Micro Organism | Hutong infill in Beijing

The rise of China’s architectural practices has been as meteoric as the growth of the university architectural departments that churn them out. Aside from a few historic and elite universities in China, architecture teaching programmes did not really exist in mainstream tertiary education until 1992. This was the start of the economic boom and so-called liberalisation under Deng Xiaoping, which, by 1994, had created around 2,000 domestic architects in China (and around 100 foreign architectural design offices registered in Shanghai alone), all eager to get a piece of the action. Read more

World’s Largest Passenger Terminal in Beijing

ADP Ingeniérie (ADPI) and Zaha Hadid Architects (ZHA) have unveiled designs for what will be the world’s largest airport passenger terminal – the Beijing New Airport Terminal Building. The Daxing scheme, based off the bid-winning planning concept by ADPI, hopes to alleviate traffic from Beijing’s existing Capital Airport, which is operating beyond its planned capacity. Read more

China Constructs World’s Tallest 3D Printed Building

Once again, Chinese company WinSun Decoration Design Engineering Co has expanded the capabilities of 3D printing. After constructing ten houses in under twenty-four hours last year, now they are back with both the world’s tallest 3D printed building – a five-story apartment block – and a 1,100 square meter mansion with internal and external decoration to boot. Read more

Solar Roadways | The Next Big Thing

Solar panels are popping up all over the place — cell phone chargers, cars, laptop power reserves, roofs — but most of these are such small-scale interventions that they seem almost inconsequential and too expensive to be worth the hassle. Though convenient, how much energy am I actually saving the world by having a backup solar charger for my phone? But, consider something much bigger: solar roadways. Read more

World's Largest Solar Power Plant

Earlier in February, the state of California got a whole lot greener with the opening of Ivanpah, the world's largest solar thermal energy plant. The plant has a capacity to power 140,000 homes with clean energy through a system that focuses solar energy to create steam for powering turbines —although the massive solar field's reflective cells reportedly fried some birds flying overhead. This week, the Golden State will get even closer to its goal of sourcing a third of its power from renewable energy sources. Read more

Transparent Cells Transform Windows Into Solar Power Collectors

It's been more than a century since the first solar PV cells were made with an efficiency of around 2%, while most solar panels used today are around 11-15% efficient. House owners interested in acquiring solar panels are limited by the orientation, roof surface area, and geographical location of their homes. Although many claim that solar energy harvesting may be terminally inefficient, a number of studies and experiments are pushing the envelope and making us excited about the possibility of a new kind of stealth solar technology. Read more

Dangerous Architecture?

According to futurist Ray Kurzweil, in less than 20 years, the world will be running purely off solar power. On February 13, we inched a little closer to that prophesy. That's when the Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System—the world’s largest solar power plant—officially began its operations. Yet, despite providing the capacity to power 140,000 homes, there's still a lot of room for improvement: Operations cost about four times that of a natural gas-fired plant while producing less energy and taking up a whole lot more space (5.5 square miles, to be exact) than the alternative. Oh, and then there's the zapping down birds mid-flight ... Read more

Foster + Partners Remain World’s “Most Admired Architect”

A global survey conducted by BD has deemed Foster + Partners to be world’s “most admired architect” for the ninth consecutive year. The London-based practice, led by Norman Foster, is the 16th largest practice in the world. Foster + Partners’ ranking was undeniable, as the survey revealed a significant seven percent lead over runner-up contender, Herzog & de Meuron. Read more

The Uneasy Excitement of Global Practice

The signs of architecture’s globalization are all around us. Foreign students flock to Boston to study architecture, prominent buildings are designed by foreign architects, American firms build practices around international projects. Globalization has allowed architects to work outside their own regions and cultures, at a scale and with a freedom of design they might never enjoy at home. But beneath the excitement and glamour of international practice, I sense an unease. Read more

2014: "Tallest Year Ever"

The Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH) released its annual report, the 2014 Tall Building Data Research Report, which concluded that 97 buildings of 200 meters (656 feet) or higher were completed last year, beating every previous year on record, including the all-time high of 81 completions 2011. Additionally, eleven "supertalls" (buildings of 300 meters—984 feet—or taller) were completed, making this year even more significant for tall buildings, as it was also the highest recorded annual total. Read more