Macpherson
A thoughtful response to its unique setting and climate in the Gold Coast’s Sanctuary Cove, this house, by Justin Humphrey Architect, embodies principles of subtropical modern architecture to create a textured home for living and entertaining.

Frank Sinatra and Whitney Houston headlined the Ultimate Event at Sanctuary Cove in 1988. The five-day festival heralded the grand opening of the Gold Coast canal estate, which had been ratified under its own legislative act, the Sanctuary Cove Resort Act 1985 . Over time, the secure, gated community has, for better or worse, resulted in an enclave of architectural expression. Set amongst all of this, Cove House by Justin Humphrey Architect is a visual delight, poised to make a valuable contribution to its surrounds for many years to come.

Director Justin Humphrey worked closely with the client to deliver the distinctive visual identity of Cove House. The client’s previous home had subscribed to the estate’s typical aesthetic and, in engaging Justin, she sought to make a defined departure from that vernacular. The result is a house that speaks to a much broader context, beyond the confines of its gated community. In addition to providing a beautiful home environment for living and entertaining, Cove House embodies a thoughtful response to its unique setting and climate.

Perhaps one of the most challenging aspects of the site was the need to contend with three outlooking interfaces – one to the canal, another facing an easement for a public path, and the street front – positioning the house very much at centrestage. The covenant required that the facade facing the pathway be built on the boundary and therefore fire rated. Rather than see this as a constraint, Justin used this wall as an opportunity to express the materiality of the house with board-formed concrete, articulated by powdercoated metallic louvres that cleverly assist in naturally ventilating the interior.

The home’s street front employs the external cladding materials to communicate its internal functions. The board-formed concrete continues around to express the public areas within the home, while the delicate timber battens proffer contrast and convey the private spaces, such as the bedrooms and bathrooms. Separating these two domains is a central axis that draws visitors inward from the entrance to the canal. The floating roof, with finely tapered edges, ties all of these elements together and gives lightness to the form. Many of these formal elements are propositions unique to tropical and subtropical modern architecture.

A further nod to tropical modernism exists in the sequence of internal gardens and courtyards. The large entry courtyard garden at once fulfils alternate definitions for the homograph “entrance” and performs several functions in the planning of the house, providing for entry to two bedrooms, designed for guests and adult children, and framing a view through the living areas to the water beyond. Smaller, open-roofed courtyard gardens, enclosed by sliding glass doors, work to visually demarcate circulation paths. They are seam-lessly integrated into the plan, adding light, texture and acoustic sensations reminiscent of those qualities found in Geoffrey Bawa’s domestic architecture.

The gardens are, collectively, a response to the client’s desire to work with honest materials, which extends to the refined materials palette chosen for the interior finishes. Most pronounced of those finishes are the timber battens used for screening and as a continuous element that ties the internal spaces together. When applied to sliding doors, they assist in providing cross-ventilation and passive cooling to the house. Each batten’s concave profile creates a seductive tactility through shadow and depth. The smart detailing evident in the screens represents so much about the project – most significantly, a collaboration between architect, fabricator and builder as a bespoke solution.

The internal finishes are also used to zone rooms within the open, public areas of the home. Individual spaces are sculpted using height and volume changes, the arrangement of garden courtyards and changes in ceiling finishes. This approach to creating rooms within the larger volumes encourages flexible inhabitation, from a quiet night in, to a large sprawling party. The capacity to entertain a small crowd was stipulated in the brief and, undoubtedly, Cove House will delight many party guests now and into the future.

Sanctuary Cove sits within the booming region of the northern Gold Coast, an area that is a growing hub for family entertainment. Cove House has the potential to play an influe
The world’s largest and perhaps most destructive mining industry is rarely discussed. Approximately 85 percent of all material mined from the earth is a simple and widely available resource: sand. Because it is so cheap and readily available, it is mined by everyone from guy with a shovel, to multi-million dollar machine operations. The majority of sand is used to make concrete, but the displacement of sand leads to the catastrophic destruction of coastal, sea bed and river ecosystems and topography.

