Rental Tech: Living Concrete, Housing Awards, & a Smartphone Door Lock

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Is “living concrete” the next big thing in building materials?

living concreteCould a single building material provide climate control, structural integrity, and reduce the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere? Sounds futuristic–but according to a new article from MHN, the future is now. Living concrete, created by a firm in Spain, utilizes three layers: a waterproof base, a layer hospitable to plant life, and a porous layer on top. The result is a concrete that is fairly lightweight and self-sustaining–and there’s no need for an additional support structure, as there often is with other structural vegetation. So how soon before moss-covered buildings start popping up downtown? Read more.

AIA Housing Awards feature multifamily building

Multifamily housing awardedThe 2013 AIA Housing Awards are out–and a multifamily building made the list! The awards feature “the best in housing design and promote the importance of good housing as a necessity of life, a sanctuary for the human spirit, and a valuable national resource.” So which multifamily building won? That’s Via Verde, an affordable housing complex in the Bronx. Firms Dattner and Grimshaw incorporated a terraced roof garden that collects rainwater and solar panels whose energy lights the building’s common areas. The mixed-use building incorporates townhomes and apartments, and features a colorful facade. Check out the Curbed article for a gallery of all the winners here.

Flexible shared space is proposed for mico-apartments

micro apartment shared spaceLove ’em or hate ’em, the micro-apartment seems to be here to stay. And while creative furnishings can make a micro unit pretty livable, there are just some aspects of daily life–entertaining, for instance–that are harder when you’re living in 400 square feet of space. One student wants to change that, however. Recent Northeastern graduate Chris Marciano has come up with a design for micro-lofts that incorporate a shared common space between them. The common spaces are designed to be easily accessible–no running down six flights of stairs to a common room–and flexible enough to accomodate different types of gatherings. Likening his design to something “between a multi-bedroom apartment, a studio and a dormitory,” Marciano notes that currently, “this is a housing typology that doesn’t really exist.” Whether it will be embraced is another question–millennials, are you ready to share the space?  Read more.

Coming to your apartment door: key entry by smartphone!

smart lockFinally today, we’ve got news on a gadget I really want. I mean, how cool is this–a door lock that can be activated just by touching the metal while your smartphone is in your pocket. Unikey Kevo, in partnership with Kwikset, has announced the project. Previously only seen in certain cars, the door lock technology has the option to use an actual key, in the event of battery failure, and allows you to manage multiple accessers and grant temporary “keys” to friends or house-sitters. While Android phones aren’t yet supported, the lock also comes with a keyfob that serves the same function as the phone. The product isn’t yet available, but should be soon–you can add yourself to the company’s mailing list if you want to stay posted.  Read more from Apartment Therapy.

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