Daily digest: Google overengineers a return to the office, a 3D-printed house gets tenants, and more

Digital Fabrication, Real Occupants

Daily digest: Google overengineers a return to the office, a 3D-printed house gets tenants, and more

The 3D-printed house in Eindhoven, thanks to its thick concrete walls, is very energy efficient. (Courtesy Project Milestone)

Welcome back to another Friday edition of AN’s daily digest. Getting ready for the weekend? Here’s the news you need to know:

The Salone del Mobile is on after all

After a back-and-forth that saw Milan’s Salone del Mobile president, Claudio Luti, resign last Friday, the furniture fair and design festival will go ahead this September as originally planned.

Luti stepped down as president over fears that international exhibitors would be scared off by the threat of COVID and that the festival would be smaller than normal, despite the Italian government giving its assurances and lifting the freeze on industry events after July 1. Now, Salone organizers have confirmed that the 59th edition of the fair (and its 60th anniversary), will take place September 5 through 10 at the Fiera Milano in Rho, just northwest of Milan.

Saudi Arabia unveils a $15 billion master plan for AlUla

Saudi Arabia is moving ahead with plans to overhaul the city of AlUla along the 12.4-mile-long central corridor. The $15 billion master plan, titled “Journey Through Time,” will add 15 new cultural and historic institutions to an area that contains the country’s first UNESCO World Heritage Site, Hegra.

The project will be completed in three phases (one in 2023, one in 2030, and the last in 2035) to help develop the area as a tourist destination. Once the project’s legal framework is finished, an international competition will be held next April to find an architect for the Kingdoms Institute, an international study and conservation center.

H/t to The Art Newspaper

This 3D-printed house in The Netherlands now has real-life tenants

Project Milestone hit a major landmark this morning, as the group welcomed the first long-term tenants to its 3D-printed concrete house in Eindhoven, The Netherlands. The 1,011-square-foot home was designed and printed in the shape of an irregular boulder, in part to help differentiate it from boxier 3D-printed homes and demonstrate that inclined angles were achievable with the printing system.

The building moved into today is the first of five Milestone houses, which the group hopes will set a precedent for Dutch designers. Project Milestone is a joint collaboration between “Eindhoven University of Technology, Van Wijnen, Saint-Gobain Weber Beamix, Vesteda, the Municipality of Eindhoven and Witteveen+Bos.”

H/t to Project Milestone

Google is using inflatable walls, hot desking, and adjustable HVAC to return to the office

Google employees are heading back to the office, and the company is using the opportunity to experiment with its workspaces. Square footage equal to 10 percent of Google’s worldwide office space will become a living laboratory, as the tech giant tests out new distancing technologies at its offices in Mountain View, California.

To “de-densify,” Google is buffing up its outdoor working offerings, breaking up long tables with team pods, and encouraging hot desking with adjustable HVAC stations at each desk. The feature drawing the most awe (and derision) online is robotically-driven inflatable partitions that can be deployed to separate desks when privacy is needed. Of course, as The Verge pointed out, many of these innovations wouldn’t be needed to begin with in a non-open office floorplan.

H/t to the New York Times

New York’s Open Streets program will likely become permanent

Today there’s good news for New Yorkers used to enjoying car-free streets throughout the pandemic (and bad news for the Greenpoint residents who threw the street barricades into Newtown Creek last week). Yesterday, the New York City Council approved legislation to make the Open Streets program permanent, giving the Department of Transportation the authority to close streets to traffic and open them to pedestrian use—as well as for outdoor dining and retail shopping.

Since the program officially launched in April of 2020 as a way to get New Yorkers out and moving during lockdown, the city has closed 67 miles of streets to traffic, far short of its 100-mile goal. Hopefully, the new bill, which allows community boards to nominate streets for closure and establishes a quota of closed streets in “underserved” areas, will help boost that number. Mayor Bill de Blasio is likely to sign the legislation into law when it hits his desk.

H/t to 6sqft

Texas’s winter storms and lax regulation unleashed a wave of carbon monoxide poisonings

There was a silent killer that rolled through Texas after severe winter storms crippled the state in February. With much of the Lonestar State without electricity and temperatures dipping, thousands of families inadvertently poisoned themselves with carbon monoxide. By using coal to stay warm or idling their cars indoors, and no statewide regulations to mandate carbon monoxide alarms, at least 11 people died and 1,400 more were injured. Texas is one of only six states to not require alarms, which are necessary because carbon monoxide is odorless, tasteless, and diffuses evenly throughout a room.

H/t to NBC News