The United Nations Environment Program estimates that 40 billion tons of sand are mined every year, but since the market is corrupt, hidden and decentralized there have been no comprehensive studies to date. In order to get a rough number, the United Nation’s used global cement production and sales figures to approximate how much sand is collected. For example, every ton of cement requires six to seven tons of sand and gravel in order to make concrete.

The environmental impact

Sand mining, especially when done without regulation or oversight, can damage rivers, cause beach erosion and destroy coastal ecosystems. At least 24 Indonesian islands disappeared off the map just to build Singapore.

Since sand dredging occurs primarily for construction purposes, miners target river and coastal ecosystems where the sand is ideal. River sand is particularly perfect for concrete because it is coarse and does not contain salt that would otherwise corrode metal and other building materials. In addition to disturbing riverbed and river bank ecosystems, altering the flow and capacity of rivers can cause drought or disastrous flooding– though rarely recognized as a contributing factor.

In Kerala, India, flooding was found to be partially caused by sand dredging that took 40 times more sand out of the river bed than the river could naturally replace.

Dredging sea grass habitat can also cause sediment to drift for miles causing both coastal erosion and smothering ecosystems like coral reefs. Erosion, land subsidence and the introduction of heavy machinery and vehicles into delicate habitats also threatens the integrity of nearby infrastructure such as roads and bridges.

One study found that every ton of sand taken from a river in California cost taxpayers $3 in infrastructure damage.

Cities’ demand for sand
Development and urbanization are expanding rapidly in every corner of the world to accommodate an exponentially growing population and our insatiable rates of consumption and expansion. According to the United Nations, the number of people living in cities is more than four times what it was in the 1950s. Over 50 percent of the world’s population now lives in urban areas with nearly three billion additional people expected to migrate to cities in the next 30 years.

In addition to new buildings, sand is also used for land expansion projects. In China, it is a common practice to dump sand on top of coral reefs to speed the process of building land. Dubai is also famous for its man-made islands, which required millions of tons of sand.

Singapore has added over 50 square miles of land in the past four decades and more skyscrapers in the last 10 years than all of New York City— a feat that required over 500 million tons of sand. The creation of Singapore was so rapid that Indonesia, Malaysia and Vietnam all banned the export of sand, but miners simply moved to Lake Poyang on the Yangtze River. The WWF calls this Lake the largest sand mine in the world, but it is tragically also Asia’s largest destination for migratory birds. Sand dredging activities have more than doubled the river’s capacity in certain areas, draining parts of the lake and reducing key fisheries.

“It’s the same story as over-fishing and over-foresting,” says Pascal Peduzzi, from the United Nations Environment Program. “It’s another way to look at unsustainable development.”

The scale of the problem is enormous and the consequences of moving massive amounts of life-and land-sustaining material from one place to another is glaring but the world remains functionally oblivious, blinded by the desire for new buildings and up-and-coming neighborhoods.

Alex Welsh for The New York Times
A Lloyd Wright house, linked to the Black Dahlia murder, is now a photogenic backdrop for fund-raisers, music videos and cannabis gatherings.

In Los Angeles, where even houses get their proverbial close-ups as TV or movie locations, a property’s appeal can crest on its IMDb credits alone.

But only the Sowden House in the Los Feliz neighborhood can claim film cameos, a pedigreed architect and a history as the possible site of a grisly unsolved murder. Never mind the fact that the exterior entryway resembles a menacing maw, earning it the apt nickname “the Jaws house.”

Designed by 1926 by Lloyd Wright (the son of Frank Lloyd Wright), the Mayan Revival-style mansion most recently appeared in the TNT limited TV series “I Am the Night,” a fictionalized account of the Black Dahlia murder of an aspiring Hollywood actress, Elizabeth Short, in 1947.

Some believe that Ms. Short was murdered and mutilated in the basement of the Sowden House when it was owned by George Hodel, a prominent gynecologist who lived there from 1945 to 1950. Mr. Hodel was known for hosting wild parties in its basement.

