It’s a sad fact that floors generate more than 40% of the majority of multi-story buildings’ total mass, and many of the surfaces that support office floors and apartments are culled from concrete. They produce a substantial amount of the emissions caused by constructing and operating a building throughout its lifespan. With the production of concrete producing approximately 8% of global carbon emissions, lowly floors pose a danger to the climate.

[Photo: courtesy Philippe Block]

On the interior, the concrete floors utilise 3 centimeters of concrete (that’s less than 1.25 inches) arching across a skeleton-like framework of thin supporting steel bars, and liken a grid, with thicker lines of concrete only when deemed to be needed.

[Photo: courtesy Philippe Block]

The floor slabs that Full Professor at ETH Zurich and head of the Institute of Technology in Architecture Dr. Tom Van Mele and Philippe Block’s team created have been perfected to lessen material requirements while keeping up their strength—but the principles inspiring the design originated in the form of Gothic cathedral construction. Masonry building techniques—depending on arches and the compressive strength of stones carved and stacked together—have built buildings that stand for hundreds of years. It’s an ancient type of building that’s discovering new importance in the age of 3D printing, and was used by Block and designers from Zaha Hadid Architects to construct an arching pedestrian bridge in Venice, Italy, using 3D-printed parts that stack sans mortar.

[Photo: Juney Lee/courtesy Philippe Block]

Block states that the new floor-slab system has already been suggested for inclusion in a sizable project presently seeking building permits, and he hopes to see it employed in other projects soon. The collaboration with Holcim and its objective of marketing the process by the year 2023 will assist. Yet Block also seeks projects that yearn to integrate this new system sooner. Making an effect, he said, requires this new variety of floor construction to be a part of new buildings around the globe.

The future, says Block, is here now.

[Photo: Juney Lee/courtesy Philippe Block]

Source: fastcompany.com

Image source: Juney Lee/Philippe Block