Latest Construction Techniques

The design of housing blocks is without doubt one of the most interesting and attractive subjects of contemporary architecture. This is because in these projects the architects face some of the most serious conflicts generated by present-day society: the problem of high density development in large cities, the shortage of development land and the degradation of quality of life due to factors such as acoustic and environmental pollution.

During the second half of the 20th century, the use of vertical construction has proven to be the most logical and effective solution. However, real-estate speculation has led to serious new problems such as the building of large ring roods surrounded by mediocre construction, volumetric exaggeration and on impersonal life-style.

In the face at this situation, some architects are beginning to came out in favor of the recovery of quality and dignity in present-day society. This is the attitude underlying the projects that form the present volume of Architectural Design, a practical guide in which the professional will find the most attractive and functional solutions that have been applied by some of the architects who are most committed to these current problems.

The selection of works has not been made according to the prestige of the architects, but according to the quality of the projects. Therefore, in this volume some of the firmly established stars of contemporary architecture (Gustav Peichl, Martorell/Bohigas/Mackoy, Jean Nouvel) shore the limelight with some of those who are beginning to make a name for themselves. The present article also serves to offer a wide range of the latest tendencies in both community housing and single-family units, and to show the latest construction techniques that are now being incorporated into this area of architecture.

Energy Efficient Construction Techniques

Energy efficiency in building construction embraces a number of concerns, from building design, and choice of materials to the use of energy efficient construction techniques to enhance the building envelope – the barrier between the interior of the building and outdoors. This includes taking into consideration such matters as orienting the building to shade the windows and roof in the summer while maximizing the solar gain in winter; placing windows to provide natural light and lessen the need for electric lights to be on during the day; and the use of high efficiency windows, insulation, heating and cooling devices, and appliances. Advanced technologies have evolved to address all of these issues, but perhaps the most revolutionary advances have come about in the technique of building construction itself.

Insulated Concrete Form construction – or ICF building – is a way of constructing buildings which maximize energy efficiency. In ICF construction expanded polystyrene foam (like Styrofoam) blocks which interlock are stacked up in courses; steel rebar is placed inside them; and then they are filled with concrete. When the concrete sets the foam layers on the inside and outside act as insulation, creating an impervious thermal envelope which effectively prevents air leakage and resultant heat loss; and also reduces water vapor migration. The ICF blocks are of standard size, not made to the specifications of a particular building, and while they snap together in courses they must be cut to fit to a given length. Corner block sections come in 90° and 45° angles to adapt to the design of the architect. Apertures for windows, doors, and service utilities can be easily cut out of the foam by hand before the concrete is poured; and a wide variety of interior walling and exterior siding options are available.

The ICF construction technique creates a well-sealed thermal envelope which can reduce utility costs as much as 50%, and also reduce the need for larger, more costly heating and cooling systems. It also means that the building has no cold spots or drafts; that indoor air pollutants are reduced; that there is less likelihood of excessive moisture accumulation which can cause structural damage and adversely affect the health of the occupants; and that the atmosphere in the building is comfortable and much quieter than in a frame building. ICF concrete house walls are much stronger than stick construction and exceed all existing building code requirements for areas prone to tornados and hurricanes. They are also four times as fire resistant. ICF construction is a revolutionary advance in building technology. It is much faster to erect than any previous building method and requires less skilled labor, which has important implications for housing the world’s poor and for emergency housing construction in disaster relief efforts.

Barn Construction Techniques – Take Your Pick

There are many different ways and techniques in which barn construction can be done. These depend on the availability of materials, the use to which the building is put, the spending capacity of the builder, ethnicity of the builder, and the local geographical conditions. Some of the main types of construction techniques include the post and beam, the pole, the western barn garage, the monitor and modern barns.

You would have to choose the most appropriate one from these different techniques depending on your resources, needs and budget. Let us briefly examine some of the major techniques.

