The building industry is constantly seeing improvements in materials, some tools and even certain techniques. So there should be no surprise that the next range of futuristic improvements is pretty much here. Whilst we don’t have a spaceship to take us to Mars, we seem to have been able to come up with the materials we are going to use when we eventually do get there (Martian Concrete). Let’s take a look at some of the building materials of the future that we can use at home, here on earth.
Laminated Veneer Lumber (LVL) and Cross Laminated Timber (CLT) are examples of Engineered Timber. Engineered timber is made by layering and glueing a number of sheets or pieces of timber together. This produces a solid piece of timber with a significant increase in strength. This method of producing timber is great for the environment, reducing our reliance on steel. It also allows builders to order timber to exact lengths and dimensions saving time and money. This building material of the future is already being put to great use, check out this amazing residential building made using CLT. (Peek inside the tallest cross-laminated timber building in the US)
Did you know concrete is one of the most commonly used building materials in the world? It is also very common for concrete to crack. Potentially ruining jobs and costing time and money. So a concrete that has the ability to heal itself when cracks appear seems like something out of this world. But it is not! Self-healing concrete has been demonstrated to work in a few different ways. Firstly a bacteria can be added to the concrete mix that when a crack forms all that is needed is to add water. The bacteria then reacts to the water creating something called Calcite which fills the crack. Another form of self-healing concrete comes from a Dutch civil engineer.
This concrete requires heat to be introduced for the concrete to heal itself. The implications of this step forward in building materials could see money and time saved in maintenance costs. Also reducing emissions by lowering the amount of concrete needed over time.
Researchers at KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm have developed a process that can turn wood veneers transparent. The idea is that they are able to remove the lignin (a chemical in the wood) which leaves the wood veneer white. They then do some sciencey stuff (what they call nanoscale tailoring) and the wood becomes transparent. The uses of this are windows and facades to let light in without giving up privacy (the wood does not become completely see-through). But also possibly replacing glass coverings for things such as solar cells.
Who knows what the future will hold for the building industry but with advancements like these you can bet the future is bright.