Construction is one of the spheres of human life, where new technologies and materials find their application especially quickly. Without pretending to be objective, we collected in one article several products, as well as constructed or under construction buildings, which seemed to us more noteworthy than others.
Well, albeit not soaring – but capable of rising a few centimeters above the surface of the earth in the event of an earthquake and being in this position until the end of the tremors.
As you might guess, this technology was developed in Japan, moreover in the last decade – however, it was noticed in the Land of the Rising Sun only after the devastating earthquake of 2011.
The system, developed by the designers of Air Danshin Systems Inc., implies the presence of a powerful air cushion, which allows the house to hover above the ground, if necessary, at the right time. A sensitive sensor is able to detect the beginning of seismic activity in advance. It gives a signal that activates the air compressor. The latter takes a matter of seconds to fill the air with a special pillow between the house itself and its foundation. The thickness of such a pillow is only a few centimeters, but this is quite enough to reduce the damage from an earthquake many times. After the end of the shocks, the house sits on a special frame around the perimeter of the foundation. According to new technology, about a hundred houses have already been built in Japan. Some of them are not very large buildings,
The idea of “flying houses” has already become interested in other countries of Asia, also, like Japan, located in areas with increased seismic activity.
The creators borrowed the idea of a new product, as often happens, in nature. Namely, in a seashell containing a complex of minerals that affect its growth. Scientists from the University of Michigan, Victor Lee and Yingzi Yang, set out to create concrete that can independently “heal” cracks formed, for example, as a result of an earthquake.
After they finally decided on the composition for the concrete mixture, the new product showed truly amazing properties. Covered by a tensile load of 5% by a network of cracks, he not only fastened them, but also restored its original shape. Conventional concrete in such tests would simply break into pieces.
Water helps to restore its shape and quality to innovative concrete. Interacting with it for several days, it reacts with mineral additives and other compounds contained in concrete, as well as with carbon dioxide from the atmosphere – and scars on a concrete slab are healed with calcium carbonate. In this case, the plate restored in this way will lose practically nothing in strength.
Innovators from the USA see the use of their concrete in construction, including road, and especially in the construction of bridges. They recall that an earlier version of the elastic concrete was already used to build the bridge in their home state: its roadway is completely without joints, and cars drive through it almost silently. A similar product was used in the construction of a sixty-story skyscraper in the Japanese city of Osaka.
At the time of its settlement in September last year, the Canadian Columbia University dormitory was the tallest wooden building in the world. It was built from a cross-glued beam, which in strength exceeds steel and is very resistant to fire.
The 53-meter-high building, dubbed Brock Commons, was designed and built by Acton Ostry, a Canadian architecture firm. As its representatives emphasize, all the wood that went into the production of timber was extracted in the forests of British Columbia. The construction process, with the exception of interior decoration, met a record 70 days. The hostel is designed for 400 students who currently live in it.
In fairness, it should be noted that the cross-glued beam CLT (cross-laminated timber) is not a novelty in the building materials market: it appeared on the market in the 90s of the last century. Numerous layers of this material are glued in such a way that the fibers of the previous layer are always perpendicular to the fibers of the next. This technology gives the material high strength, while its production is virtually waste-free. An innovation is the construction of high-rise buildings around the world from CLT and other modern wood processing products – the special word plyscraper even appeared to indicate them, by analogy with the well-known skyscraper, “skyscraper”.
Building from salt, which in proverbs and sayings of different nations is a synonym for futile efforts, the Dutch architect Eric Jobs managed to turn it into reality by developing an environmentally friendly technology for the production of blocks based on sea water.
Using solar energy, salt is extracted from the ocean and then mixed with starch, which is obtained from seaweed. The output is blocks similar to bricks, which have high compressive strength. Buildings made of such blocks are covered with epoxy resin-based material, after which no moisture can damage them. Blocks of salt are quite suitable for creating flexible arched structures.
For arid countries, Eric Jobs emphasizes, this construction technology is optimal. The first small city, completely built from salt blocks, will be erected in Qatar.
Celestial has repeatedly struck the whole world with the scale of its construction projects, whether it be the Great Wall or the world’s longest suspension bridge. This time, in the Chinese city of Chongqing, they set about building a horizontal Conservatory skyscraper, which will rely on the roofs of four high-rises of 250-meter height. The author of the project was the architect Moshe Safdi, the contractor was CapitaLand. The complex of buildings will include two more high-rise buildings, the construction of which is being carried out simultaneously with the construction of a horizontal skyscraper. All seven buildings will be connected to each other by elevated passages and make up a single architectural ensemble.
Inside the Conservatory there will be apartments, hotels, offices, a shopping center and a spacious relaxation area with a swimming pool, gardens and observation decks. The weight of a slightly curved horizontal tower is 12 thousand tons. Its construction will require 3200 glass and 4800 aluminum panels. The design consists of nine segments, four of which will be assembled on site, one on each of the skyscrapers. Three intermediate segments are welded on the ground and lifted to the installation site by hydraulic jacks. And finally, the two extreme segments will be assembled from short sections last. They are planning to complete the installation of the structure this year.
The horizontal Conservatory skyscraper, like the entire Raffles City Chongqing building complex, is being built in accordance with the LEED Gold green standard. It provides measures to reduce absorbed heat and an effective irrigation system, which will reduce the cost of air conditioning the building. The issues of reuse of construction waste and their disposal are also thoroughly worked out.
As the engineering firm Arup, responsible for the safety of the complex of buildings, assures, the seismic and wind resistance of the buildings will be at the highest level.
To complete the construction and inaugurate the Raffles City Chongqing, which also includes the horizontal Conservatory skyscraper, builders expect next year.