Seven decades and five owners later, Sowden House is once again a swinging social center. Last year Dan Goldfarb, an entrepreneur and former hedge fund analyst from New York, bought the 5,600-square-foot, four-bedroom home for nearly $4.7 million with the idea to make it a cultural hub for cannabis. (Mr. Goldfarb is the founder of Canna-Pet, a company in Seattle that sells hemp-derived CBD products for cats, dogs and other pets.)

But Mr. Goldfarb, who has been called a “marijuana millionaire,” doesn’t want anyone to get the wrong idea.

“There is this misconception that every event here is about cannabis,” he said on a sunny afternoon inside the sprawling living room. (In all fairness, however, it was hard to miss a sizable bong on the kitchen counter.) “This is not like ‘Cheech & Chong’ or a descent into ‘Reefer Madness.’”

Indeed, Mr. Goldfarb and his wife, Jenny Landers, have held fund-raisers for politicians (including one for Representative Katie Hill, Democrat of California) and nonprofits (Kindred Spirits Care Farm, which teaches students about farming). The house has also been used for a music video (for the XX song “I Dare You”), photo shoot (In Style magazine), art exhibition (by the Gagosian Gallery) and dance performance (for HomeLA, an arts group).

“You really don’t need to add much to the house because it has so much character,” Ms. Landers said.

The couple have no plans to redecorate (the furnishings were included in the sale), and they arrived at their new home in a minivan with just cats — eight of them — and suitcases. An 11-foot sofa fronts an ottoman fit for an ogre. A giant antique Japanese door serves as a coffee table.

“Everything is scaled up, like in “Alice in Wonderland,’” Mr. Goldfarb said. “A normal couch would look rinky-dink in here.”

With its undulating textile block walls, soaring ceilings and pavilion courtyard, the home certainly craves a crowd. Empty, it’s as incongruous as a woman in a ball gown at a bus stop.

The original owners, John Sowden and his wife, Ruth, envisioned it as a bohemian playhouse for aspiring actors and Hollywood bons vivants. The once grassy courtyard served as seating during performances. Now, a wading pool and an ornate fountain shimmer in the sunlight.
Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy
Meticulously restored and relocated by the husband-and-wife team behind Polymath Park in Pennsylvania, Mäntylä House opens to tours and overnight stays near Fallingwater.

Tom and Heather Papinchak had their work cut out for them with Frank Lloyd Wright’s Lindholm House, or the Mäntylä House. Above painted concrete blocks and tidewater cypress was a red roof of interlocking, Ludowici tiles—some 7,000 in all—and after sitting among the pines of Northern Minnesota since 1952, they’d become dilapidated, all coated in sap.

Yet that did not deter the Papinchaks, who took on the task of painstakingly removing, cataloging, and restoring by hand each and every tile—not to mention, every nut, bolt, and screw—in an effort to authentically preserve the Mäntylä House for its 990-mile trek to its new home in Pennsylvania, 20 miles from Wright’s famed Fallingwater.

This wasn’t their first rodeo at architectural preservation. In 2003, the couple purchased the Balter and Blum Houses designed by Wright apprentice Peter Berndston, along with the 130-acre property known as Polymath Park, with the intention of protecting the land from development. Then, in 2007, the couple relocated a midwestern Wright project, the Duncan House, to the grounds and opened up Polymath Park to lodging and tours.

So in 2016, after owners Julene and Peter McKinney (a Lindholm descendant) failed to find a buyer who would preserve the integrity of the Mäntylä House after years of trying, the Papinchaks’ nonprofit, Usonian Preservation, was granted a tremendous responsibility by the Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy.

"The hardest part was the first hit of the hammer," says Tom. "There were a lot of emotions, as it was a hard choice for everyone to move the house. We tried everything to keep it at the original location."

