Daily Dose: German-Chinese House

Add to TwitterBamboo is pretty great. It’s considered a renewable building material because it grows quickly and poles can be harvested without killing the tree. It doesn’t look half bad either, especially when paired with lightweight EFTE material like the German-Chinese House at the 2010 World Expo in Shanghai.

German-Chinese House; Image ©Markus Heinsdorff, MUDI

Markus Heinsdorff’s (the designer’s) vision for a pavilion that embraces sustainable urbanism includes a fair amount of recycling. Not only are all of the German-Chinese House’s materials recyclable or reuseable, the building itself can be taken down and reassembled elsewhere at the end of the Expo. Its purpose will likely be “re-cycled” as well. What do you think it’s best suited for?

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Daily Dose: Seed Cathedral

Add to TwitterYou’re about to witness a break-down of objectivity. I LOVE the UK’s pavilion for the 2010 World Expo. It is unlike anything I have ever seen; is a brilliant way to publicly emphasize the importance of preserving seeds and biodiversity; and will culminate as a hugely generous gift to the host country, China.

At first glance, or even first walk-around, this building is a visually engaging but seemingly purposeless construction. Not so. The Seed Cathedral is aptly named. Its prickly appearance is made up of 60,000 translucent rods with fiber-optic filaments that are – get this – filled with seeds. What’s so cool about that? These seeds are from the Kew Millennium Seed Bank in West Sussex, part of the largest plant conservation project in the world.

Seed Cathedral; Image courtesy of inhabitat.com

Translucent Rods; Image courtesy of inhabitat.com

Workers for the MSB primarily collect seeds that are on the verge of extinction and those that are the most useful for the future. By 2020, the Millennium Seed Bank hopes to have collected 25% of the world’s seeds. This is vital work as plants are enormous providers of food, oxygen and medicinal remedies. We know only a fraction of the role that plants play in the continuation of life on Earth – and you can be guaranteed that role is massive. Architect Thomas Heatherwick says, “The UK pavilion encourages visitors to look again at the role of nature and wonder whether it could be used to solve the current social, economic and environmental challenges of our cities.”

Inside Seed Cathedral; Image courtesy of inhabitat.com

Six storeys of 7.5 meter long tubes filled with seeds would probably be impressive enough – but it doesn’t stop there. Since the rods contain fiber-optic filaments, light is able to reach the interior of the pavilion where it creates an Avatar-like atmosphere (think Eywa and the Tree of Souls). The building also responds slightly to air movement, adding a kinetic element. And best of all, when the Expo is finished, all of the seeds that fill the 60,000 rods will be donated to China.

Unprecedented architecture, a compelling and crucial message, and international cooperative support – what more could you ask for? Thanks, UK.

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Daily Dose: Cycling Pavilion

Add to TwitterI’ve been writing about various countries’ pavilions at the 2010 World Expo for about a week now, and despite the remarkable architectural innovation I’ve been sharing with you, I still think of a “pavilion” as a tented structure housing information booths. Perhaps Denmark’s spiraled cycling track will finally change that!

Danish Cycling Pavilion; Image ©Iwan Baan

Little Mermaid, Promenade; Image ©Iwan Baan

The interior of the white painted steel Danish Pavilion, designed by BIG Architects, houses a gently spiraled track for cyclists. It is paved with the same blue material found on bike paths in Denmark. With 300 bikes available for visitors to the pavilion, everyone will have a chance to experience what it’s like to travel in Denmark. For an added taste of Danish culture, a small pool at the base of the ultra-chic track showcases one of Copenhagen’s treasures – a statue of H. C. Andersen’s Little Mermaid. (I find it somewhat humorous that a pool of water is waiting at the bottom of a spiraling bike path, were you to lose control of your bike… something I would almost certainly do).

In keeping with the Shanghai Expo’s sustainability theme of “Better Life, Better City,” the Danish pavilion’s light exterior helps keep it cool by reflecting the sun’s rays. Of course, all of the cycling activity on the interior encourages city-folk to walk or bike as sustainable modes of transportation. A rooftop garden offers a view of the Expo, although it wasn’t mentioned what’s being grown up there… maybe some fruit-and-veggie munchies for the ride down?

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Daily Dose: Go Fly a Kite

Add to TwitterMexico is changing things up a bit in Shanghai at the World Exposition. Besides building an actual pavilion, they are also erecting what’s been dubbed a “kite forest.” Why kites? Read on to find out.

