A research team from the National University of Singapore (NUS) has developed Cloud Arch, an innovative, ultra-light architecture that will revolutionise the way large open public spaces, such as market, airport, stadium, concert hall, factory, are built.
This patent-pending technology is jointly developed by a research team led by Japanese architect Assistant Professor Shinya Okuda, who is from the NUS School of Design and Environment, and Professor Tan Kiang Hwee from the NUS Faculty of Engineering, in collaboration with structural engineering consultancy firm Web Structures.
Cloud Arch is a new generation of architectural technology that harnesses ultra-light materials to meet the construction needs of sustainable future. The first prototype debuted as one of the two winners of Archifest 2014 Pavilion Competition that was held in Singapore from May to June 2014. Cloud Arch was on display from 26 September to 11 October 2014.
Assistant Professor Shinya Okuda, who is from the NUS Department of Architecture, said, “Shed is one of the most primitive forms of architecture. We are interested in creating column-free space in a way that saves materials and time, by using ultra lightweight materials. We decided to use Expanded Polystyrene (EPS) foam, a widely used packaging material.
More than 95% of this material is air, and its composite can be fire-resistant. After two years of prototyping and structural testing, we successfully developed a technique to control the composite material and applied it for the construction of long-span structures. This novel technology has been granted a provisional US patent.”
"We have also developed several prototypes - starting from a mere 4-metre span, to the current design comprising two sets of 14-metre span in the form of the Pavilion. As the design looks like a floating cloud, we called it Cloud Arch," added Asst Prof Okuda.
Cloud Arch: Lightweight, scalable, reduces costs and setup time
Elaborating on the merits of Cloud Arch, Asst Prof Okuda said, "Structurally optimised forms are often doubly curved. By applying digital fabrication technology on the EPS foam, we could shape complex forms in a fast and cost-efficient manner. As the material is extremely lightweight, we could achieve significant savings in terms transportation cost as well as the time taken to set up and dismantle the structures. With Cloud Arch, we hope to reduce the construction cost by one-third and construction time by half, compared to conventional construction materials, such as concrete.”
Professor Tan Kiang Hwee, who is from the NUS Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, added, "EPS foam has almost similar compression strength to weight ratio as concrete and is currently used as landfill for landscape works. We are also testing its composite properties when reinforced with bonded fabric as a possible material for permanent construction."
Dr. Hossein Rezai, Director of Web Structures, which has been conducting structural simulations of the Cloud Arch commented, "A very encouraging fact is that, we have barely needed to increase the EPS composite thickness for the longer spans, but only to reinforce its composite strength. This implies that Cloud Arch's advantageous ultra-lightweight, will be further realised when the target spans get longer."
The research team’s next step will be to develop a 24-metre span factory roofing prototype. This project is supported by the NUS-JTC Industrial Infrastructure Innovation (I3) Centre, which was set up jointly by NUS and JTC Corporation in 2011 to promote the development of innovative and sustainable industrial infrastructure solutions in Singapore. Other possible applications of the technology include developing longer spans for airplane hangars.
Mr David Tan, Assistant CEO of JTC Corporation’s Development Group, said, “JTC is glad to support the project through the NUS-JTC I3 Centre. We hope that the Centre will continue to push the boundaries of innovation and explore new possibilities in sustainable industrial infrastructure solutions, land intensification, planning and design, and systems integration and optimisation, to support the transformation and growth of Singapore’s industrial landscape.”
Mr Theodore Chan, 54th President of Singapore Institute of Architect and Chairman of the Jury Panel for the Archifest 2014 Pavilion competition noted in the competition’s announcement letter dated 4 July 2014, "A breakthrough in technology, the patent-filed structural-foam of Cloud Arch intrinsically lends itself to a statement of true architectural form. The innovative use of fire-resistant structural foam coupled with technological research and rigorous testing, is a commendable effort on the part of the architect-designers behind Cloud Arch. The efficiently spanned arched roof immediately achieves a 'wow' factor together with relative ease and speed of construction. In today's context of the industry's drive towards enhanced productivity and buildability, Cloud Arch represents great promise in material technology advancement."
On his vision for future applications of Cloud Arch, Asst Prof Okuda said, "20th century visionary R. Buckminster Fuller once envisioned his invention Geodesic dome to cover 3km radius over the Manhattan in the 1960's for the energy efficient built environment. We hope that the Cloud Arch could make such a great impact on the sustainable built environment in the 21st Century.”
Chew Huoy Miin
Phone: +65 6516 6822
Chew Huoy Miin | newswise
Smart homes will “LISTEN” to your voice
17.01.2017 | EML European Media Laboratory GmbH
Designing Architecture with Solar Building Envelopes
16.01.2017 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Solare Energiesysteme ISE
Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.
While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...
Laser-driving of semimetals allows creating novel quasiparticle states within condensed matter systems and switching between different states on ultrafast time scales
Studying properties of fundamental particles in condensed matter systems is a promising approach to quantum field theory. Quasiparticles offer the opportunity...
Among the general public, solar thermal energy is currently associated with dark blue, rectangular collectors on building roofs. Technologies are needed for aesthetically high quality architecture which offer the architect more room for manoeuvre when it comes to low- and plus-energy buildings. With the “ArKol” project, researchers at Fraunhofer ISE together with partners are currently developing two façade collectors for solar thermal energy generation, which permit a high degree of design flexibility: a strip collector for opaque façade sections and a solar thermal blind for transparent sections. The current state of the two developments will be presented at the BAU 2017 trade fair.
As part of the “ArKol – development of architecturally highly integrated façade collectors with heat pipes” project, Fraunhofer ISE together with its partners...
At TU Wien, an alternative for resource intensive formwork for the construction of concrete domes was developed. It is now used in a test dome for the Austrian Federal Railways Infrastructure (ÖBB Infrastruktur).
Concrete shells are efficient structures, but not very resource efficient. The formwork for the construction of concrete domes alone requires a high amount of...
Many pathogens use certain sugar compounds from their host to help conceal themselves against the immune system. Scientists at the University of Bonn have now, in cooperation with researchers at the University of York in the United Kingdom, analyzed the dynamics of a bacterial molecule that is involved in this process. They demonstrate that the protein grabs onto the sugar molecule with a Pac Man-like chewing motion and holds it until it can be used. Their results could help design therapeutics that could make the protein poorer at grabbing and holding and hence compromise the pathogen in the host. The study has now been published in “Biophysical Journal”.
The cells of the mouth, nose and intestinal mucosa produce large quantities of a chemical called sialic acid. Many bacteria possess a special transport system...
10.01.2017 | Event News
09.01.2017 | Event News
05.01.2017 | Event News
17.01.2017 | Earth Sciences
17.01.2017 | Materials Sciences
17.01.2017 | Architecture and Construction