At its new site in Polymath Park, Mäntylä House is in good company. Aside from the Duncan House and the Berndtson-designed residences, there are hiking trails and even a restaurant, where Heather cooks in addition to managing the day-to-day operations. "We do it for the purpose for preservation, but also for people to truly enjoy the space and appreciate the history in front of us and his legacy," says Tom. "It’s important for generations to understand that Wright was so ahead of his time. It makes sense in today’s standard of living, which is greener, smaller, and utilizes space efficiently."
decaARCHITECTURE and George Messaritakis
On the southern coast of Crete, Greek architectural firm decaARCHITECTURE has turned a commission for a modern residence into an opportunity for land preservation. Named the Ring House for its rounded shape, the house was created to follow the existing topography and looks like an extension of its hilltop location. The site had been scarred by environmentally insensitive infrastructural development but has now recovered its original morphology and has been replanted with native flora.

Located in the seaside village of Agia Galini, the Ring House is surrounded with beautiful sea views, yet suffers hot summers. To create a cooling microclimate, the architects built part of the structure into the earth and added several protected shaded areas, as well as an inner garden planted with a variety of citrus trees and edible plants. The resulting effect is one that the architects liken to an “oasis within an intensely beautiful but physically demanding environment.”

“At a broader scale, the house is a landscape preservation effort,” explain the architects. “In the past, the topography had been severely scarred by the random and informal carving of roads. The excavation material extracted during the house’s construction, was used to recover the original morphology of the land. Furthermore, a thorough survey of the native flora was done in order to understand the predominant biotopes in the different slopes in the plot. During the spring, prior to construction, seeds were collected on site and cultivated in a green house to grow more seeds. These were then sowed over the road scars for the regeneration of the flora.”

Concrete beams that follow the existing topography of the hill and frame the inner garden define the Ring House. The entrance sequence begins from the parking pad to a long, curved walkway that wraps around the inner garden and provides access to the bedrooms on one side of the home and the open-plan living areas on the other side. The house is powered with rooftop solar panels.

Bridget Cogley
A warm material palette is used to transport customers from the urban grit of New York City into this cosy bakery designed by local firm GRT Architects.

Bourke Street Bakery, a well-known Australian bakery & cafe in Sydney, tasked GRT Architects to design its first location in America. The studio's Rustam Mehta, Tal Schori and Stephanie Tager collaborated with Bourke Bakery's co-founder Paul Allam on the design.

The project is defined by a strong use of colour, including concrete floors that are painted salmon pink, dark wood built-in furniture and cork panelling.

"It was important to all of us in some connectable way that it felt like a southern climate, and warm with natural materials, colour and colour temperature," Mehta told to Dezeen.

A focal point of the bakery is a custom L-shaped service counter made from cherry wood, with bar stool seating set at one end. The same wood is also used for a banquette around the perimeter of the main dining area.

"A warm palette of materials wraps every surface, and so the minute you walk in, you really feel like you've left the street behind," Schori added.

"It's like the light changes within the space," he said. "It gives you that impression that you've been transported."

A feature of the design is the prominent role of baking. The kitchen is visible from almost every nook in the cafe – a design choice to benefit both employees and visitors.

"We went out of our way to make the kitchen as open as possible," Mehta said.

At the counter, customers are separated from bakers by a pane of glass. The same slab of charcoal-coloured natural stone extends either side, with one used for rolling out dough, and the other for customers to enjoy the finished pastry.

Christopher Frederick Jones
The outback tourism economy has been a talisman to drought-ravaged Queensland. Cox Architecture’s Waltzing Matilda Centre is a tribute to the community of Winton, embedded in the rugged landscape that inspired the ballad to which it is dedicated.

We approached the Waltzing Matilda Centre by Cox Architecture at Winton as fly-in fly-out grey nomads. A hire car trip across central Queensland took us through six hundred kilometres of parched, cracked and de-stocked plains that hadn’t seen useful rain for eight years. Amid the rural heartbreak, the state’s outback tourism economy has been growing strongly, a record $602 million in the year ending 2017.1 A mix of rivalry and cooperation between the towns of the region has produced an impressive architectural trail.

