From waste to innovative products and visionary architectural designs.
When selecting products for construction projects, there are a number of factors that comes into play: new design trends, functionality, durability, pricing, client requirements, shipping timelines, access to material and environmental qualities.
Sustainability is of key importance
According to an article by The Guardian, green materials still face more challenges than more conventional ones, but the process of green technology transfer is gaining some momentum.
Statistics on green materials markets show that the building industry is one of the largest that is shifting towards lower-impact practices. According to McGraw-Hill Construction’s 2013 Dodge Construction Green Outlook Report, the green construction market in the USA grew about ten-fold since 2006. Green building also currently represents roughly 44% of the total commercial and institutional construction in the USA, and is still growing.
Waste should not be wasted
Millions of tons of cellulose-based materials are not only recycled, but also disposed of on an ongoing basis – waste that could be used to create sustainable materials from, such as inventive building materials.
The challenge for the manufacturers of green materials, as pointed out by The Guardian, is to collect the waste material in a cost-effective way, as well as keeping production costs of the new products down. In order to do this, companies need to manufacture on a large-scale basis to consolidate costs.
And more and more companies are trying to do just that.
Watch this space
San Diego-based Noble Environmental Technologies (NET) uses waste cellulose to manufacture a product called Ecor, which are dense panels similar to cardboard or fibreboard.
Late last year, the Ecor Universal Construction Panel received recognition in the Cradle to Cradle Innovation Challenge, a competition for sustainable and affordable building products, with criteria including material health, material reutilisation, renewable energy and carbon management, water stewardship and social fairness.
The Ecor slabs are made from 100% recycled materials, mainly old corrugated cardboard, bovine processed fibres and other agricultural fibres. The product is non-toxic, free of formaldehyde and has zero off-gassing.
The panels are compact, lightweight, strong and simple to install, made in a wide variety of sizes and densities, and can be folded, cut and glued into different shapes, a superior flexibility that makes it suitable for many uses in construction. Multi-ply panels are created using an eco-burlap and white PVA glue.
Another material produced in Australia, Zeoform, is also creating a buzz. Made out of cellulose such as micro-fibre waste from textile manufacturers and water, it boasts a great strength-to-weight ratio and together with its customisability it makes a prime high-performance sustainable product for the built environment. The production process uses a formula called hydroxyl bonding, a natural glue-free process.
It can be sprayed, poured, moulded, pressed or shaped into many different forms that are then dried, finished and coated to create a wide range of products. The end-result can be lighter than cork or as dense as ebony. It is also non-toxic in harvest, manufacturing, use and disposal, and biodegradable.
Some of its recommended applications include:
• Flat panels for cladding, doors, walls, floors, ceilings, cupboards, shelves, counter tops, tiles, splash backs and laminates.
• Tubes/pipes for structural beams, columns, handrails, towel rails, banisters, furniture legs, handles and curtain rails.
• Moulded components for handles, switches and light fittings.
Newly available in South Africa
Improving efficiency while delivering better quality, a brand new line of Supawood medium-density fibreboard (MDF) is now available locally from PG Bison, after the company recently installed a Generation 8 Contiroll line at its Boksburg site.
Previously businesses often turned to imports to meet their requirements, but with greater control the Contiroll line not only improves productivity but also delivers a better board density profile. This is a key ingredient for better and deeper routing or milling of the board’s surface, a requirement long sought after in the local market. The superior surface also provides a better finish for high-gloss spray painting.
Taking architecture in the digital age to the next level is a British architect, Asif Khan, who designed the MegaFon Olympic Pavilion for the Sochi Winter Olympics in Russia.
His design concept is to give any ordinary person the opportunity to be the face of the Olympics, by having visitors’ portraits scanned in one of the MegaFon 3D photo booths and displayed in 3D on the side of the pavilion.
The façade of the 2 000m² pavilion and landscape, situated at the entrance to the Olympic Park, was designed to function like a huge pin screen. It contains more than 10 000 actuators under a fabric skin that can light up and move to form the 3D portraits with a depth of two metres.
