From the beginnings of history, as we know it, architecture has been one of the defining forces of humanity. Architects and town planners have left timeless echoes through our past;
Echoes that found their essence in culture, art, and formed the very fabric of civilizations. As both an art and a science, architecture has played a significant role in mankind’s story. Each era has brought with it different ways of design thinking; ways to build community, preserve political boundaries, and design built environs that are timeless and so beautiful that they take your breath away!
Looking into the past, we can glean wisdom from the lessons that we have learned and forged new tools to take us into the future. What will the next few years hold in store for architects all over the world? We study some of the emerging trends in architecture, to help us get some clues about how our future cities will look.
A Clearer Understanding of the Construct of Space
Tomorrow’s generation is intensely competitive, fiercely autonomous and does not conform within the framework of acceptable social norms. The millennials’ way of living is radically different from that of their parents. Many young people do not feel the need to get married and start a family. With work becoming an overarching priority, children are rarely a part of the equation. Housing that can be shared with friends or co-workers, especially a home that can also be used as an office is expected to be a popular choice.
Space efficiency is the new buzzword in architectural circles, and buildings are now expected to be not only more efficient in terms of space and energy, but also healthier and more sustainable for future generations. A bedroom may convert into an office space in the daytime or a dining area may double up as a conference room. There is, therefore, a growing trend toward minimalistic spaces that are flexible and multifunctional. Buildings are expected to be true to their purpose, and to fulfil a multitude of objectives rather than just one.
Sustainable Building Themes
Climate change is fast becoming the new reality in countries all over the world, and sustainable architecture that respects the environment is going to be the dialogue of the future. Buildings will seek to be efficient in the use of materials, will utilise innovative and renewable means of energy, and will not negatively impact the delicate balance of the ecosystem. New technologies in green construction will address concerns of reducing waste and pollution, and increase economy, durability and utility of the built spaces in a way that is ecologically sustainable.
Some ways of green building that are already making an impact are using locally available materials and resources, or even better using recycled waste materials like tyres and bottles or recycled timber and stone for new constructions. By building thoughtfully, without waste, we can create an architecture that is inspired and sustainable for future generations.
Bamboo as a Building Material
Following the ideals of green thinking, bamboo is an essential material that will be used extensively as a construction staple as it makes perfect sense and is in total agreement with the environment. Extremely versatile, energy efficient and strong, bamboo as a construction material has enormous potential but has been dramatically underused till the present day.
Traditionally used in hot climate zones in Asia and Latin America, bamboo architecture is now becoming popular among architects all over the world who are prioritizing green building and the use of sustainable building materials. Compared to timber which takes at least 25 years to mature, bamboo can become fully grown in as little as three years and has a tensile strength that is, amazingly enough, higher than that of steel. Besides which, structures made of bamboo are creative and intrinsically beautiful and take aesthetics to a whole new level!
Earthquake Resistant Architecture
The growing prevalence of natural disasters such as earthquakes has necessitated a closer look at innovative housing solutions in times of emergency. Architects can solve everyday problems through innovative design, and have time and again risen to face the challenges and limitations imposed by situations enforced by disasters.
There is a lot of innovative study and research that is underway in the exploration of self-construction using experimental methods of building. Reconstruction techniques for mass housing may include construction using rammed earth, and other local materials such as bamboo that is more flexible and resistant to seismic activity. These new techniques, when implemented, can not only stand up to nature’s extreme forces but will also be extremely economical, serving to alleviate the lack of mass housing in poorer countries.
Women in Architecture
A Women in Architecture survey conducted in 2017 in the UK, North America, and Europe has revealed that when it comes to gender equality in architecture, we still have a long way to go. Sexism, bullying, and discrimination are rampant in this profession as much as in any other; and over half the women who took the survey reported that they had faced discrimination in practice. While they worked the same hours or more extended hours than men in the same position, they were not acknowledged and were given comparatively lower salaries and bonuses. The next decade is expected to see a sea change in this culture, with career progression for women being seen at the forefront of women’s advancement in the society.
Many movements in public spaces took place in cities across the world in 2018, and campaigns such as the UN’s “#HeForShe” and “#MeToo” spread like wildfire on social media and in leading corporates and institutions all over the world. In the discipline of architecture too, there has been growing awareness and advocacy for empowering women in the world of architecture. It is expected that concrete actions will be enforced to ensure that women earn on par as men, do not suffer discrimination and are not looked down upon at the workplace.
