Innovators are designing building materials that are aesthetic and structurally functional while also purifying air and water.
From teepees to glass-covered sky-scrapers, all buildings share the same basic function of providing shelter. While aesthetics also play a critical role, today’s architects are increasingly moving beyond these two design elements by using building materials in new ways that blend function, form and healthier, more sustainable living conditions.
In the same way that computer chip architects have found innovative ways to improve the performance and efficiency of ever shrinking transistors, architects designing homes and buildings for the future are increasingly turning to new materials that integrate more essential aspects of our lives.
As Intel scientists and engineers designed transistors that measured 45 nanometers, they turned to a new material called hafnium that was added to the silicon recipe. That addition helped transistors leak less electricity while running at faster speeds. Several years later, hafnium plus a new 3D design technique helped transistors get even better as they shrunk to today’s 22 nanometer size.
It’s this combination of introducing new materials then integrating essential needs that is leading building architects to improve new homes and buildings.
Using materials like wood and concrete to provide structure and for filtering air and water, today’s architects are making clean living an inherent part of a building. Wooden flooring is desirable because it can be cost-effective and easy to clean, but it can also become an integral part of a home’s purification system.
The team at Lauzon Flooring knew they could create a hardwood floor that was durable, long-lasting and beautiful with the ability to make a home truly cleaner. Their Pure Genius hardwood flooring doubles as an air purification system. There are no gizmos or gadgets cluttering any rooms, rather, thanks to a special titanium oxide material, the floor itself is the purifier.
The floor has a layer of titanium dioxide, which is activated by both natural and artificial light. Once activated, it acts as a giant natural filter, interacting with the molecules around it, breaking down harmful toxins and converting them into water and harmless levels of carbon dioxide, making the indoor air up to 85% cleaner. “Many people don’t realize the extent to which the air-tight environments in today’s homes contain pollutants and toxic contaminants, such as formaldehyde emitted from furniture, building materials and common household products. Pure Genius gives new meaning to feeling good in your home décor,” said Priscilla Bergeron, Communication Manager of Lauzon Flooring. “The purifying effect is so strong, that for an average 1,377-square-foot home installed with Pure Genius, it’s like having three trees in your home.”
At Milan Design Week 2014, concrete firm IVANKA unveiled Rainhouse. The concrete building collects and purifies rainwater into pristine drinking water. Rain falls onto the concrete roof and is then diverted into a storage tank that is lined with IVANKA’s specially formulated bio-concrete, which is pH neutral and has ‘bio-compatible effects’ on water. The concrete acts like a natural limestone cave and orients the soft rainwater’s pH levels to its own neutral levels. The result is a highly purified water that only has a mineral content of 30 mg per liter, compared to Evian’s 100 mg.
“The technology we are working on represents a high ethical value as it turns rain into the highest quality drinking water in a pure and natural way of processing,” explained company founders, Katalin and Andras Ivanka. “It will provide access to affordable clean water for small and big scale users, from families to big companies, leaving the smallest possible ecological footprint in the process.”
The buildings of the future will be created from materials that are designed to serve the needs of their inhabitants. The individual elements that make up the structure will be reinforced with a dual functionality – whether it be self-healing concrete that fixes its own cracks or self-cooling sweating rooftops that cut down on energy costs and emissions – the end goal of architecture will be to create a sustainable system of existence. Architects will also be looking to harness the Internet of Things to ensure that buildings no longer sit as silos, cut off from one another, but exist as an interconnected system that can communicate within itself to create healthier, cleaner cities.
Blending what we desire with what we need is a recipe for pushing boundaries and breaking new ground. In this series of articles published in partnership with iQ by Intel, we look at products, service and technologies that are always evolving to offer versatile applications much like the Intel based 2 in1s, a line of new multifunctional devices that are a tablet when you want it and a laptop when you need it.