Futuristic Building Trends

Technology resides in a perpetual state of evolution. This is its nature. The most up-to-date technology of the now will inevitably be surpassed, if not tomorrow, then soon. But this is no secret. It’s human that we continually seek improvement and betterment. Yet, somehow innovations still find ways to surprise and if not at times outright awe us.

The construction industry of course being no exemption to this phenomenon, below is a list of some current technologies that may seem pulled from the pages of science fiction but are in fact very real. 

Carbon nanotubes
A nanometer equals one-billionth of a meter. For perspective, the width of a sheet of paper is 100,000 nanometers. One would think building anything at this scale would be an impossibility. Yet scientists and engineers, through techniques such as electron-beam lithography, have achieved just that, creating tubes of carbon one nanometer in width. Carbon being so light and strong, these nanotubes can actually be implemented into building materials such as concrete and metals, even glass, fortifying the strength of the materials and increasing their densities. 

Self-healing concrete
Concrete which automatically repairs cracks—Dutch researchers have developed it. Using bacteria and calcium lactate packed into tiny capsules that dissolve when water comes into contact through cracks in the concrete, the byproduct of the subsequent chemical reaction is limestone, rendering the concrete back to its initial strength.

Transparent aluminum
“Clear metal”. It’s been sought after for decades. Now chemical engineers have made it a reality. Through a ceramic made from a powdery mix of aluminum, oxygen and nitrogen heated for days at 2,000 degrees C, the final product is subsequently polished down to a glass-like material as strong as aluminum. Already being used by the military, it could ultimately be used to build glass-walled skyscrapers which would require less internal support.

Robot swarm construction
The brain of a termite is the size of a grain of sand, yet when working in groups these insects are capable of building large, intricate mud structures. This inspired researchers at Harvard’s Self-organizing Systems Research Group who in turn developed four-wheeled robots programmed to build together in tandem. The robots build brick-like walls using sensors to detect other robots around them while seeking open spaces to lay bricks.

Building with CO2
Abalone, like other crustaceans, can convert ocean-borne CO2 into calcium carbonate to produce their hard outer shells. Researchers at MIT took inspiration from this phenomenon to develop a process in which the enzyme abalone uses to mineralize CO2 can produce a batch of yeast from everyday pollution. From there, a beaker of genetically modified yeast can yield two pounds of solid carbonite from which carbon bricks can be assembled.

3D-printed zero-energy cooling bricks
The bricks act as a sponge of sorts. Then once that water transitions to water vapor, the room temperature is lowered. This evaporative cooling technique occurs due to the brick’s porous, open weave design. In hot areas this minimizes the reliance on air conditioners, saving energy in the process.

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