3D Printed Houses

Maslow’s hierarchy of needs states that PHYSIOLOGICAL needs such as food. water, shelter, and warmth is the most important then comes safety, belonging, self-esteem, and self-actualization. In order to reach the higher levels, the lower level of needs must be fulfilled first. Shelter is very important yet many people around the world don’t have this basic need. They are unable to have shelter because:

Housing Construction is…

– Labour-intensive

– Slow

– Dangerous

– Over budget

When you look at construction, it may be one of the only jobs left that aren’t done by robots or machines automatically. For example, cars and computers are both made mostly from robots/series of machines. 3D printing may be the solution to all these problems; 3D printing can build entire neighborhoods faster, cheaper, more safely, and with more precision.

Here is a video with an example of 3D printing.

Please fast forward to 04:30 to see the animation in action.

Architects are starting to build and experiment with 3D printing for houses/buildings but do printers that are able to build on such a large scale. “Building a bigger printer is not the answer. A skyscraper would require a machine that is bigger than it. And as printers get bigger, there is a trade-off between resolution and speed, says Steven Keating, a graduate student who works on large-scale 3D printing with Neri Oxman, an architect, designer and academic in the Mediated Matter group of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Media Lab.” As a result, architects and engineers are still coming up with a solution for large scale 3D printing.

If you want more information, click here.


Basics to Designing Kitchens

When one is planning to design a kitchen, they should consider 3 things that make all kitchens great.

1. The space should be visually appealing.  Every kitchen needs a focal point; a cool feature that grabs your attention and entertains the eye.  Depending on what you like, this may be a fancy looking island, open display shelving or even a colour scheme of kitchen appliances. A kitchen is used all the time so one should be comfortable and happy about their own kitchen.

2. A kitchen must be functional.  The space planning and layout of the work triangle are crucial to make kitchen tasks more efficient. A “work triangle” is a triangle of the most important components of a kitchen; the oven, sink, and refrigerator. A professional kitchen designer can help clients to customize the space to their needs while applying the principles of design and the 31 kitchen guidelines published by the National Kitchen and Bath Association.  These guidelines make the kitchen more functional and safer, a few of these guidelines include walkway sizes needed and minimum counter space and storage requirements.

3. A kitchen should be accommodating to friends and family. For example, when you go to a party or gathering, the kitchen is where the action is.  Large center islands that provide seating for guests are popular as they allow guests to interact with their hosts while they prepare and serve food and drinks. Larger kitchens are also nice because nowadays several people may work in the kitchen at the same time.  A small preparation sink located outside the primary work triangle gives guests or family members a place to wash their hands or help prepare snacks without getting in the cooks way. If social gatherings are very common at your house, you can even consider installing a wet bar to serve drinks faster.

10 Tips to Create a Well-Thought-Out Kitchen

1. For floor-level or lower storage space, having drawers rather than cupboards is a better optioin. This
way, you won’t need to bend over to look for whatever is stuck at the back of a cupboard.

2. Store frequently used accessories in the top drawers just beneath the
counter or on the bottom shelf of the cupboards just above the counter. The
remaining accessories can then be stored based on how often they’re used, with those used
least often on the highest or lowest levels.

3. Make sure that your kitchen plan includes a working counter near
the stove for dishes waiting to be cooked or those fresh out of the oven.

4. Install your range in such a way that you have ample space on both
sides. A range placed at an angle, for example, will not give you the required space, and
chances are you won’t be at ease when cooking.

5. Provide for counter space close to the sink so there is space to work with.

6 Working counters should be a minimum height of 90 centimetres. If you’re shorter or
taller than average, don’t hesitate to adapt the counter height accordingly.

7. Provide sufficient lighting for each work area.

8. Make sure the range hood is at least 60 centimetres high so that you won’t bump your

9. If you’re left-handed, set up the appliances accordingly: Place the
dishwasher to the left instead of to the right of the sink.

10. Keep a stool handy so that you can carry out certain tasks from a seated position.


Drawing Elevations

What are elevation drawings? An elevation drawing is a drawing shows the front or side of something. It is a drawing that goes with the floor plan because a floor plan only shows the bird’s eye view of a design. As a result, with only a floor plan you can not see the front, side or back of an object. An elevation drawing shows the dimensions, views, and information that cannot be shown on the floor plans.

 Elevation drawings are labeled by compass orientation. The picture below is a good example, it shows the north, south, east, and west side of the house. Floor plans can only show the length and width dimensions while height dimensions can only be shown in elevation drawings.

Finished details like exterior building materials may also be shown to make the drawing more attractive for the client. A few types of finish materials include board and batten, horizontal siding, vertical siding, plywood paneling, concrete block, brick, and shingles.

exterior finish materials
Elevation drawings are usually drawn to the same scale as the floor plan. The process of drawing exterior elevations is carried out in three steps.1. Draw the major horizontal height lines for the south side of the structure. These lines include the foundation footing line, the finished grade line, the floor line, the height of the windows and doors, the ceiling line, and the chimney’s height.2. Tape the floor plan to the top of your drawing area. Useing a T-square and triangle, project down the corners of walls, windows, doors, fireplace, etc.3. Complete the outline of all the structural features. Design a roof and add the slope diagram. The elevation details may no be added with the following features:
– vertical dimensions
– siding materials
– window and door styles
– shutters
– trim
– gutters and down spouts
– fireplace and chimney (if applicable)

Here is an informative video.

