It can be hard to keep up the pace with technology and architecture news. But fear not, dear readers—AN has you covered with a new-in-tech mini-roundup on the biohomes, metaverse house tours, and AI tastemaking to inform your practice and add to your “fun fact” cocktail hour conversation Rolodex:
University of Maine creates the first 3D home from bio-based materials
Maine is in a housing crisis, as are many other states. 3D-printed houses, which are easier and quicker to build than traditional homes on site, could be an answer to the current housing crisis. Researchers at the University of Maine Advanced Structures and Composites Center celebrated the completion of BioHome3D last year, which was the first 3D-printed home using bio-based materials.
The 600-square-foot prototype’s 3D-printed roof is made of wood fibers and bio-resins, while the insulation is 100 percent wood material. As well, the walls and floors are 3D printed. It was constructed from locally-sourced materials to reduce dependence on a global supply chain that’s weathered many shocks and crises since 2020.
BioHome3D was printed in four modules offsite; on-site assembly required only a half-day’s work.
“Many technologies are being developed to 3D print homes, but unlike BioHome3D, most are printed using concrete. Only the concrete walls can be printed on top of a cast concrete foundation. Traditional wood framing or wood trusses are used to complete the roof,” ASCC Executive Director Dr. Habib Dagher said in a press release. “Unlike the existing technologies, the entire BioHome3D was printed, including the floors, walls and roof. The biomaterials used are 100% recyclable, so our great-grandchildren can fully recycle BioHome3D.”
Future versions of the home could be customized to meet an owner’s space and energy needs. Right now, ASCC is monitoring the home’s performance through the bone-chilling Maine winter. These data will be used to inform BioHome3D’s future iterations.
Buildworld uses sentiment analysis tool to make list of world’s ugliest buildings
Using sentiment analysis tool HuggingFace, a team at building materials and products retailer Buildworld compiled a list of the world’s ugliest buildings. The team began with a list of buildings across the U.K. and U.S. often assumed to be “ugly” and ran the building names through HuggingFace, a machine learning platform trained to detect positive and negative tones about a topic or idea. The platform analyzes what is being said about the buildings online using tweets. In this instance, the negative sentiment about the building is what determines the most ugly accolade.
The machine has spoken and determined that the Scottish Parliament Building is the most annoying. It was built by Enric Miralles, an architect who designed it postmodernly. 42.07 percent of all analyzed tweets had been critical of its design. The J. Edgar Hoover Building, a.k.a. Stateside. The FBI Headquarters was rated the worst by 37.84% of the tweets. Second was the Brutalist Boston City Hall. Chicago’s Thomson Center and the Watergate Complex also made it to the United States’ top ten list.
You can find more information about the experiment, and the complete list of ugly buildings here.
A new discovery about the durability of Roman concrete
A research team from MIT, Harvard University, and laboratories in Italy and Switzerland has unearthed some secrets about a tried-and-true building material and method that’s just about as old as time: concrete. The journal published their findings. Science Advances earlier this month, provide evidence into the hearty material’s durability and self-healing nature.
It had been previously assumed that ancient concrete’s strength came from a pozzolanic material such as volcanic ash, but the discovery of “lime clasts,” tiny white minerals found in samples, is likely where the material gets its durability. Lime clasts were previously thought to be flecks from poor mixing techniques, but researchers now question that assumption.
Further examination of the lime cement clasts revealed they were made from calcium carbonate. A spectroscopic examination of the flecks led the team of researchers to deduce they were mixed into concrete at very hot temperatures and it is this process and step that solidifies concrete’s durability.
This discovery means that ancient buildings and statues can be restored or made whole again. This will extend the life span of structures and reduce the need for cement production, which can have adverse environmental impacts. This discovery opens up new possibilities for construction, such as 3D-printed buildings.
A national homebuilder will be giving tours of houses in the metaverse
KB Home invites potential clients to take a virtual tour of its homes by creating an avatar. Decentraland allows buyers to see houses in Spanish, farmhouse, craftsman and contemporary styles. The virtual host can answer your questions about the homes and the construction process as well as customize options.
“KB Home has a long-standing history of groundbreaking innovation. Today, we’re creating opportunities with an eye toward the future, so next-gen homebuyers can experience a new KB Home community virtually,” KB Home Chairman, President and CEO Jeffrey Mezger said in a news release. “We know consumers are increasingly immersing themselves and spending more time in virtual spaces. KB Home’s metaverse community is all about discovery and creation and provides a captivating setting for homebuyers to explore what truly sets us apart – innovative design, personalization and partnership.”
The Detroit-based company partnered up with The Metaverse Group in order to design and construct its Decentraland KBHome nirvana.
UN transforms protecting the ozone layers into an online game
This week the UN Environment Programme’s (UNEP) Ozone Secretariat launched its latest version of a simulator designed to help teens understand how to protect our precious, life-sustaining environments and ecosystems via global and local policy interventions.
The Apollo’s Edition of the Reset Earth Impact Simulator game allows students pick from four possible policy directions that impact the ozone layer. Apollo, a spunky, blue-haired avatar that can be seen above, and her robot partner, explain the scenarios to students while they teach them about the Montreal Protocol, which regulates Ozone depleting chemicals (ODS).
“By giving young people innovative learning tools, we hope to inspire them to become the future scientists and policy-makers championing environmental protection,” said Meg Seki, Executive Secretary of the Ozone Secretariat.
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