Sure to have people talking long after the event, this design is just one more example of an architect using his imagination and demanding what has never been done before, in order to make this world an interesting place to live.
Full thanks and acknowledgement are given to Studio 3 Architects, GKD Buismet, PG Bison, www.theguardian.com, www.ECORusa.com, www.zeoform.com, worldarchitecturenews.com and www.asif-khan.com for the information given to write this article.
A form function solution
The modern TIGRIS stainless steel mesh, a form function solution supplied by GKD Buismet, is a multi-functional product with many high-specification benefits. It will be applied as an aesthetic sun screen to the Northern Façades of the new office towers on Portion 3 of the well established Lynnwood Bridge in Pretoria. The primary tenant for one of the buildings is Aurecon, as an extension of their current offices situated adjacent the site. Aurecon has an accredited green star rating for their existing offices and the new development is to follow suit. The project is due to be completed later this year.
According to Rob Bunsow, architectural project manager at GKD Buismet, on the Lynnwood Bridge installation the mesh specifically offers the following benefits:
• Solar shading.
• Reduction in energy consumption.
• Green Star points.
• Long-term cost saving.
• Edge protection.
• Longevity – the mesh is 316 stainless steel.
• Minimal maintenance (natural cleansing when it rains).
Dwayne Olivier, project architect from Studio 3 Architects who is working on the Aurecon project, says the TIGRIS mesh has been selected primarily for aesthetic reasons, although it comes with many more advantages and possibilities.
Due to the mesh’s guaranteed structural integrity, it would have been possible to omit balustrades completely in the positions where the wire mesh will be installed. But although it was an attractive concept in terms of saving money and revolutionising balcony spaces, it was decided to retain the balustrades to keep the rhythm on the façades coherent and also as a practical factor. “Due to natural human behaviour, people often use the balustrades to lean against or rest their arms on,” Olivier explains.
Now imagine a balcony without balustrades, but instead there is an almost transparent wire mesh when you approach the edge. Even someone who has never experienced vertigo might get uneasy.
“However, and this is what makes this product revolutionary,” says Olivier, “is that having the horizontal elements spaced to form perforations, creates an almost invisible sheet when viewed from darker, internal spaces, and using horizontal lines instead of vertical ones ensures that the lines of the landscape in the background are not broken nearly as much.”
From a distance away the mesh appears almost completely transparent, but from a closer angle, the horizontal rods are viewed at a more inclined perspective, making them appear closer together. Standing next to the mesh, one will not be able to see either up or down due to the angle creating a solid visual barrier and protecting the mind from experiencing the actual height when standing on the edge.
Another important reason for selecting the TIGRIS steel mesh, highlighted by Olivier, was its solar shading factors. In the same manner as explained above with regards to the visual opacity of the screens in conjunction with the distance of the occupant and angle of view, the same concept applies to the sun.
“When the sun’s rays would hit the mesh from a more vertical angle in summer, the rays would be limited and thus create more shade. In winter the effect would be opposite and allow sun rays to penetrate the screens and add some heat to the internal spaces” he explains.
“It is important, with this said, to note that the product does not obstruct any ventilation and thus, there will not be a build-up of heat. As the perforated mesh allows adequate air flow within the enclosed spaces, the direct radiation on internal surfaces in winter will not remain in the space and make it uncomfortable for its occupants seeking just that. This promotes a healthy and balanced environment as all factors work together harmoniously,” Olivier adds.
Hi-spec quick facts
• Green building roughly includes 44% of commercial and institutional construction in the USA, and is still growing.
• Ecor panels, similar to fibreboard, are made from waste cellulose.
• Zeoform, made from micro-fibre waste and water, is a customisable, high-performance product for the built environment.
• The brand new Supawood MDF Contiroll line is now available locally.
• The Olympic Pavilion sports digital skin projects visitors’ portraits in 3D.
• The multifunctional steel mesh offers revolutionary benefits for SA.