The devastating impact of natural disasters on power grids, water supplies, and basic hygiene spurred principal Oki Sato to rethink a relief-effort essential: the portable toilet. Unlike standard mobile loos, with their clunky and cumbersome structures, the elemental is, well, good to go.
Tokyo Salon by Moriyuki Ochiai Architects Evokes Braids and Twists
Straightened, curled, puffed out. Hair can be fashioned into amazing shapes. Inspired by that pliancy, transformed a 1,200-square-foot former clothing store into , a Tokyo salon. Moriyuki Ochiai first turned his eyes upward toward the ceiling. There, instead of taking a little off the top, he added quite a bit: Swaths of polished aluminum were suspended throughout, heavily concentrated over the cutting area. A total of 1,000 linear feet of the metal was formed into swoops and coils that evoke braids and twists.
Interface Takes Design Notes From the Hardworking Honeybee
The honeycomb is a masterpiece of natural engineering. Without the benefit of the human brain or design thinking, bees create functional spaces that are practical, sustainable, and beautiful. Designers are starting to replicate nature’s innovations through biomimicry, recognizing that organic systems can solve manmade problems, as well.
A team of MIT researchers recently discovered that applying firefly enzymes to kale with gentle pressure causes the plant to glow in the dark. The plant only gives off one-thousandth of the light humans need to read by and the glow only lasts three-and-a-half hours, but there’s vast potential, says MIT professor and lead study author Michael Strano. With further development, glow-in-the-dark trees and plants could take pressure off energy infrastructure by providing free, earth-friendly lighting at night.
Bentley Reinvents Production Process for New Continental GT
Jeepers, creepers... where did you get those LED headlights? In the case of the , director of design Stefan Sielaff channeled cut-crystal glasses into the third generation of the grand tourer. But more significant is its aluminum exterior, which is nearly 200 pounds lighter than its previous incarnation. That’s because the panels are superformed, a technique involving heating the metal to nearly 1,000 degrees. “We literally had to invent a new production process to accomplish this,” Sielaff explains. “The lesson is that it’s not only the creative act of designing something new but also fighting to bring it into production.”
Small-Space Dwellers Get Their Dream Appliance
Thanks to a partnership between tankless water heater company Heatworks and Brooklyn-based industrial engineering firm Frog Design, a nifty appliance is poised to corner the market on the countertop dishwasher. Roughly the size of a microwave, the Tetra uses only half a gallon of water to do a 10-minute wash. A companion app allows the user to adjust the water pressure, cycles, and start time, but the best part is the bill: $299, roughly half the price of a normal dishwasher.
After an incendiary marketing campaign and heated tiffs with urban planners, Elon Musk’s plans for the Boring Company seem to have shifted. The Hyperloop's tunnels, which will shuttle automobiles beneath the traffic-jammed streets of Los Angeles on magnetized tracks, will now include an urban loop system. It seems vaguely like a conventional subway, but rather than having large stations where multiple lines converge, it will have thousands of small stations the size of a single parking space that will blend seamlessly into the urban fabric, Musk tweeted.
More Efficient Air Conditioning Via the Sky
Air conditioning and refrigeration consume 17% of global electricity and are responsible for 10% of global greenhouse gas emissions—numbers that will multiply tenfold by 2050—but one California-based company may have found a way to keep things cool while reducing greenhouse-gas emissions. SkyCool Systems has developed a passive, zero-water-loss cooling system that harnesses a previously overlooked natural resource: the sky. By coating roof-mounted panels with an advanced material the team developed that radiates a small percent of infrared light back into outer space through the sky, the team was able to cool the panels to approximately five degrees Celsius below ambient air temperature.
What Will the Jobs of the Future Be?
As humanity plunges further into the 21st century, the question of what kind of new occupations people will be able to pursue sometimes gets lost in all the wild speculation about future products. A group of artists from AKQA and Misk Global Forum decided to try their hand at imaging the employment possibilities in the year 2030, based on several panels at the World Economic Forum.
After announcing an initiative to build a human colony on Mars by 2117, the United Arab Emirates started the Mars Science City initiative—a testing site for Martian architecture—by hiring Bjarke Ingels Group to lead design experimentation. In order to solve the daily problems of life on Mars (including an arid atmosphere, nonexistent pressure, a gravity far lesser than half of Earth’s, and an immense amount of radiation), founder Bjarke Ingels sought inspiration from desert architecture, like the Mesa Verde cliff dwellings and the native architecture of Tunisia. But besides exploring what Martian architecture might look like, Mars Science City hopes their research on growing food and generating clean energy on a foreign planet will help improve life here on Earth, too.
Violent Attacks Trigger a Surge in Protective Landscaping
With the tragic frequency of mass shootings and terrorist attacks, landscape architecture offers an important line of defense for vulnerable sites. Current designs include clusters of trees that allow pedestrians through but act as a barrier for cars, walkways that control crowd flow for easy surveillance, and windows covered with bullet-blocking hardeners. Despite the innovations, it remains difficult to protect against future threats—architects can only build based on past attacks, and attackers become increasingly devious—but firms are increasingly using computer simulations and studies of crowd dynamics to observe the movement of bodies under different variables.
A Water Tank Becomes an Unlikely Performance Venue
After discovering an unused industrial water tank, Bruce Odland formed a group called Friends of the Tank to protect the structure from demolition. More than a hundred thousand fundraised dollars later, Odland and a team of volunteer workers converted the dilapidated structure into a performance venue. Against the odds, Odland and his avant-garde tank have been warmly welcomed in the highly conservative local community of Rangely, Colorado.
MAYKA block tape is a hybrid between LEGO blocks and tape—sticky on one side, and outfitted with LEGO nubs on the other. The tape is flexible, cuttable, shapeable, and reusable, allowing for construction feats once structurally banned by LEGO. Once on Indiegogo, MAYKA reached its fundraising goal, won a Toy of the Year Award, and is now available at most large toy retailers, including Amazon.
The Humble Mushroom Becomes an Alternative Construction Material
Aleksi Vesaluoma, a student at Brunel University, experimented with mushroom mycelium—the “root” part of the mushroom organism—and produced a structure made entirely out of “mushroom sausages.” These sausages were rendered by growing a combination of mycelium and cardboard within a tubular cotton bandage. The sausages were then arranged over a mold inside a ventilated greenhouse, where they grew for a month. While this isn’t the first example of mycelium being used as a material, it is another notch in the natural materials column for architects looking to build with more earth-friendly materials.
Century-Old Steel Manufacturer Gives a Rare Glimpse Inside the Factory
Photographer Ricky Rhodes grew up in the Rust Belt, an area so named for its once-historic production of steel that built the sky-scraping American metropolises but today conjures images of shuttered factories. One Canton-based company, TimkenSteel, has managed to hold on through the economic turbulence and shifting manufacturing practices. TimkenSteel has been making steel for the past 100 years, and its 350 employees churn out two million tons of steel annually. The company rarely lets outsiders in to see how this omnipresent material gets produced, but Rhodes was given special access.