Source Materials

An increasingly robust body of research, conducted by an emerging generation of architects and designers, points the way to new methods of building and making.

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Courtesy Petr Krejci

When Arthur C. Clarke said that any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic, he was speaking from the spectator’s point of view, not the magician’s. As our list of smart materials shows, technology solves difficult problems, but getting there requires more than just a wave of the magic wand. Each of the following projects looks past easy answers. Whether it’s a new way of looking at old problems, a new material that maximizes the efficiency of an old technique, or a new method to tap the potential of an abundant or underutilized resource, here are seven innovators who take technology out of the realm of science fiction.

Emerging Objects

3-D printing with salt, wood, paper, and more

Kirstie van Noort

New approaches to traditional ceramics


Converting construction waste into raw material

Julia Lohmann

Innovations with seaweed

Textile Futures

Thinking beyond warp and weft

Center for Architecture, Science, and Ecology (CASE)

Engineering energy-efficient building envelopes

Skylar Tibbits

Moving 3-D printing into the 4th dimension

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