Skyscrapers – Taipei 101

Taipei 101 may just only look like any typical skyscraper, however the amount of thought and advanced architectural that went into building this is amazing.

taipei 101
To start, Taiwan (where the building is located) is an earthquake zone and also has various typhoons commonly. As a result, Taipei 101 is designed to withstand the typhoon winds and earthquake tremors common in its area of the Asia-Pacific. Planners aimed for a structure that could withstand gale winds of 60 m/s (197 ft/s, 216 km/h or 134 mph) and the strongest earthquakes likely to occur in a 2,500 year cycle.
To counter these natural disasters, the architects decided to incorporate a tuned mass damper which is a HUGE mass which moves in the opposite direction of which the building is swaying. The 800-metric ton (1,764,000 lbs.), spherical steel mass is located on level 88 and is visible from the restaurant and observation decks.
File:Taipei 101 Tuned Mass Damper.png
As a result, this design prevents discomfort, damages, and  structural failure.


  • Architect – C.Y.Lee & Partners
  • Structural Engineer – Shaw Shieh
  • Structural Consult. – Thornton-Tomasetti Engineers, New York City
  • Year Started – June 1998 (Mall already open)
  • Total Height – 508m
  • No. of Floors – 101
  • Plan Area – 50m X 50m
  • Cost – $ 700 million
  • Building Use – Office Complex + Mall
  • Parking – 83,000 m2, 1800 cars
  • Retail – Taipei 101 Mall (77,033 m2)
  • Offices – Taiwan Stock Exchange (198,347 m2)

For more detailed information click here.

Tree House Architecture

As a kid I was always fascinated by tree houses and even tried to build some however they turned out a little something like this.

Bad tree house
However, I read up on this article.
New Zealand Yellow Pages built a tree house restaurant to conduct a marketing promotion to show that no matter what your project is, the Yellow Pages can help you complete it.
The restaurant design is by Pacific Environments Architects, and is currently under construction on a site north of Auckland. You can follow the progress at the website – www.yellowtreehouse.co.nz

This design was inspired and driven by the idea of childhood dreams and playtime, fairy stories of enchantment and imagination. To compliment this concept, they chose to build this in an area raised above an open meadow and meandering stream on the edge of the woods. This is a very interesting and unique design which resembles various things in nature such as cocoon protecting the emerging butterfly or a sea shell with the open ends spiraling to the centre, also a lantern as it glows brightly at night.

The selected site and tree had to meet a myriad of functional requirements -18 seated people and waiting staff in relative comfort complete with a bar; gaining correct camera angles with associated light qualities for filming the adverts, web cam and stills, have unobstructed views into the valley and entrance to the site and structural soundness . The final selected tree is one of the larger trees on the site and sits above a steep part of the site which accentuates the tree’s height. Kitchen/catering facilities and toilets are at ground level.

Furthermore, the architects considered even the material to make the restaurant not “dominate” its environment by using wood or organic materials to give a natural feel.

As for the construction:

It sits almost 10m wide and over 12m high, with the split-level floor sitting 10m off the ground. Timber trusses form the main structure. The curved fins are glue-laminated pine, plantation poplar has been used for the slats and redwood milled from the site used in the walkway balustrading. Openings are formed for windows by leaving spaces between the slats/fins that keeps the overall form yet affords a variety of openness for the views and light and closes down toward the rear. To loosen the regularity of the elements, steel is wrapped arbitrarily around the pod. Tying this up at the top and base has a sense of greater connection with the tree.

It is designed to be weather resistant using acrylic sheeting fixed to the roof under the fins with vertical roll-down café-style blinds within. Lighting is an important architectural component enhancing and changing the mood, with discreet lighting within the walkway and up-lighting within the tree house.

A team of consultants working alongside the architects includes fire and structural engineers, town planners and aborists to meet functional and Building Code requirements.

Here is a link to a gallery of pictures of the complete work.

Digital Technology Concepts

16 Fundamental Digital Technology Concepts

Autonomy: Self-regulation by a product, process or service. e.g. Digital Clock – self corrects itself.

Aesthetics: The aspects of a product, process or service that make it pleasing to the human senses. e.g. Paint – allows colour options.


Control: The means by which a device or process is activated or regulated. e.g. Light switch.

Environmental Sustainability: The creation of products or services and use of resources in a way that allows present needs to be met without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs. An important related concept is that of environmental stewardship – the acceptance of responsibility for the sustainable use and treatment of land and other natural resources. e.g. Insulation – sustain desired temperature better.

Ergonomics: The design of a product, process or service in a way that takes the users well-being with respect to
its use or delivery into account – that is, in a way that minimizes discomfort, risk of injury, and expenditure of energy. e.g. Door handle height – made to fit people of various heights.

