Instead of building with bolts and rivets, architects may one day design skyscrapers held together with glue. Architect Greg Lynn believes that high-tech adhesives and lightweight materials will revolutionize architecture, strengthening skyscrapers and speeding up their construction process. 

“Mechanical assembly is already waning in many industries,” Lynn told New Scientist. “An airplane now is glued together. A car now is glued together. Even a lot of appliances are being glued together.” 

According to Lynn, non-metallic composite materials like carbon fiber and fiberglass are lighter and stronger than many traditional materials. These composite materials, Lynn claims, could be glued together to build bridges and towering buildings.

Dezeen explains that, in recent years, many buildings have been constructed using at least some composite materials. The new exterior of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and the roof of the theater at Apple Campus 2 in Cupertino were both built using composite materials, for instance. 

However, using composite materials is just the first step. Architects are still figuring out how to safely work adhesives into their designs. New Scientist explains that though adhesives are strong, they can also be flammable, and were recently blamed for a hotel fire in Dubai. 

The current aim is to develop safe and effective strategies for working with adhesives. Lynn believes the strength of the material far outweighs the dangers. “The use of composites and adhesives could revolutionize engineering in every building type,” he told New Scientist. “If you can take 30 per cent of the weight out of the upper section of a building by using lightweight composite materials, you could end up saving between 70 and 80 per cent of the material in the entire structure.”

[h/t New Scientist]