We live in a time when technology advances more rapidly than ever before. And technological development deeply embedded in the construction industry. From pyramids to skyscrapers, humans have always strove to figure out how to build amazing things with certain materials. These days, builders have energy efficiency and sustainability in mind. As a result, some architectural materials, such as metal wall panels, are being more widely used in the construction industry today.
Similar to metal roofing, metal wall panels are most often used for design or cladding. So, in addition to protecting buildings from accelerated wear by wind and water, they also add aesthetic value. Additionally, metal wall panels contribute to energy efficiency, contributing to the structure’s energy-saving building envelope design by reflecting up to 80 percent of the solar energy that can potentially penetrate the building. Metal wall panels are usually made out of aluminum or galvanized steel. However, they can also be fabricated from copper, zinc, and stainless steel.
For centuries, concrete has been the world’s most widely used building material. That’s because concrete is a highly durable material that tends to gain strength over time, and it has a high level of resistance to fire or heat. Some of the most famous structures in history—such as the Hoover Dam, the Panama Canal, and the Coliseum in Rome—are made largely, if not entirely, of concrete. In recent times, architectural firms have conducted research to make concrete an even better material than ever before, since it has one major flaw: cracking, which is caused by exposure to water and chemicals. A team from the Netherlands has developed self-healing concrete, which extends the life of the material with infused bacterial spores that patch up cracks.
Other architectural teams are also developing building materials with nanotechnology, which involves manipulating atoms and molecules to fabricate building products that have superior strength. An example is carbon nanotubes, or CNTs, which, when combined with concrete, creates a material that is so strong in compression and tension that builders do not need to use steel rebars.
Vietnamese architect Vo Trong Nghia once remarked that bamboo is the “green steel of the 21st century.” While it is still difficult to pick an appropriate contractor, especially compared to concrete structures, bamboo—which is already a popular item in its native Asia—is beginning to make significant inroads worldwide. Its main selling point—no pun intended—is its cheapness. It doesn’t cost much to line up rows of bamboo canes as cladding material, which can beautify a structure and prevent the infiltration of weather elements. Moreover, it is light and easy to bend, thus making it a versatile material for building. And when soaked in mud or smoked, bamboo can be as durable as timber.
With energy efficient products becoming more popular in recent years, solar panels have become more common. Usually spotted on the roof of residential buildings, the panels typically contain rows and columns of photovoltaic (PV) modules, each of which comprise a packaged, connected assembly of solar cells. These models draw energy from the sun to generate electricity, thus cutting down on the amount of energy used by the building. Due to this benefit, solar panels have also become popular in commercial construction, and they can even be found on some street lights.