Monday, 14 March 2016

Skyscrapers of the Future Will be Held Together With Glue


Glue – Future of Architecture

Geoff Manaugh, the monthly column of New Urbanist tends to explore how technology and design seem to change our cities, home, the built environment as well as ourselves. Glue seems to be the future of architecture and that is how architect Greg Lynn tends to see it. He does not seem to be alone in this belief. Lynn states that `mechanical assembly has already been fading in several industries and an airplane is now glued together as well as a car.

With lot of appliances now being glued together, so why not the skyscrapers? Non-metallic composites like carbon fibre, fiberglass panels together with other structural plastics seems to be lightweight and are usually cheaper than traditional materials offering physically stronger systems for the designers to work on.

Composite materials are more like rigid fabrics and sticking them together would result in building-sized components which could at times be set hard in a few seconds, based on the adhesives utilised. Composite materials have been in use already in making of wind turbine blades, high-performance yachts, and large passenger aircraft like the Boeing’s carbon fibre Dreamliner and also commercial spacecraft like SpaceShipOne.

Connective Strength of Architectural Adhesives – Amazing

Architect Bill Kreysler who started his career making composite sailboat though later moved on to designing structures like family homes and art museums, states that these are fundamentally different material systems. His firm had recently worked on modular exterior panels for the development of San Francisco Museum of Modern Art that is presently one of the prevalent composite-based building porticos in United States.

Kreysler comments that the connective strength of architectural adhesives could be amazing, surpassing that of mechanical connections like screws and bolts. However, composites are not comprehended adequately in the building industry.

 The invisible magic of glue is not trusted in favour of brute force resulting in them not being adopted extensively. Moreover while assembling a structure using carbon fibre panels, contractors tend to continue using screws, rivets or bolt which is redundant as well as expensive. Glue would seem to be stronger than a bolt particularly while standing up to total forces.

Composites/Adhesives – Transform Engineering/Design around Natural Disaster

There are already successful building projects which tend to use these techniques like the Bridge in a Backpack project from University of Maine that has been exploring the construction of lightweight bridges. It has been made from carbon fibre tubes with individual arches that tend to weigh so little that they can be carried by four persons and these road bridges can be assembled in less than a couple of weeks. Around 18 have already been built in the US.

Lynn is of the opinion that very soon we would see skyscrapers held together completely by adhesives. Lynn states that the use of composites as well as adhesives would transform engineering in each building and could change the way we seem to design around natural disaster. By severely reducing the weight of a building, one could stop it from swaying much at the time of an earthquake.

Lynn informs that lighter buildings also seem to be cheaper and if one takes 30% of the weight out of the upper area of a building by using lightweight composite materials, one would save between 70 to 80% of the material in the entire structure.

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