Courtesy Dwell Development Net-zero residence with cork façade.

Wine Be Damned, Cork Is For Building

From flooring to façades, cork has entered the product arena as an environmentally friendly, viable construction option. By Blaine Brownell A decade ago, cork was in crisis. Though the material had been used in wine bottles for centuries, the Portuguese cork industry—which...
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This Week in Tech: MIT and BMW Collaborate on Liquid Printed Inflatables

Plus, 3D printing multiple materials at once, our latest podcast episode on Katerra, and more design-tech news from this week. By Katharine Keane A team from MIT’s Self-Assembly Lab and BMW’s design department have developed liquid-printed inflatable materials that...
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Photo by Joseph Xu courtesy the University of Michigan Xiaozhou Che, EECS Graduate Research Assistant, holds an organic tandem photovoltaic cell

This Week in Tech: 3D-Printed Self-Folding Materials

Plus, the world’s largest wind turbine begins testing, pollution-filled geodesic domes in London, and more design-tech news from this week. By Katharine Keane Thermorph from Morphing Matter Lab on Vimeo. Using an “inexpensive” 3D printer, a team of Carnegie...
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Transforming Walls into Smart Surfaces

Researchers say using this low-cost method could transform any room into an interactive space. By Ayda Ayoubi A team of researchers from Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) in Pittsburgh and Los Angeles–based Disney Research have developed a method that can transform walls into...
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Courtesy photka via AdobeStock

This Week in Tech: Scientists Accidentally Engineer Plastic-Eating Enzyme

Plus, the deadline for ARCHITECT’s 12th annual R+D Awards is extended to April 27, and more design-tech news from this week. By Selin Ashaboglu Scientists at the University of Portsmouth in England have inadvertently engineered an enzyme capable of digesting polyethylene...
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A Backwards Approach to Material Innovation

Blaine Brownell outlines discoveries from his experimental University of Minnesota design studio. By Blaine Brownell “With typical buildings, details are decided upon in the final stages,” writes Japanese architect Kengo Kuma, Hon. FAIA, in Matter in the Floating World (Princeton...
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Photo by Glenn Halvorson for Walker Art Center, Minneapolis. Frank Gehry with his lead-scaled fish sculpture at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis.

Lead: Why do architects and designers still specify dangerous substances?

And what can be done when public health safety requires their removal? Blaine Brownell explores. By Blaine Brownell When I was an undergraduate student in architecture, one of my classmates built a model out of lead. He obsessed over the material, which was heavy yet soft and...
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Adobe Stock Image

Prices for Wood, Other Construction Materials far Outpace Other Commodities, BLS Says

Government’s latest PPI report shows annual price hikes of as much as 27% By Craig Webb Wholesale prices for construction products–particularly wood–have risen several times faster than for wholesale goods overall, today’s Producer Price Index report...
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Courtesy Wood Skin Fold panels by Wood Skin (available via Robin Reigi)

Alternative Wood Products and Processing Methods to Watch

Blaine Brownell highlights several readily available, experimental, and speculative products and innovations. By Blaine Brownell The AEC industry recently has a newfound appreciation for wood and its applications in tall and mass timber construction. But the material’s...
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Courtesy Jnzl's Photos via Flickr Commercial Commons Hempcrete

Dazed and … Constructed? How Hemp Could Alter Material Selections in Architecture

Blaine Brownell explores uses of the plant-based alternative in concrete, textiles, varnish, and other building products. By Blaine Brownell As more states approve the medicinal and recreational use of marijuana, the building industry is taking note. A strain of the Cannabis...
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