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Architecture vs. Air Pollution?Some architects are fighting air pollution with innovative projects. We’re not talking indoor air here – these architects are helping cities with serious air pollution problems deal with the atmospheric pollution. Mexico City is a prime example – it has long been listed as among the most polluted cities in the world. Now a German company called Elegant Embellishments Ltd is fighting Mexico City’s air pollution with special architectural tile being installed on a new wing of the Dr. Manual Gea Gonzalez Hospital.
The tile, called proSolve 370e, is coated with a liquid covering that absorbs pollution. The coating, developed by U.S. company Millennium Chemicals, breaks down nitrogen oxides in the air. A primary component is titanium dioxide.
However, there’s more to it than just the coating. The tiles are designed specifically for the hospital’s surroundings, taking into account levels of sunlight, wind speed, and wind direction. The custom-designed shape of the tiles – they resemble a latticework – creates turbulence and helps distribute the pollution particles along the surface, so the coating can do its job better.
Another pollution-fighting exterior can be seen on a museum in Paris, the Jean Vouvel Musee du Quai Branly. Rather than a chemical coating, however, the museum sports a “living” wall full of grasses and shrubs that absorb toxins from the surrounding air.
The wall was designed by landscape architect Patrick Blanc, who has put these “vertical gardens” on a number of other structures around the world.
Air pollution takes many forms. One of the stinkiest is the smell of urine common in some large cities where typical public facilities to handle human waste are not sufficiently available.
A designer in the Philippines, Lira Luis, is tackling that problem with a special wall made of ceramic or concrete and planted with algae and small plants that will feed on the urine. Not only will the plants reduce the smell of the liquid waste, but they will also trap carbon dioxide the way all plants do.
Since buildings contribute so much to the world’s pollution, it’s fitting that some architects are seeking ways to use buildings to reduce pollution.
Outside In: The Art of Using Trees as Interior Structural ElementsEvery visitor to the Frank Lloyd Wright Home and Studio in Oak Park, Illinois notices the tree growing through a corridor (it’s actually a replica of the original tree, but visitors get the idea). So building around a tree is not exactly a new practice, but some modern architects have used trees as important architectural elements in their designs. These trees aren’t just pretty ficus trees used for decoration — they actually serve a structural purpose.
For example, Japanese architect Hironaka Ogawa powerfully incorporated two big trees when he expanded a 35-year-old house in 2010. The trees had grown in the yard of the existing home while the family grew up; the daughter of the family told Ogawa she remembered climbing them when she was little.
But the trees, a camphor and a Azelkova, were directly in the path of the planned extension of the house, and keeping them alive and intact was simply not an option. So Ogawa improvised. He cut the trees down, but kept the branches attached, and kiln-dried them for two weeks. Then he installed them inside the new structure, exactly where they had stood before, to act as main structural columns.
They now dominate the living room, dining room, and kitchen of the expansion.
In the United States a six-year-old architecture and building firm, WholeTrees, specializes in this type of construction. Part of the company’s mission statement reads: “WholeTrees re-brands round timber for urban and commercial environments in place of steel.”
The company’s portfolio includes commercial structures, such as a bandshell in LaCrosse, Wisconsin that uses trees to hold up the roof, and residences that creatively use trees for roof support, decoration, and many other uses.
Tree houses, of course, are a hot architectural trend these days. Trees inside houses, however, can play a key role in creating more practical structures.
Color Drawings Provide a Good Return on InvestmentAlmost four years ago, Lyra Research published a White Paper titled Color Construction Documents: A Simple Way to Reduce Costs. One of the findings Lyra published was “Despite the potential return and minimal investment requirements, color CAD documentation techniques are generally underutilized in building projects.”
Since the publication of that paper, the printing of color construction drawings has increased significantly. Why? One reason is that large format color printers and their associated total cost of ownership continue to decrease each year and with every new color printing technology cycle. We are rapidly reaching the point where the delta between color and plain paper monochrome printing makes switching completely to a color solution an affordable possibility.
Another reason color construction drawings are becoming more popular is because they can provide a great return on investment. Recently an electrical contractor told me that construction drawings printed in color have saved their firm a significant amount of man hours on job sites. Color drawings aid in reducing the amount of hours associated with errors, performing redundant work, and fixing mistakes. As a result of the color construction drawings produced on their Canon inkjet printer, their firm is experiencing a higher rate of return on their projects.
For more information on large format Color Printers visit www.millerblueprint.com and select the Product tab to view information on HP, Canon and Kip printers. If you currently have an inkjet printer and a plain paper solution from Xerox, Oce, Ricoh or Kip you should consider combining their capabilities into a single printer like the Kip C7800. The Kip C7800 is the fastest high-production plain paper color printer available today. Information on the Kip C7800 can be found at http://millerblueprint.com/kip-products/
For a color construction document consultation please contact Webb Fox at firstname.lastname@example.org or 512.200 649.
Tips & Tricks: How to Save Money on Direct MailDo you have an upcoming corporate event, promotion, or holiday card? Are you thinking you can save money by printing your own mailing labels and applying your own postage? Take a second look at the numbers – you might be surprised to find that doing it yourself actually costs more than our direct mailing service.
Discounted postage rates are available for presorted mail. The Forever Stamps that you’ll be using are at an all-time high of $0.49. For example, a mailing of 500 pieces costs $245 in Forever Stamps. But using the presorted mail rate, that same 500-piece mailing costs only $130 – a savings of $115!
Assembling cards for mailing takes time and will cost you money. This work can include label formatting, address printing, hand applying labels, hand applying postage, folding cards, and hand inserting them. Don’t undervalue your time or the time of your employees!
Miller Blueprint’s direct mailing service offers more benefits:
- We sort, check, correct, and clean out your mailing list.
- Returned mail will be avoided by using the National Change of Address database (NCOA).
- Incorrectly formatted addresses will be corrected using the Coding Accuracy and Support System (CASS).
Before you go the D.I.Y. route, let us provide you a quote for printing and mailing. For more information on Miller Blueprint’s direct mail services, contact Ian Cousins, Customer Sales Service Rep, at 512-381-5276 or email@example.com.