Driving west from Emerald, we followed the route of the momentous 1891 shearers’ strikes. Barcaldine’s role at the start of the labour movement is told at the Tree of Knowledge Memorial and the Globe Hotel renovation (M3architecture and Brian Hooper Architect, 2009 and 2015) and at the Australian Workers’ Heritage Centre, the highlight of which is the Daryl Jackson-designed big top from the travelling Australian Bicentennial Exhibition (1987–88), which has found a permanent home here. Each of these tells the story of unionism and the birth of the Labor Party. Longreach, in contrast, celebrates pioneering pastoralists and entrepreneurial aviators at the Australian Stockman’s Hall of Fame and Outback Heritage Centre (Feiko Bouman, 1988) and Qantas Founders Museum (Noel Robinson Architects, stage 1 2002, stage 2 ongoing). A final essential stop on the road into Winton is the remarkable Australian Age of Dinosaurs, an architectural precursor and companion to the Waltzing Matilda Centre also designed by the Cox Architecture team, led by then director Casey Vallance (stage 1 2012, stage 2 ongoing).

ICD/ITKE University of Stuttgart
Blaine Brownell reviews recent applications of carbon fiber technology and assesses its utility in environmentally conscious construction.

To market the design for his Dymaxion prototype, Buckminster Fuller famously asked: “How much does your house weigh?” Composed of a lightweight sheet metal aluminum skin held in tension by a single, central mast, the Dymaxion weighed only about 1.5 tons—about 10 percent the weight of an average house.

Fuller's emphasis on weight is even more critical today, given the ever-increasing environmental impact of shipping raw and processed materials around the planet. The automotive and aerospace industries have made significant advances in the strategy known as "lightweighting" by employing new and lighter materials and reducing the weight of components. Such an approach enabled U.S. airlines to significantly increase fuel efficiency by 125 percent between 1978 and 2017.

Carbon fiber is increasingly employed in the fabrication of many ultralight structures, from Formula One car bodies to bicycle components. Made from carbon filaments that are typically woven together into a cloth, carbon fiber is often coated with resin or thermoplastics to create composites with a very high strength-to-weight ratio. The result is a material about five times stronger and five times lighter than steel—and twice as stiff—that can readily tolerate heat and corrosion, making it ideal for extreme environments.

Despite the relatively high cost of carbon fiber, architects and engineers have started using it to construct buildings and infrastructural projects. For example, researchers at the University of Stuttgart’s Institute for Computational Design and Construction (ICD) and the Institute for Building Structures and Structural Design (ITKE) utilized carbon fiber as a prominent construction material in their latest work: the 2019 BUGA Fiber Pavilion at Bundesgartenschau Heilbronn in Germany, a dome made of glass- and carbon-fiber ribs clad in a transparent ETFE membrane. The team programmed a robot to deliver more than 492,000 feet of fibrous filaments in a spatial arrangement whereby fiber type and density could be varied based on structural loads. Designed to mimic biological systems, the carbon fibers surround the transparent glass fibers to form bundled structure members resembling flexed muscle tissues. According to the team, a single fibrous component can support “around 25 tons or the weight of more than 15 cars.” The dome, which has a free span of around 75 feet and shelters a floor area of 4,305 square feet, is composed of 60 of these components, each of which weighs only 16.8 pounds per square meter.

Although the ICD/ITKE work assumes the form of bespoke demonstrations, another research team has been deploying carbon fiber broadly in public infrastructure. The University of Maine’s Advanced Structures and Composites Center has developed a composite arch bridge system made of carbon fiber–reinforced concrete. Designed for single-span bridges up to 65 feet, the system consists of a series of carbon fiber reinforced polymer (CFRP) tubes that are filled with concrete on-site and then topped with steel-reinforced concrete decking. Similar to inflatable rafts, the CFRP tubes are transported to the site in a compact, folded state—hence the nickname “Bridge-in-a-Backpack.” According to the center’s website, “The arches are easily transportable, rapidly deployable, and do not require the heavy equipment or large crews needed to handle the weight of traditional construction materials.” In addition to their lightness, the CFRP tubes serve as the concrete formwork, thus eliminating the need for additional materials. They also function as noncorrosive concrete reinforcing, a clear advantage over rust-prone steel. Based on these many benefits, the system has been used to build 23 bridges to date.

These examples demonstrate how lightness—among other material attributes—gives carbon fiber an advantage in construction. But how does this lightness perform when a project also calls for enhanced sustainability?

