Newsletter 07.2011

Dear Readers

The Right Stuff.

One of the key elements of good design is the intelligent, appropriate and, increasingly, sustainable use of materials.

In this issue of our newsletter, we look at how two different materials, one traditional (brick) and one more contemporary (high-tech textiles), have been put to work recently in the creation of innovative and intriguing architectural projects.

Venezuelan pavilion designed by architect Fruto Vivas; construction: Rasch und Bradatsch Architekten / 3dtex GmbH ('The Very Fabric of Architecture: textile use in construction')

We also examine the work of Danish design engineer Claus Mølgaard, who, in taking designers' ideas and proposals and translating them into workable, production-ready pieces, is concerned with the performance and effects of materials in manufacturing.

And, as part of our strategic partnership with global materials consultancy Material ConneXion, we've integrated the best from their materials library into our powerful products database. Read on for more detail.

If you're more of a bullet-point person, here's what you'll find in this issue:

* Bricking It: innovative applications of man's most trusted material
* The Very Fabric of Architecture: textile use in construction
* Keeping It Real: Claus Mølgaard
* The best of Material ConneXion now on Architonic
* The latest projects from Architonic's 'Architecture & Design' section

Enjoy the summer and be inspired!

Your Architonic Team
Zurich | Milan | Barcelona | Berlin | Cologne | Copenhagen | Stockholm | London | Miami
Bricking It
Innovative applications of man's most trusted material
Brick is one of the most ancient and familiar building materials known to man, and its strength, character and flexibility of use continue to attract architects working on innovative contemporary buildings. Architonic examines some key projects that demonstrate the benefits of building with brick.
NORD Architecture's electricity substation for the London Olympics demonstrates how the use of colour and form can challenge our perceptions of what a brick building looks like; photo: Andrew Lee

In the classic children's story, three little pigs build houses to hide from a hungry wolf. The hungry wolf huffs and puffs and blows down the first little pig's house of straw and the second little pig's house of sticks, but the third little pig was too clever for him. The third little pig built his house out of bricks, which saved his bacon. The safety and robustness of brick remains the key to its enduring appeal, particularly for residential purposes.
The elevation of TAKA's mews house features a decorative pattern of projecting bricks; photo: Alice Clancy

Bricks made from shaped mud dating back to 7500 BC have been found in the Tigris region of Mesopotamia and, since then, brick has helped define the built environment of many developed nations. While production methods may have changed, the capability of brick to offer reliable protection from the elements over a prolonged period has helped it retain its popularity in the building trade. 'The main benefit of building in brickwork is longevity,' explains Dr Ali Arasteh, Principal Structural Engineer at The Brick Development Association. ‘There is no other construction material that offers such long-lasting performance with minimal maintenance and ongoing costs.'
The tradition of brick buildings in Belgium influenced Atelier Vens Vanbelle's choice of material for this notary office in the village of Horebeke; photo: Atelier Vens Vanbelle
The Very Fabric of Architecture: textile use in construction
Most people have at one time or another spent the night in a tent and have benefited from the protection provided by its fabric, while at the same time enjoying the sensation of being separated from nature by nothing more than a thin shell. Textile forms of habitation have a long history going back to palaeolithic times and represent an archetypal form of building which has endured to the present day. Textiles are light, easy to convert or dismantle, and they provide protection against wind, ultra-violet rays and rain.
Loro Parque open-air aviary on Tenerife: the fact that the filigree netting is hardly noticeable is the result of a special process in which the entire structure of the net is coloured black

Modern architecture has rediscovered the principle of the tent as an architectural form and taken its development further - not just for temporary structures but also for permanent buildings. Advanced and durable fabrics enable large areas to be spanned, which has turned their use into a highly specialised sector within the construction industry. At the same time the specific static demands made on textiles by wind load, weathering and distortion together with structural factors such as mounting and bracing these textile elements require a great deal of engineering know-how.

Producing stretches of fabric and cutting them to size is implemented on the basis of complex patterns which, thanks to the latest computer technology, can also integrate statically relevant factors.

In this article and those that will follow in our series on 'The Fabric of Building: Textile Architecture' we will be describing textile structures used in a wide range of architectural applications and highlighting the diversity of fabrics employed in architecture.
Tahari Showroom, New York; Photo © Gisela Stromeyer
Keeping It Real: Claus Mølgaard
Behind every great design there's a great designer. But, more often than not, there are a number players involved. Meet Claus Mølgaard, the go-to Danish design engineer whose work on products for the likes of Ron Arad and the Bouroullec Brothers reminds us that design is an iterative, and often complex, process, as much as a finished product.
  Keeping It Real: Claus Mølgaard  
Copenhagen-based design engineer Claus Mølgaard: 'We don't work much with incremental design. It's more about a revolutionary development'

Any viewer of (or, if you're lucky enough to be one, audience member at) the annual Oscars ceremony knows what makes a generic acceptance speech. 'I really wasn't expecting this.' 'I've not prepared anything.' 'I'd like to thank my mother and father / my beautiful and supportive spouse / my director, studio boss, DP, best boy, make-up artist, etc, etc.'
Scale experiments for the Bouroullec Brothers' 'North Tiles' for Danish textile manufacturer Kvadrat

If there were an Oscars night for the international design industry, one name would certainly appear with regularity in those moist-eyed acknowledgements. You may not have heard of Claus Mølgaard, but he's the go-to engineer who takes designers' ideas and proposals and translates them into workable, production-ready pieces. He makes things possible. Think of him to design as Cecil Balmond is to architecture.
The best of Material ConneXion now on Architonic
As part of Architonic's new strategic alliance with Material Connexion, we've integrated the latest additions to the New York-based consultancy's high-calibre materials library into our powerful 'Products & Materials' database on

To mark this, we've created a special newsletter that explains what Material ConneXion do and how they do it, and outlines how Architonic users can now benefit from their materials expertise. Click on the link below to read it.
Material ConneXion's materials libraries, located on three continents, are complemented by a comprehensive online database featuring over 6,000 innovative and sustainable materials
The Architonic App: your perfect summertime companion
It's summer.

What to do with all those extra daylight hours? Why, get aquainted with the Architonic App, of course.

The Architonic App for iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch puts the entire Architonic products and materials database in your hands, allowing you, as architect, interior architect, planner or, simply, design consumer, to carry out your professional research on anytime, anywhere.

The intuitive navigation across product groups, manufacturers, designers or free-text searches allows you to locate the right products at the right time.

And all of this with breathtaking speed and brilliant picture quality - and, of course, it's always up to date.

So what are you waiting for? A three-month subscription costs just €3.99.

(Oh, and the Architonic App also works in winter.)
  The Architonic App: your perfect summertime companion
Recent Projects from 'Architecture & Design' on Architonic
Saunders Architecture
  Recent Projects from 'Architecture & Design' on Architonic  
Fogo Island Artists Studios (The Long Studio), Canada, completed 2011; photographer: Bent Rene´Synnevåg and Saunders Architecture
EDF Archives Centre, Bure-Saudron, France, completed 2011; photographer: ©Julien Lanoo
Kazumi KUDO + Hiroshi HORIBA / Coelacanth K&H Architects
Umimirai Library, Umimirai Library Kanazawa city, Ishikawa prefecture, Japan, completed 2011; photographer: ©Satoshi Asakawa