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 Architectural plastics. Alfonso García Santos and Javier Tejera.

Architectural plastics

Alfonso García Santos and Javier Tejera

The chemical nature of plastics, their classification according to composition, configuration or structure, and their properties are reviewed... [read more] in the following text by Alfonso García Santos, Professor of Construction at the Madrid School of Architecture and Javier Tejera, an architect who specializes in textile architecture. The article includes a discussion of the processes of deterioration and aging of synthetic polymers, the advantages and limitations of each polymer type, their recognition and the applications they offer for construction. [-]


To construct is to unite elements of reduced dimensions to form objects of much greater size. Adhesives make simple contact connections possible... [read more] by using a third material. In contrast to traditional construction adhesives, which were based on the penetration of one material into the other to form mechanical links, modern adhesives establish chemically based connections. The author analyses current adhesives by examining their mechanical and thermal behaviour and addresses their properties and applications in structural connections, structural reinforcing, the building envelope, cladding and masonry.[-]


The architect creates the visual environment by both molding the material and controlling the lighting... [read more]. Norbert Lechner analyses basic criteria for designing spaces with high lighting quality using a three-tier design approach. The first tier addresses general concepts, the second tier deals with daylighting and the third tier with electric lighting. This article is concerned with the first tier. The second tier is also published on this website (under the subject heading Daylighting) and the third tier will be available shortly on tectonica-online. [-]


Norbert Lechner

Daylighting was always an integral part of architecture, until the appearance of artificial light relegated it to just another design element... [read more]. Today, however, the richness that natural light brings to architecture, combined with the need to optimize energy use in buildings has brought daylighting again to the forefront of architectural design. The author of this article synthesizes basic criteria for daylighting design, clear and simple concepts that are sometimes forgotten or ignored.
The original text of this article is from the chapter on Daylighting from the book Heating, cooling, lighting; Design Methods for Architects, by Norbert Lechner, John Wiley & Sons, Inc. New York 2001. [-]


Open itemAltered structures

Alejandro Bernabeu

Due to its corporality, the building structure can be a determining factor in the configuration of architectural space... [read more]. Alejandro Bernabeu analyses structural design strategies from a dual perspective: considering structural constraints as design opportunities and understanding the possibilities that certain alterations or distortions of typical structural configurations can have on a project’s spatial definition. [-]


Fire safety and architecture

César Martín-Gómez and Natalia Mambrilla

The architects César Martín-Gómez and Natalia Mambrilla analyze the main factors to be taken into account when designing a building’s fire protection systems... [read more]. The authors lay out the parameters affecting different building uses and typologies, the influence of the building’s characteristics in the development of a fire and strategies for isolating and fighting fires. Finally, they review concepts of fire protection engineering and design strategies for smoke control. [-]


Modern construction in general is less durable than traditional construction, and due to its lightweight and experimental character it is often plagued with energy control problems... [read more]. The construction professor Ramón Araujo analyzes construction pathologies in concrete and steel structures, adequate fire safety measures and criteria and limits to improve the energy efficiency of building envelopes and mechanical systems in mid-century modern architecture. [-]


In this article, interior architecture is analyzed as a discipline within the field of architecture, from the point of view of construction... [read more].  The text of Mariano Martín is structured around the study of joints, the placement of which are determined both by the characteristics of the finish material and the way it is installed. [-]


The industrial myth

Enrique Azpilicueta and Ramón Araujo

The evolution of construction systems towards higher levels of prefabrication and their increasing requirements for lighter weight, deformability, reuse and recyclability are analyzed by Enrique Azpilicueta and Ramón Araujo... [read more], professors in the Department of Construction and Architectural Technology at the Architecture School of thevPolytechnic University of Madrid. This process, where industry and design converge, is moving towards the assembly line production of buildings with the optimization of quality, efficiency and product improvement characteristic of industrial production. [-]


Steel structure applied to the block typology is analyzed by José Jurado, Construction professor at the School of Art and Architecture of the European University of Madrid... [read more]. The essay includes everything from the determination of the degree of rigidity of the connections and the bracing diagram, to the resolution of different elements that take the structural potential of steel to its  limit: long spans using cellular beams, trusses or built-up sections, bridge-like transfer structures, minimal columns and large cantilevers. Four unique projects are examined as examples of stacked structures. [-]


Classic systems of integral heating, cooling and ventilation are making way for natural and fan-assisted solutions that use windows, vents, double-walls or centralized air intakes... [read more]. Ramón Araujo, construction professor at the Madrid School of Architecture, analyzes different passive strategies for renovating and improving interior air quality, and for cooling buildings and their occupants with convection or evaporative cooling mechanisms made possible by natural ventilation. [-]

Fabric Architecture

Fabric architecture offers unbeatable strength to weight ratios compared to traditional structural systems, as well as many options for increasing energy efficiency. This article by Javier Tejera, defines the design criteria... [read more] for creating fabric structures, and examines structural types, static analysis and pattern design, structural and anchoring systems, and different membranes and protective sheets, detailing their properties and uses, and the basic requirements for installing and maintaining these types of structures. [-]


Open itemRoofs: a design focus

José Jurado Egea

Since the development of the continuous waterproofing membrane, the classic division between flat and pitched roofs has become an anachronism... [read more]. José Jurado, Professor of Construction at the School of Art and Architecture of the European University in Madrid, analyzes current roof typologies and technologies from the viewpoint of different design objectives: sculptural expression, energetic object, usable space and structural efficiency. [-]

Open itemRoofs: new uses

Tectonica’s editorial staff

Systematic catalogue of construction solutions for non-conventional use of roofs, as spaces for sport, green roofs, for vehicular traffic, with draining or wood paving.


Nature’s designs are shaped by the control of energy; they are “optimal” designs, the product of a slow process of adaptation to the environment. For centuries architecture also developed in response to this same requirement... [read more], until the architectural object ceased to be rational because it had access to what seemed to be unlimited energy production. Now, however, faced with the deterioration of the environment, a new model has appeared. In this article the construction professor Ramón Araujo proposes a return to fundamentals to create architecture capable of satisfying our needs while rationally using resources. [-]

The search for minimum energy consumption in buildings requires the development of strategies to increase the energy efficiency of building services, using advanced technological systems... [read more] –lighting control, energy production and recovery, thermo-active structures– or simpler resources –thermal mass, adiabatic cooling, free cooling or thermal solar energy–. The concepts of efficiency, energetic balance and optimization of consumption are analyzed by Enrique Azpilicueta, Doctor of Architecture and professor of Construction and Architectural Technologies at the E.T.S.A.M. (Escuela Técnica Superior de Arquitectura de Madrid). [-]

This includes the energy consumed by the extraction of the raw materials, manufacture, transformation, associated transportation, installation, maintenance and disposal... [read more]. It does not include the energy used in the construction and maintenance of infrastructures, the specific means to build the infrastructures and the human energy of the labor. [-]

Exterior finishes

Metals have traditionally been used as cladding materials, and offer a wide variety of solutions for creating continuous exterior finishes in construction projects... [read more]. In this article, Jaume Avellaneda, Professor of Construction in the architecture school of Vallès, Barcelona, analyzes the different metallic materials and products that are suitable for cladding. He also describes the technical considerations that should be taken into account when designing joints, layout patterns and protective systems that guarantee the cladding's durability. [-]

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