In a December 2019 Industry Week article, Ray Boeman, director of the Scale-Up Research Facility at the Institute for Advanced Composites Manufacturing Innovation in Knoxville, Tenn., explains, “Carbon fiber has the best potential for lightweighting, but takes a lot of energy.” According to a study conducted by the U.S. Department of Energy and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, a typical CFRP composite requires 800 megajoules per kilogram (MJ/kg) of p
Anti Hamar
Mass timber construction is on the rise, with advocates saying it could revolutionize the building industry and be part of a climate change solution. But some are questioning whether the logging and manufacturing required to produce the new material outweigh any benefits.

The eight-story Carbon 12 building in Portland, Oregon is the tallest commercial structure in the United States to be built from something called mass timber.

If the many fervent boosters of this new construction material are right, however, it is only one of the first mass timber buildings among many, the beginning of a construction revolution. “The design community in Portland is enthralled with the material,” said Emily Dawson, an architect at Kaiser + Path, the locally-based firm that designed Carbon 12.

The move to mass timber is even farther along in Europe. That’s because mass timber – large structural panels, posts, and beams glued under pressure or nailed together in layers, with the wood’s grain stacked perpendicular for extra strength – is not only prized as an innovative building material, superior to concrete and steel in many ways, it is also hoped it will come into its own as a significant part of a climate change solution.

Among architects, manufacturers, and environmentalists, many want nothing less than to turn the coming decades of global commercial construction from a giant source of carbon emissions into a giant carbon sink by replacing concrete and steel construction with mass timber. That, they say, would avoid the CO2 generated in the production of those building materials and sequester massive amounts of carbon by tying up the wood in buildings for decades or even longer, perhaps in perpetuity.

There are new mass timber buildings in London, Atlanta, and Minneapolis, and an 80-story high-rise is proposed for Chicago.

“Say the typical steel and concrete building has an emissions profile of 2,000 metric tons of CO2,” said Andrew Ruff, of Connecticut-based Gray Organschi Architecture, a leading proponent of the laminated wood revolution. “With mass timber you can easily invert so you are sequestering 2,000 tons of CO2. Instead of adding to climate change you are mitigating climate change. That’s the goal.”

And it is taking off. Mass timber has a two-decade track record in Europe. The 18-story Mjösa Tower just opened last month in Norway. An 18-story mass timber building was recently built in Vancouver as well, and an 80-story high-rise is proposed for Chicago. There are new commercial mass timber buildings in London, Atlanta, and Minneapolis. Some 21 timber buildings over 50 meters (164 feet) tall will be completed in Europe by the end of the year, according to one report.

But there are big questions being asked about just how sustainable the new building material is –especially about how forests that produce mass timber are managed, and how much CO2 would be emitted in the logging, manufacture, and transport of the wood products used in the construction. So far, critics say, there aren’t good answers to these questions.
Douglas Mark Black via Archterra Architects
While it may not exactly be the Little House on the Prairie, Osmington-based Archterra Architects certainly made the most of a beautiful plot of grassland in Western Australia. The architects have unveiled the gorgeous 2,000-square-foot Paddock House that uses solar power, natural materials and several passive features to blend the home into its natural landscape while reducing the residents’ water and energy use.

Located on an expansive field of rye grass in Margaret River, Western Australia, the home was strategically designed to have a strong connection to its natural surroundings. Oriented to the north to take advantage of sunlight, the main rectangular volume features a series of all-glass facades and openings that provide stunning views as well as access to outdoor spaces to take in the fresh air.

In addition to making the most out of its idyllic location, the design was also focused on using natural materials and passive design features to reduce the home’s ecological footprint. Starting with the materials, the exterior is clad in a skin of pre-sealed raw cement, which not only provides the home with a strong insulative envelope, but one that is also low maintenance.

To contrast the bright exterior, the external areas that wrap around the home were lined in a warm toned plywood, which was also used throughout the interior living spaces as a lighter tone. In fact, plywood and concrete feature prominently throughout the home, with sleek concrete blocks used to create walls and plywood used for the ceilings and additional furnishings. The light concrete blended with the warm wood gives the home a contemporary-yet-cozy, cabin-like atmosphere.

