Katerra’s all-encompassing vision of reforming the construction world, using billions of dollars in investment to build an entirely new production system from the ground up, showcased stereotypical Silicon Valley arrogance. It also has had a fraction of the impact of European models that seek to retrofit using a simple, straightforward, and standard set of parts.
The company shared a common blind spot with many American technologists, according to Gerard McCaughey, a serial entrepreneur and founder of Century Homes, an Irish pioneer of off-site construction: it disregarded innovation pioneered overseas. While American construction favored wood-frame building on-site with readily available raw materials—picture a Ford pickup piled with two-by-fours pulling up to a lot—more space- and material-constrained builders in Asia and Europe have perfected prefab and modular techniques. Katerra ignored these examples, which slowly built up expertise by focusing on specific sectors one at a time. Instead, it tried to reinvent the wheel, bringing every facet of the complex construction process in-house and building too many different models at once and causing massive cost overruns.
“It’s not what you know or what you don’t know that catches you,” says McCaughey, who held talks with Katerra leaders. “There were things they were dead certain you needed to do, but [they were wrong]. Off-site isn’t a one-trick pony. You have to crawl before you can walk. The least experienced guy in my company knew more about off-site construction than their senior leadership.”
The Energiesprong model, which has retrofitted thousands of homes in the Netherlands and across Europe, relies on Stroomversnelling (the name means “rapid acceleration”), a network in which contractors, housing associations, parts suppliers, and even financiers work in close contact—a level of coordination that even Katerra’s sprawling system didn’t match. Right now, the Energiesprong system can redo a building in roughly 10 days. Other startups and construction companies offer complimentary upgrades: Dutch firm Factory Zero, for example, makes prebuilt modules for roofs boasting electric boilers, heat pumps, and solar hookups. The greening of an older building is nearly plug-and-play.
It’s part of a larger European model that starts with an ambitious emissions policy and supports it with incentives and funding for retrofits and new buildings via programs like Horizon Europe, in effect subsidizing novel building methods and creating a market for innovative windows, doors, and HVAC systems. A key component of its success has been governments’ willingness to fund such upgrades for subsidized and public housing, typically postwar towers and townhomes in desperate need of improvement. But there are also other significant advantages in Europe: building codes are much more standardized across countries and the continent as a whole, including some progressive regulations pushing for the passivhaus standard, an ultra-efficient level of insulation and ventilation that drastically reduces the energy needed for heating and cooling. The entire housing ecosystem is smaller and more standardized too, making it easier to support more experiments. Energiesprong uses a single building model, a handful of contractors, and a relatively small pool of players across a small area.
Coordination would be exponentially harder in a single US city, much less the entire nation. “Europe takes a shotgun approach and funds numerous programs across the board,” says Michael Eliason, a Seattle-based sustainable building expert and founder of Larch Lab, a design studio and think tank. It’s an approach that spreads risk among different ideas, as opposed to concentrating venture capital on a handful of single-minded hypergrowth startups. “The US ends up being kind of a sniper rifle,” he says. “Katerra fails and it impacts the entire prefab construction industry.”
An emerging model in Canada seeks to replicate Europe’s. CityHousing Hamilton, the municipal housing authority for the Ontario city, recently used national housing funds for a full retrofit of Ken Soble Tower, a waterfront high-rise for seniors that was built in 1967 and had fallen into disrepair. The project, which incorporated panelized exterior cladding, new high-efficiency windows, and electrification of heating and gas stoves, brought the building to the passivhaus standard; with a 94% reduction in energy usage thanks to extreme efficiency, the total energy needed to cool and heat a unit is equivalent to three incandescent light bulbs. Gracious new bay windows offering seating, sweeping views, and daylight suggest there was no aesthetic price to pay.
Graeme Stewart of ERA Architects, who led the project and has studied the nation’s hundreds of similar midcentury high-rises, says the project gave business to Canadian firms manufacturing high-tech windows and cladding, suggesting that such work could help seed a domestic industry for more green building projects. He’s even spearheaded creation of the Tower Renewal Partnership, an organization dedicated to pursuing similar retrofits across Canada. But CityHousing Hamilton’s development manager, Sean Botham, says that even with all the benefits they’re seeing for the tower residents—better air quality, infection control, mental health, and cognitive function, and “views you just don’t get in social housing”—the agency isn’t likely to pay the 8% cost premium to upgrade other buildings in its portfolio without more funding support.
