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Smarter and Greener: The Future of Building

    • The future of construction could involve swarms of robots and 3D printed houses
    • Microalgae could help buildings generate energy and provide shade
    • Futuristic insulating materials could lower energy needs for buildings

This is an exciting time to be in construction. The challenges of a growing world population and increased economic development across the world are putting an increased strain on our resources and the environment. This challenge is being met across the globe by engineers who are developing new methods of construction and perfecting materials to improve lives and help the environment.

Some of these breakthroughs are still very much in the research and development phase, while others are already starting to be used in ground-breaking projects.

Robot swarm construction methods are being developed at Harvard and could have huge implications on construction in the future. The idea for robot swarm construction actually comes from how termites are able to build their elaborate termite mounds. The beauty of swarm construction is that, rather than having different robots with specific instructions, each member of the robot swarm can combine to finish a project. In theory, this means that, should a few robots breakdown, the project should be able to be completed with minimal disruption.

The 3D printing is a little further along the line, and has even been tested in China, where the company ‘WinSun’ have built houses using this method, and by DUS architects in the Netherlands. As with robot swarm construction this method could be used, in the far future, to build on the moon and possibly even planets.

It is not just building methods that are being developed; considerable research has gone into utilising new materials. These include Microalgae, (which provides shade while producing renewable energy), Aerogel Insulation (which is as light as air and has super-insulating properties) and the ultra-strong transparent aluminium.

In the infographic below we learn more about these materials and methods and also look at some buildings that are showing the way. These include the world famous Edge Building in Amsterdam and the Crystal in London.

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