Along with an abundance of natural materials, the home was equipped with several passive measures, such as its northern orientation, which brings in optimal natural light and creates a system of efficient cross ventilation during the hot summer months. Additionally cooling the interior is the overhanging eaves that jut out over the sides of the house, providing shading to the interior and exterior areas.

Ivar Kvaal
Snøhetta has completed Under, the "world's largest underwater restaurant", which plunges from a craggy shoreline in the remote village of Båly, Norway.

Designed by Snøhetta to resemble a sunken periscope, the 495-square-metre restaurant is fronted by a huge panoramic window that gives visitors a "unique view" of marine life.

The building on Norway's southern coast, which can seat up to 40 people and will also be used as a marine research centre, is Europe's first underwater restaurant.

"For most of us, this is a totally new world experience. It's not an aquarium, it's the wildlife of the North Sea. That makes it much more interesting. It takes you directly into the wildness," Rune Grasdal, lead architect of Under, told Dezeen.

"If the weather is bad, it's very rough. It's a great experience, and to sit here and be safe, allowing the nature so close into you. It's a very romantic and nice experience."

Under was designed to be as simple as possible. It takes the form of a monolithic "concrete tube" that is 34 metres in length.

The walls are slightly curved and half-a-metre thick, providing optimal resistance against the forces of waves and water pressure.

"The idea was to make a tube that would bring people from above sea level down under the sea," Grasdal added.

"That transition is easy to understand, but it's also the most effective way to do it. It also feels secure, but you don't feel trapped."

The concrete has been left with an exposed, rugged texture to encourage algae and molluscs to cling on. Over time this will create an artificial mussel reef that helps purify the water, and in turn naturally attract more marine life.

The Architects' Journal
The AJ asked leaders in the sustainability field what immediate steps architects could take towards achieving a zero-carbon built environment in the near future

1) The default position should always be to retrofit existing buildings

Jonathan Tuckey, director, Jonathan Tuckey Design

The best way to reduce the carbon footprint of buildings is not to build them at all.

As an industry we must minimise demolition wherever possible and maximise reuse of existing structures. Radically transforming a building creates inspiring and joyful spaces which are full of both history and future promise.

As a profession, we must take it for granted that such retrofit schemes should be well insulated, well lit, airtight and sustainably heated.

This approach could be encouraged with across-the-board incentives. Remodelling an existing building is currently accompanied by 20 per cent VAT while it’s zero for new-build projects.

This should be reversed and the government could further subsidise the upgrading of a building’s thermal performance. It could introduce a carbon tax on materials or a carbon credit on recycled buildings, which might encourage people to recycle as much as possible. When you take a building apart in Switzerland you must separate out materials so they can be recycled. This is a very time-consuming process but the decision to demolish is taken with this in mind.

With some relatively straightforward changes to legislation we can prioritise and celebrate the reuse of existing buildings and make the process more profitable. Local communities would prefer to see their much-loved streets preserved; while making buildings more energy-efficient is better for the environment while reducing costs as fuel prices soar.

2) Reduce the use of concrete by three quarters immediately

Piers Taylor, founder, Invisible Studio

Concrete is the least understood commonly used building material. We know, of course, that concrete is the most widely used material on the planet. What is less known is that it is a relatively low impact material in CO2 terms.

If concrete is replaced by almost any other material, it would have a bigger carbon footprint. For example, using steel as a substitute for concrete is less efficient in CO2 terms, while most brick manufacturing processes produce more CO2 than cement production, including low-tech production methods still predominant in the developing world.

Although there are wider environmental implications, the main reason concrete has a big carbon footprint is because of the huge quantities used. But also, optimising concrete designed for construction is an inexact science. It’s almost impossible to determine the optimal concrete for many applications, meaning too much cement is used, and limestone-based cement requires huge amounts of energy to produce.

While ultra-strong concrete is being developed, allowing a more efficient use of material, ultimately we solve little through direct material substitution in any case.