Post and Beam

A post and beam type of construction can be said to be the strongest and best of the techniques. This construction technique is centuries old. Buildings built over a hundred years ago using this technique are still existing. This type of construction involves using a framework of vertical timbers called posts and horizontal timbers called beams. The framework pieces are joined by mortise and tenon joints. It is visually appealing and has a solid appearance.

This construction allows the use of full pieces of wood instead of plywood or simple two by fours. This makes the structure much stiffer compared to the ones made using basic house building techniques. Due to this, it is especially suited to making large buildings like a barn.

Another advantage of a post and beam type of building is that it allows optimum utilization of existing space to create a structure tailor made to your needs. Your building would not only exceed specifications, but also provides you with ample room to shelter your horses, tack and supplies without constricting space.

A post and beam structure is also of the traditional style and has got an intangible quality which horse lovers look for. This is also probably one of the reasons for its popularity.

Pole Barn

Another popular technique is the pole barn. This is a building with poles fixed in the ground for supporting the walls, roof and floor framing. Usually, these types of buildings have a gravel or dirt floor, but a concrete floor can be added either before or after the construction of the main building.

It is one of the easiest and most inexpensive building construction techniques in the world. It is very popular as an agricultural storage building and also as a mainstream method in many developing countries.

Combined with modern materials, present day pole barns have been made much tougher and versatile than their predecessors.

The Western Barn Garage

The western barn garage is usually larger than similar buildings, and is popular with farmers with large livestock herds. This is because they require a large storage space for hay and grain, which these buildings provide. Besides storage space, livestock can also be kept in them. A typical feature of a western garage is the large peak roof which reaches almost to the ground, creating adequate space.

The Monitor

Among the other techniques is the monitor barn which comprises of a wooden building with a raised ceiling in the middle which is used for sheltering horses and other livestock. The raised ceiling is used as a hayloft or for storing other equipments.

Commercial Construction Techniques

In this article we will explore some old and some new construction techniques that are considered by experts in the industry to be alternative techniques. Perhaps this information will inspire some future innovative building designs. The techniques discussed here are in random order and are not intended to display any particular construction preferences.

If you would like a building designed that is pretty quiet and contains outstanding thermal mass, use the Insulated Concrete Forms technique to construct it. Although some builders use this technique strictly for foundations, it can be used to create entire structures. Some cons to using the ICF technique is that it can be fairly expensive to build and also difficult to modify once the structure is complete.

One older construction technique that is still relatively popular is using various types of wooden logs. The materials used here can range in coping techniques with specific wood type-appropriate thermal barriers between the logs to insure an airtight structure. Detailing with this kind of technique is crucial to each project it is used for. Log construction techniques are seldom utilized for commercial structures; but in some regions of the world can be a choice preference for homes.

There is also the option of commercial modular buildings. These are non-residential and code-compliant structures which are built anywhere from 60% to 90% in an offsite environment and then delivered to its ultimate destination. Upon their arrival at this destination they are put onto a concrete foundation. The end result is a totally completed structure ready for occupancy by business owners (who then add their own specific furnishings and details to the inside of the buildings.)

An especially attractive form of commercial construction technique is known as float glass. This technique is “made by floating molten glass on a bed of molten metal, typically tin, although lead and various low melting point alloys were used in the past.” The standard result of this method is an extremely flat surface with a uniformed thickness to it. This technique is most frequently seen in beautifully constructed office buildings and sometimes entertainment-oriented buildings such as an opera house or a building where a symphony orchestra might perform. They are very lovely to look at and attract much attention wherever they exist.

Of course, one of the most-often used types of commercial construction materials is steel, especially as a building’s internal support system. In general steel is utilized in addition to the builder using other materials to construct walls and floors. Steel is an environmentally-friendly material, structurally secure and energy efficient. Additionally, it is cost effective and can be easily modified. One huge disadvantage is that steel is a conductor of heat. A second con is that; if poorly constructed, the steel can corrode over time and it must be repaired to avoid serious consequences from occurring.