Find of the Day: 22 August 2016

Skylar Tibbits has some radical ideas about the future of manufacturing.

“If you look at how things are manufactured at every other scale other than the human scale—look at DNA and cells and proteins, then look at the planetary scale—everything is built through self assembly,” he says. “But at the human scale, it’s the opposite. Everything is built top down. We take components and we force them together.”

Tibbits is a research scientist in MIT’s department of architecture, but his title belies the radical nature of his work. At MIT, he’s developing materials and objects that can be programmed to assemble themselves. In 2011, he set up a lab to experiment with 4D printing, a process that uses 3D printers to produce material that will grow and change on its own. Since then, the Self-Assembly Lab has received funding from DARPA to experiment with a series of materials that can be “programmed” to self-construct. They’ve come up with flat-pack furniture that can build itself, for instance, as well as the textile that could make self-lacing sneakers possible.


When cities redesign traffic-clogged highways, they often make them wider—despite the fact that tends to make traffic even worse. In Shenzhen, China, a team of designers thinks the best way to modernize a 12-lane highway is to shrink it instead, and rethink how highways work.

“We believe, in the future, cars won’t be operating the way they are now,” says Vicky Chan, director of Avoid Obvious Architects, which partnered with Tetra Architects and Planners and BCCI on the proposed design. “With drones and driverless cars, we think that we’ll be able to drive faster, and have fewer cars if we share. I think the concept of having a 12-lane highway is just irrelevant.”

Future 80-slide-10-this-futuristic-highway-design-adds-public-transit-and.jpg

This piece is part of By Design, a Globe and Mail/OCAD University summer series highlighting design thinking, issues and innovation. Previously:Innovation agenda, Urban agriculture, Social or precarious economy

Patricio Davila is associate professor, director of the Zero Lab and a member of the Visual Analytics Laboratory at OCADU. Sara Diamond is president of OCADU and director of the Visual Analytics Laboratory. Steve Szigeti is a researcher and manager of the Visual Analytics Laboratory.

We need the skills of designers and artists, and widespread data literacy, to ensure that Canada succeeds in the Big Data era.

We can describe data as one of the remarkable new materials of the 21st century – as important to our future as water. Data are measurements of other things: physical phenomena (such as weather patterns) or virtual phenomena (such as telecommunications packets). Every time we search for an online movie, view a video on our mobile device, tweet a comment about a news article, upload a photo to Instagram or are directed to a new location in Pokemon Go, we are producing and responding to data.

Discoverability, the ability to find what we want through harnessing our data traces, has redefined distribution. Similarly, it is through data analytics that personalized advertisements appear adjacent to or are embedded in our online experiences.

Big Datas

A tiny scrap of land might not catch your eye.

But to Japanese architect Yasuhiro Yamashita of Atelier Tekuto, there’s nothing more beautiful.
A veteran designer of Kyosho Jutaku – or micro homes – Yamashita has built more than 300 houses, each uniquely shaped and packed full of personality. All starkly different, the only thing these homes have in common is their size -Yamashita’s projects start at just 182 square feet.
Demand for small homes in Japan results partly from land scarcity, property prices and taxes, as well as the impending danger posed by the country’s regular earthquakes and typhoons.
But some residents simply prefer a smaller home, seeking a minimalist lifestyle.

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