Floating architecture

New-London-Architecture-winners_Baca-Architects_Buoyant-Starts_dezeen_sq
London architecture studio Baca has proposed building floating homes on London’s canals

Dezeen investigated the trend for floating architecture following a flurry of proposals ranging from housing developments on the canals of London to floating homes in Amsterdam and amphibious cities in China.

Walden Raft by Elise Morin and Florent Albinet
This see-through floating hut is modelled on the remote cabin built by 19th century American author Henry David Thoreau

Robots

Eva plastic robotic arm by Automata
The Eva robotic arm by Automata is designed to help robots become as ubiquitous as desktop 3D printers

Engineers and scientists have been trumpeting the beginning of the robot age for decades, but this year it finally felt like it might be dawning.

Austrian architect Wolf D Prix declared robotic construction and 3D printing to be the future of architecture, while Dutch designer Joris Laarman shared his plans to use robots to 3D print an entire Amsterdam footbridge in mid air.

Joris-Laarman-MX3D-3D-printed-bridge-visualisation-park-square
Joris Laarman and MX3D’s steel canal bridge in Amsterdam will be 3D-printed by robots

Linked towers

Copenhagen Gate by Steven Holl
Steven Holl’s Copenhagen Gate is linked by a suspended footbridge and cycle path

Steven Holl’s plan to build two huge structures in Copenhagen that connect 65 metres above the city’s harbour via a cycle and pedestrian bridge were revived. But he wasn’t the only architect trying to link skyscrapers.

Cloud Corridor by MAD
Cloud Corridor by MAD

Chinese firm MAD proposed a complex of towers for LA that would be linked by sky gardens on various levels, while Vietnamese firm Vo Trong Nghia designed three towers for Ho Chi Minh City that connect at the roof with bridges covered in greenery.…

Crowdfunded architecture

Luchtsingel-Rotterdam_ZUS_Ossip-van-Duivenbode_dezeen_sqb
The crowdfunded Luchtsingel bridge in Rotterdam, designed by ZUS

While crowdfunding platforms like Kickstarter have become established tools for designers to bring their products to market, 2015 was the year crowdfunded architecture moved beyond student projects and temporary popups.

Lowline-underground-park-New-York-_dezeen_468_12 sq
The proposed design for the Lowline in New York, billed as the world’s first underground park

This year saw the completion of the “world’s first crowdfunded public infrastructure project” – the 400-metre-long Luchtsingle pedestrian bridge in Rotterdam – while Danish architecture firm BIG launched a campaign to fund the smoke-ring-blowing chimney for its Copenhagen power plant.…

Timber buildings

The Cube by Hawkins Brown
The Cube, a 10-storey residential building in London’s Shoreditch built using cross-laminated timber

New innovations and techniques are turning engineered and laminated timber into the architectural wonder material of the 21st century. Architects told Dezeen it can beat steel and concrete on quality, sustainability and speed of construction.

79&Park Stockholm by BIG
The stepped glass and wood 79 & Park building designed by BIG is under construction in Stockholm

Handmade bricks

Broad Street House in Suffolk by Nash Baker Architects
The ground floor of this house designed by London studio Nash Baker Architects is built from handmade-brick

Another traditional material that enjoyed a revival this year was brick, but instead of pushing the boundaries, architects explored the possibilities offered by old techniques.

RielEstate by Joris Verhoeven Architectuur
This asymmetric gabled house in the Dutch village of Riel was also made using hand-moulded bricks

Handmade bricks, which provide wider variations of colour and texture than mass-produced stock, appeared in housing projects in the UK and the Netherlands. In Africa they were used as a means to tap into local skills and engage residents in community projects in Rwanda and Zambia, among others.…

Ocean plastic

Project Ocean exhibition and Water Bar at Selfridges
Indian Ocean by Studio Swine, one of a series of objects made using ocean plastic and named after the ocean from which the waste was collected

Ocean plastic, created by harvesting and melting down waste from the world’s seas, was the breakthrough material of 2015.…