If the construction industry is to make the necessary radical reduction in CO2 emissions, we need to change the way we design. This means designing leaner buildings that are planned in dense medium-rise communities where we can use timber for the bulk of superstructure. While it is difficult to use materials other than concrete for foundations, at the heart of our problem is the construction industry’s lazy use of concrete – using too much concrete with too little thought on structures that are badly designed, such as buildings that lack the resilience to adapt or are designed with little thought of how they might be adapted in the future and are pulled down after less than 40 years.

At a stroke, we could reduce the amount of concrete we use by up to 75 per cent if we were more strategic and only used it for ess
The construction industry is responsible for a large percentage of carbon emissions. From sourcing to design to material manufacturing to building construction, the carbon dioxide output from projects around the world has a significant environmental impact. This has led to sustainable construction innovations that not only reduce the production of carbon dioxide, but also improve a building’s longevity, reduce energy bills and increase the use of natural light. Here is a list of some innovative construction materials and ideas that could revolutionize the industry and help us build a more sustainable future.

Transparent wood

Swedish researchers have turned wood into a material that is 85 percent transparent by compressing strips of wood veneer and replacing lignin with polymer. This product is light but just as strong as natural wood. It can be an eco-friendly alternative to glass and plastic.

When used to build homes, transparent wood will reduce the need for artificial lighting, plus it is biodegradable.

Transparent wood

Swedish researchers have turned wood into a material that is 85 percent transparent by compressing strips of wood veneer and replacing lignin with polymer. This product is light but just as strong as natural wood. It can be an eco-friendly alternative to glass and plastic.

When used to build homes, transparent wood will reduce the need for artificial lighting, plus it is biodegradable.


The Institute for Advanced Architecture of Catalonia in Barcelona is leading the way in reducing the use of air conditioning by using hydrogel to create walls that can cool themselves. The architects are placing hydrogel bubbles in between ceramic panels that can be installed into existing walls.

Inspired by the human body’s ability to cool itself, the hydrogel can absorb water when the air around it gets hot and starts to evaporate. This can reduce the temperature by 5 degrees Celsius, so you don’t have to keep the A/C cranking non-stop during the summer.

Super-hydrophobic cement

Recently, scientists have found a way to alter cement’s microstructure in a way that makes it absorb and reflect light. This finding has led to the creation of super-hydrophobic cement, or luminescent cement, which could replace traditional street lights and the energy they consume.
Ameen Deen
the ‘planter box house,’ designed by malaysian office FORMZERO, celebrates a sustainable, self-sufficient lifestyle. while the project employs multiple passive design strategies, the structure, comprised of clustered concrete planter boxes, houses the growth of over 40 types of edible plants. these boxes introduce a lush, urban landscape while offering the house a system of stormwater retention and an irrigation reservoir. the house was designed for a retired couple with a passion for growing food. as the plants which fill the planter box house appear less defined, the appearance of the house oscillates between garden, farm, and building — offering a new model for the contemporary tropical house.

the lush plant life throughout the cascading concrete planter boxes of the FORMZERO project creates a strong visual contrast among the adjacent buildings. this cluster extends outward to the sidewalk as the first planter box was constructed to house a pre-existing jasmine tree and introduce an element of urban furniture. this generates a connection between the formal language of the house with its context. the interior spaces are expressive of the owner’s attitude toward hospitality and tropical, sustainable, urban community living and farming. the open ground floor, with only glass partitions, is filled with light and cross ventilation. double-height spaces, interior windows, and full height glass walls provide an openness while allowing the integrated greenery to penetrate the interior.

taking influence from the vernacular tropical house, split bamboo sourced from the indigenous ‘temuan’ people is used as formwork for the fabrication of the concrete boxes. while this bamboo texture introduces an organic formal quality, it offers a sustainable, low maintenance finish which will age well over time and exposure to the elements.
 while the planter box house is a formal expression of the owner’s lifestyle, it provides a platform for continuous learning and experimentation. this project serves as a valuable opportunity and experience not only for the owner to learn to farm in a tropical urban setting, but also for the surrounding community.