The Mystery of Roman Concrete

Photo Credit: Colin Knowles

Modern concrete on seawalls will eventually erode and need repair after only a few decades, yet the Roman pier at Portus Consanus in Orbetello, Italy has withstood the sea for millennia.  The secret to this concrete’s longevity is a mineral growth after the concrete has cured. When Roman engineers mixed volcanic ash, lime, and seawater to make mortar, the combination also created a pozzolanic reaction. This reaction, named after the city Pozzuoli in the Bay of Naples, caused the formation of crystals in the spaces of the concrete mixture making the concrete incredibly strong.

Source: Archinect

Compact, Portable Architecture Builds Itself in Minutes

Photo Credit: Weburbanist

Ten Fold Engineers, based in the United Kingdom, have developed small portable structures that can unfold and expand, building themselves within minutes. The design of the structures may seem simple, but the mechanics of unfolding are extremely sophisticated. The buildings are off grid, but they have the potential to connect to plumbing and electricity. The company is currently working on larger two-story models to expand the potential of mechanically built buildings.

Source: Weburbanist

Beautiful, Obsolete Technology

Giant concrete acoustic mirrors speckle the British coastline. These massive concrete dishes were used as sound mirrors to warn the United Kingdom of enemy airplanes approaching from across the English Channel and the North Sea. The concrete dish acted almost as a radar, by responding to the sound of the aircraft and focusing the waves to a single point, then, a microphone would catch the sounds. The structures were also able to determine the direction of the attacking plane. After airplanes became faster in the 1930s, the sounds dishes were no longer usable.

Source: ArchDaily

Famous Architects without an Architecture Degree

Photo Credit: Archdaily

Frank Lloyd Wright, Louis Sullivan, Le Corbusier, Mies van der Rohe, Buckminster Fuller, Luis Barragán, Carlo Scarpa, Tadao Ando, and Peter Zumthor all reached critical acclaim as architects without possessing a design degree. Many of these men attended school for a short time and then moved on to apprenticeships. This article explains how each architect encountered obstacles in their education, yet, ultimately became successful.

Source: Archdaily

Germany, Denmark, and Belgium Boost Offshore Wind Power Production

Photo Credit: Pixabay

In the next decade Germany, Denmark, and Belgium will increase their offshore wind power from 13.8 gigawatts to more than 60 gigawatts. Critics believe this will be a positive economic and environmental move. The three countries will pledge to work with over 25 private companies to accomplish the task. An agreement between 10 northern European countries was recently signed in London to cut the cost of installing the offshore wind turbines. With these recent changes, wind energy is more cost effective.

Source: inhabitat

Growing Zero-waste Structures

Photo Credit: dezeen

Aleksi Vesaluoma, a student from Brunel University, has discovered a way to grow a living structure out of a mushroom called mycelium. The mycelium grows on an organic material and binds the material together like glue. Velsulumoa mixed mycelium and cardboard to create a tubular form that could grow and strengthen over time. The structure is biodegradable and the fungus that grows on the structure is edible.

Source: dezeen

Hungry Hungry Hamsters

Photo Credit: kikalastudio

The design agency Leavingstone was recognized for the video ad series “The Hungry Hungry Hamster.” The short episodes were made for the canned food company Supremo. The company was ready for less traditional ads, and they hired the design group to revamp their image. The episodes feature real hamsters and a meticulous, detailed miniature town, with a flower shop, bookstore, movie theater, and statues of famous fictional hamsters. The videos were recognized with the Golden Hammer Creative Case Award and the Access Key Award, as well as several awards at the Kyiv International Advertising Festival.

Source: designboom

Curious, Persuasive Maps

Photo Credit: Persuasive Maps: PJ Mode Collection

JP Mode has donated a collection of maps that explore the capacity of persuasion to Cornell University Library’s Rare Manuscript Collections. The maps are accessible from Cornell via Persuasive Cartography: The PJ Model Collection. The collection is also freely accessible in Artstor’s Shared Shelf Commons. The maps comprising this collection—many are from significant political eras like World War II—are unique because they all contain examples of visual persuasion or propaganda.

Source: Artstor

Millennials with Families Seek Affordable Cities

Photo Credit: Suriya Wattanalee

Jennifer Griffin hypothesizes that as Millennials begin to start families, the affordable housing crisis will have a heavy impact. Traditionally sought after cities such as New York, Seattle, Portland, Austin, and Los Angeles are no longer financially viable for the Millennials who are starting families. Griffin posits that instead of looking for affordable homes in larger cities, families will move to smaller less urbanized cities, using Tulsa, Oklahoma as an example to describe the reasons for and benefits of moving to a less urbanized locale.

Source: Planetizen

The Design of Transport Maps

Photo Credit: vinnivinnivinni

Transport Maps in major cities often represent a simplified diagram of train routes in order to enhance readability. These maps distort the actual geometries of the cities’ geography, compressing the area the trains cover, and simplifying the curves of the paths to improve the aesthetics and comprehensibility. Although the map is geographically inaccurate it seeks to more accurately match the readers perspective of the city’s geography. In the map of Berlin, the center of the city is enlarged for clarity, and the more distant routes are shortened.

Source: The Guardian 

La Sein Musical in Paris

The La Sein Musical is a new music venue in France. Design by Shigeru Ban and Jean de Gastines, the music hall is located along the riverbank of Ile Seguin. The spherical auditorium and sail-like structure made from photovoltaic panels responds to the curvature of the island. The industrial aspects of the architecture allude to the island’s industrial heritage. The program includes an auditorium, multipurpose concert hall, small classical music venue, recording studios, and retail space.

Source: Designboom

Wright Home Serves as a Resource for Architecture Students

Photo Credit:, CC0 1.0 Universal (CC0 1.0)

To celebrate what would have been Frank Lloyd Wright’s 150th birthday, Zach Rawling donated his Phoenix home that was designed by Wright, to the Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture. The home—originally designed for Wright’s son—was saved by Rawling from demolition in 2012. Rawling originally wanted to make the home a museum, but now the house will become a resource for hands-on restoration and renovation for the architecture students at the Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture.

Source: Archinect