Design & Build Review: Issue 40

In this issue: MVRDV's green plans, fire safety after Grenfell, hardwood CLT and healthcare and designing power storage systems into homes


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One of the overarching goals of architecture is to provide safe and pleasant environments for people to live and work in. What exactly that means is forever in flux, but this goal remains almost universally constant. However, despite architects’ best efforts, this isn’t always achieved.

Earlier this year the UK was rocked by the Grenfell Tower fire. In the weeks that followed, fire safety in construction saw unprecedented scrutiny, with the worrying conclusion that UK regulations on the subject are simply unfit for purpose. In this issue, we look at how and why warning signs were ignored, and what the industry can do to move things forward.

While not as direct a threat, air pollution is also a growing concern, particularly inside buildings where it can be so often ignored, yet have devastating effects. However, a growing trend for truly green architecture could help to improve this issue.

Green buildings have been visualised by architects for many years, but so often the reality falls far short of the render. Thankfully, this is starting to change. We hear from MVRDV’s Fedor Bron about how efforts have improved and why the design firm’s project in Eindhoven could be a showcase for what’s to come.

Green efforts have also seen an increased use of wood in projects, with cross-laminated timber becoming one of the most popular materials this year. We speak to dRMM Architects about the firm’s work on the world’s first hardwood cross-laminated timber building to find out how the material is benefiting health, particularly in a healthcare setting.

Management of light and airflow is also important for a good-quality environment, and while this has traditionally been handled artificially – at great energy expense – operable glass façade systems are providing increasingly efficient approaches. We look at some of the projects pioneering such systems.

Plus, with home energy generation and storage becoming increasingly accessible, we look at how architects can incorporate such technologies into their designs.

And if that wasn’t enough, we also look at some of the projects to break ground in the last few months, and showcase some of the latest tools, materials, fixtures and fittings that have been made available.

Design & Build Review is free for iPad and the web. Download the app to read the latest issue and browse our back issues for free.

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In this Issue

Breaking Ground
Whether it’s been a long time coming or a smooth process to build, the moment a project breaks ground is so often a cause for relief for everyone involved. We look at some of the notable projects from around the world to break ground in the last few months.
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After the Fire
In the wake of the Grenfell Tower fire, UK building regulations have been exposed as unfit for purpose. We explore what went wrong, why warning signs were ignored and what can be done in the industry to prevent another tragedy.
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Green in the City
The incorporation of plants and trees into schemes has been a growing trend for some time, but now with the start of construction on the world’s first vertical forest city in Liuzhou, China, and the announcement of projects such as MVRDV and SDK Vastgoed’s sustainable housing complex in Eindhoven, it is advancing to a whole new level. We ask MVRDV’s Fedor Bron whether this is the start of a new approach to urban development, or a passing design fad.
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Light and Air
MAD architects has unveiled its sci-fi-inspired plans for electric car company Faraday Future’s new California campus, which, alongside futuristic aesthetics, features a host of energy saving touches, including increasingly popular operable glass façade systems. We look at how such dynamic systems are being used in projects across the world to boost green credentials, increase shading and aid natural ventilation
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Inside the World’s First Hardwood CLT Building
Maggie’s Oldham, a charity centre for cancer sufferers and the first building to be constructed from hardwood cross-laminated timber (CLT), has opened in the UK. We look at the benefits and challenges of building with US tulipwood, and its potential for healthcare and support settings.
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Power at the Core
With home batteries now widely available, Frances Marcellin looks at the changing market; who is buying them; how homeowners can benefit and the best ways for architects to incorporate such generation and storage systems into their projects.
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New In
There are always new materials, fixtures, fittings and tools being released. Here we look at some of our favourites to come onto the market in recent months.
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Next issue preview

In the next issue of Design & Build Review, out in December, we’ll be talking to Marwa Al-Sabouni, a remarkable architect based in Homs, Syria, about the country’s architectural past and future.

We’ll also speak to the architects behind Venice’s Marco Polo Airport expansion, and consider how wood is being used in modular construction, with reference to Penda’s plans for a modular CLT skyscraper in Toronto.

Plus, we’ll look at how architects are innovating with brick, how one residential building has been retrofitted to Passivhaus standard and much more.

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