Mexico's "Kite Forest"; Image ©expo2010.cn

The name for kite comes from the Nahuatl word “papalotl” meaning “butterfly.” (Nahuan languages are indigenous to Mesoamerica and are primarily spoken in Central Mexico.) Besides representing Mexican people’s aspirations for better lives and communities, the kite also ties Mexico to China, as the kite originated in China. Throughout the colorful kite forest in Shanghai are touchscreens which enable visitors to learn about future sustainable building projects in Mexico.

Doesn’t it look like these flat “kites” could be easily converted into solar panels? It could be a cheerful, interactive community installation that also provided power to surrounding neighborhoods. What do you think?

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Daily Dose: Sand Dune Pavilion

Add to TwitterFoster + Partners’ pavilion for the 2010 World Expo in Shanghai may just be my favorite. The glowing hues, the sensuous curves of the exterior and the inspiration behind the building’s design combined are innovative and inviting.

UAE Pavilion; Image courtesy of inhabitat.com

The United Arab Emirates, UAE, is represented by this landscape-like creation. The building was inspired by the shape and colors of a sand dune and is nearly as mutable as its model. UAE’s pavilion can be easily deconstructed and rebuilt for future use (and I certainly hope this facility finds a permanent home after the Expo). To minimize energy use, the north façade lets in an abundance of natural light while the southerly wall is closed to minimize heat.

What do you think this building is best suited for after its use at the 2010 World Expo? My vote would be concert hall but for that low band down its center…

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New AIA Course for Beta Testing

Add to TwitterMasonry Technology has just completed a new online course that will be eligible for HSW (Health, Safety, and Welfare) and Sustainability credit from the AIA once it is approved. The course, entitled Don’t Waste Your Energy: Rainscreen Drainage Systems Save Energy, Increase Structural Durability and Improve HSW, explores the negative impact of moisture on all types of insulation. It also examines the health and sustainability implications of entrapped moisture.

Those who take this course can expect to learn how holistic building practices improve the construction process; how “tightening” buildings for energy savings have actually caused a variety of energy and structural problems; how some of the things we commonly detail into the building envelope are accelerating the moisture problems; and tips for choosing and installing an effective rainscreen drainage system to overcome these energy, durability and health issues.

Before any AIA/CES provider can get an online course approved and listed by the AIA, it must be Beta tested and verified by at least ten individuals. MTI is seeking candidates to take the class with the understanding that as soon as the course is approved, they will be given credit for it. There is no cost, nor do you have to be an architect or AIA member to take it. The only thing we need from those taking the class is an affidavit on your letterhead stating that you took the class and that it lasted an hour. As soon as we have ten affidavits, we will submit the course to the AIA/CES office to be approved as an online, asynchronous course with HSW and Sustainability credit. Though we can’t guarantee that it will be approved, we haven’t had a course turned down yet.

If you are willing to be a Beta tester, please contact Mark Johnson (mark@mtidry.com or 800.879.3348) stating that you would like to take the class. This course is open to all, and you will receive a certificate of completion upon finishing the class and submitting your affidavit.

**This article was published in our Spring 2010 edition of Moisture Matters™, MTI’s quarterly newsletter. If you missed out, contact us (sarah@mtidry.com or 800-879-3348) to receive a copy by email!

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Rainscreen Requirements in Building Code

Add to TwitterOn January 1st of this year, the state of Oregon began enforcement of Section R703.1.1 of their 2008 Oregon Residential Specialty Code. This section regards the “Exterior Wall Envelope” and requires that a minimum 1/8″ gap be allowed between the weather-resistive barrier and exterior cladding.

The air space accommodates the required drainage plane which, as you well know, will greatly increase the life of the building and the health of its occupants by removing moisture! All contractors in Oregon were to be in compliance with this code by April 1st, 2010.

Section R703.1.1 Exterior Wall Envelope

To promote building durability, the exterior wall envelope shall be installed in a manner that water that enters the assembly can drain to the exterior. The envelope shall consist of an exterior veneer, a water-resistive barrier as required in R703.2, a minimum 1/8 inch (3 mm) space between the water-resistive barrier and the exterior veneer, and integrated flashings as required in R703.8. The required space shall be formed by the use of any non-corrodible furring strip, drainage mat or drainage board. The envelope shall provide proper integration of flashings with the water-resistive barrier, the space provided and the exterior veneer. These components, in conjunction, shall provide a means of draining in water that enters the assembly to the exterior.

Talk to us at Masonry Technology, Inc. and let us help you meet the building code requirements efficiently and affordably.

**This article was published in the Spring 2010 edition of Moisture Matters™, MTI’s quarterly newsletter. If you missed out, contact us (sarah@mtidry.com or 800-879-3348) to receive a copy by email!

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