Fabrication/Building Creation: The act or process of assembling components and/or materials and resources to create a product or service. e.g. Constructing a house.

Function: The use for which a product, process or service is developed. e.g. A restaurant provides food and drinks.


Innovation: Original and creative thinking resulting in the effective design of a product or service. e.g. safety glass – shatters on impact to prevent injury.

Intelligence: The embedded information and/or learning potential in a product, process or service. e.g. Roomba Vacuum – It can learn about it’s surroundings as it cleans.

Material: Any substance or item used in the creation of a product or delivery of a service. e.g. graphene – strong and light material.

Mechanism: A system of connected parts that allows a product to work or function. e.g. a lock has a latch, dead lock, cylinder, and key.

Power/Energy: The resource that enables a mechanism to perform work. e.g. electricity powers many mechanisms.

Safety: The care and consideration required to ensure that the product, process or service will not cause harm. e.g. a smoke detector alarms people of a fire.

Source: Open-source and/or crowd-source development and interactivity. e.g. Kickstarter is a crowd source development website.

Structure: The essential physical or conceptual parts of a product, process or service, including the way in which the parts are constructed or organized. e.g. the wooden frame of a house.

Systems: The combination of interrelated parts that make up a whole and that may be connected with other systems. e.g. crane – uses weights, wires, hydraulics, etc.

Bathroom Lighting

A bathroom is a place to relax and recharge after a long and perhaps stressful day. Making a bathroom comfortable pays off and lighting is an important aspect to consider in bathrooms. A good lighting provides a suitable amount of light for where it is needed like such as for showers, shaving, or putting on makeup.

Some technical specifications or requirements include the consideration of types of lights, different light bulbs, and the dimming of lights. The 3 basic types of lighting are Ambient lighting, Task lighting, and Accent lighting. Ambient lighting is a substitute for natural light; also known as general lighting which provides an area with a wide illumination. Task lighting assists people in doing specific tasks such as reading, grooming, preparing and cooking food, doing homework, and playing games. Accent lighting adds emotion and drama to a room by shining lights at certain angles to complement objects (usually artwork or decorations).

Light bulbs used in bathrooms come in different types like Incandescent, Fluorescent, to LED, and Halogen light bulbs. Incandescent bulbs are the most common and cheap; they are good because they can be used with a dimmer switch but a downside is that they produce more heat than light making them extremely inefficient. Fluorescent bulbs are energy efficient, produce little head, and last a long time, however they are quite expensive. LED bulbs last by far the longest (50 000 hours), contain no hazardous materials, but they can also be very pricey. Halogen bulbs produce a very bright white light which is good for displaying things; on the contrary they can be very dangerous if placed close to flammable materials (Halogen bulbs can get up to 650 degrees Celsius). There is no “best” light bulb since different people prefer different things, but it is argued that fluorescent lights are over all the most suitable as they are energy efficient yet create a soft and natural light which is comfortable for peoples’ eyes.

Dimmers are extras in lighting; they allow control of lights meaning they also have control of the mood in a room.   In very small spaces like a powder room, having dimmers can allow an all-in-one ambient, task, and accent lighting. Furthermore, dimming the lights can also conserve energy and prolong the life a light bulb.

Safety is the most important aspect when it comes to lighting. Paying attention to aesthetics doesn’t discard the importance of safety. Remember to consult a certified electrician before working on even the most basic lighting projects. Canada’s electric code requires all outlets in bathrooms to be GFCIs (ground-fault circuit interrupters) which protects people from electrical shocks and fires. Even with a GFCI, freestanding plug-in lamps should never be placed near a sink or tub. If there are fixtures that are going to be close to the bathtub or shower (usually 6 feet, though local codes vary) bust be “wet” or “shower-location” rated to prevent accidents and injuries.


Arnold, Susan. “A Lesson in Bathroom Lighting.” This Old House. N.p., n.d. Web. 24 Apr. 2013. <http://www.thisoldhouse.com/toh/article/0,,403815,00.html>.

“American Lighting Association.” Basic Types of Lighting. N.p., n.d. Web. 24 Apr. 2013. <http://www.americanlightingassoc.com/lighting-fundamentals/3-types-of-lighting.aspx&gt;.

Eisenbraun, Blair. “ELightBulbs Lighting Blog Best Bathroom Bulbs.” Best Bathroom Bulbs. N.p., 1 July 2010. Web. 24 Apr. 2013. <http://www.elightbulbs.com/lighting-blog/Best-Bathroom-Light-Bulbs&gt;.

“The Pros and Cons of Halogen Bulbs.” The Family Handyman. N.p., n.d. Web. 24 Apr. 2013. <http://www.familyhandyman.com/DIY-Projects/Lighting/Home-Lighting/the-pros-and-cons-of-halogen-bulbs/View-All&gt;.

“Color Temperature Chart.” Light Bulbs Direct. N.p., n.d. Web. 24 Apr. 2013. <http://www.lightbulbsdirect.com/page/001/CTGY/ColorTemp&gt;.