As Apple is expected to announce a headset in January and Meta slows VR investment, a look at opportunities for the VR supply chain and competing headset makers (Ming-Chi Kuo/Medium)
Ming-Chi Kuo / Medium:
As Apple is expected to announce a headset in January and Meta slows VR investment, a look at opportunities for the VR supply chain and competing headset makers — (1) One of the keys to the VR industry’s rapid growth in the past 2-3 years is Meta sold VR headsets at a loss and aggressively promoted its VR business.
Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero’s Opening Recreates the Red Ribbon Saga
For 90s kids, Akira Toriyama’s Dragon Ball was one of our first steps into anime and manga. It was Dragon Ball Z on Toonami that was The Show back in the day, and the franchise has gone on in the years since to produce countless games, spinoff anime, and films. With the upcoming Super Hero movie serving as the first film in four years, Toei Animation is going all out to make sure that this movie is a big deal.
Super Hero follows Piccolo (Toshio Furukawa in Japanese, Christopher Sabat in English) and Gohan (Masako Nozawa/Kyle Hebert) as they save the world from a new version of the Red Ribbon Army, a criminal organization that first popped up when Gohan’s father, Goku (Nozawa/Sean Schemmel) was a kid back in the original Dragon Ball, and who later returned in DBZ during the “Androids Saga.” With the film having released in Japan earlier this month, and set to hit other territories sometime in the next months, Toei has released a video of the film’s opening that gives a condensed version of the Ribbon story that’s run across the franchise over the years. Bur rather than simply present that footage as it originally was, Toei recreated it to fit the style of the film’s 3D animation.
If you’ve played Dragon Ball FighterZ, the film’s art style of mixing 2D with CGI will feel familiar, and it just looks awesome. Seeing the Androids and Cell in cleaner, crisper animation, even just for a moment, may bring back some memories. Beyond the movie meant to follow Super Hero, it’s clear what anime future awaits Dragon Ball, but here’s hoping that the next series, whenever it comes out, has equally gorgeous animation.
Thanks to Crunchyroll, Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero will hit theaters around the world later this summer.
[via Comic Book]
Want more io9 news? Check out when to expect the latest Marvel and Star Wars releases, what’s next for the DC Universe on film and TV, and everything you need to know about House of the Dragon and Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power.
How to Clear the Recent Files List in Adobe Photoshop
If you’ve been using Adobe Photoshop and you don’t want to leave your recent work visible on the opening Home page when you launch the app, you have a few options for clearing the list or hiding it. We’ll show you how.
How to Clear the Recent File List in Photoshop
To clear the recent photos list in Adobe Photoshop, first click “File” in the menu bar. Then select “Open Recent.” In the small menu that appears, select “Clear Recent File List.”
And that’s all it takes. Your recent file list has been erased, and you’ll no longer see the files you’ve recently opened in the File menu or on the “Home” screen when you first open Photoshop. But new files will still be added to the list when you open them. If you want to fix that, see the section below.
How to Hide the Recent File List in Photoshop
As you’ve seen above, it’s easy to clear the Recent File List in Photoshop. But if you open more files after that, you’ll see them in the list again. To get rid of the Recent File List—and hide the recent files from the “Home” screen, click “Edit” in the menu bar. Next, select Preferences, then choose “File Handling” in the menu.
When the Preferences window opens, look toward the bottom of the window and set the “Recent File List Contains” option to the number “0” (zero) using the text box beside it.
After that, click “OK,” and Photoshop will save your changes and close the Preferences window. From now on, you’ll no longer see the list of recently opened files in the File menu or on the Home screen.
But be aware: Photoshop still keeps track of recently-opened files, even if you don’t see them listed. If you change “Recent File List Contains” to another number other than 0, you’ll see recently opened files again.
RELATED: How to Learn Photoshop
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