Architecture will Become more Hands-on with Architects going onsite
Many architects feel strongly about the fact that their training at University level is still largely theoretical and the practical component is inadequate. This means that they are not equipped well enough to address practical challenges on-site, and cannot readily come up with alternative solutions to everyday problems – which are the need of the hour. This disconnect with the materialization of projects has resulted in finished projects that are less than optimal regarding adequate design thinking.
To foster out-of-the-box creativity, and teach a more hands-on approach, architects now believe that reconnecting with the site on a regular basis must become the center of practice. By working in collaboration with core construction teams, architects will get involved in the entire process and gain a comprehensive understanding of all aspects of the building.
As the internet and new technologies shrink the world, it is a given that the buildings of the future are going to be rich in technology. Already, premier office buildings boast of automated building operations like optimized HVAC systems that control factors like water flow and temperature controls. Smart building controls regulate the use of electricity, switching off power supply when offices are vacated. Mechanized sensors have great potential in the warehousing industry, remotely monitoring variables such as humidity, temperatures and light in a cooling or freezing system to optimize storage conditions. Wireless intrusion systems can enhance building protection to an unbelievable extent.
Architects have taken on the responsibility of creating built environments in which the experience of the inhabitants is rich and meaningful. Smart cities will factor in physical infrastructure, urban planning and living conditions to make intelligent decisions for the betterment of our lives…all of which will have a direct impact on the architecture of tomorrow’s world. With advancements in technologies like the Internet of Things (IoT) and Big Data harvesting happening at breakneck speed, the future is going to get a whole lot smarter.
The rural Architecture will be the New Consciousness
Ironically, while villages make up over 95% of the global communities, most architects up until now have been focussing their work on the cities of the world. With accelerated change expected in rural communities, architects must focus on creating better living conditions in these areas. By gaining a deeper understanding of their present ways of living and vernacular forms of architecture, architects can guide them through respectful interventions in the form of project developments that take their inspiration from the traditional vernacular architecture of these areas. There is a lot that the world needs to learn from vernacular forms of building, as it is far more sustainable than the steel and concrete masses that have become the norm in the cityscapes of today.
The Influence of Politics on Architecture
Architecture has always depended on the influence of politics, and with the dissonance between the geographies of the world today, this influence is only likely to increase. Political habits have a direct relation to social life, and consequently on buildings and urbanity. The ruling party of the day largely governs Urban laws on town planning and zoning and building regulations. Those who hold the reins of political power also determine the allocation of funding for architectural and town planning projects. Architects can be seen as creative people who push the boundaries of politics to achieve social needs; this process will undoubtedly have a significant influence on the future growth of our cities.
Social architecture is fast emerging as a foreseeable trend in building concepts and is a viable career path for architects who have an eye on social consciousness. Social architects believe that the fabric of society can be enhanced by consciously planning and creating spaces for social interactions to optimize human relationships and create the right social vibes. They combine thinking from political sciences, psychology, anthropology, and sociology and inter-related fields to design spaces that enhance the flow of desired human interactions.
This new approach to designing will be the defining paradigm in tomorrow’s architecture. Architecture can be effectively used as an instrument of social control, and by enhancing people’s abilities to communicate and interact within their built environments, human efficiency and productivity can be measurably increased.
Advancing Technologies in Graphic Representation
There is some seriously innovative thinking that is happening in the world of VR and immersive architecture. With radical advancements in computer graphics, headsets and HD projectors, futuristic graphics and tracking technology, we can now create incredibly interactive real-life experiences in conceptual design thinking. Customers all over the world will soon be able to immerse themselves in scale models using augmented reality that can be manipulated, and provide a real-life sense of presence in environments that are as yet unbuilt. Traditional Representation Models will soon be completely replaced by hyper-realistic imagery that is created using new-age digital tools.
The past decade has already seen the initialization of these trends, with path-breaking changes that have laid the foundation for a future where traditional concepts are shattered. Today’s projects are already answering the needs of the future, with innovative designs seeking to represent the architecture of tomorrow.
In the words of one of the greatest architects the world has ever seen, Frank Gehry “Architecture should speak of its time and place, but yearn for timelessness.” What makes Gehry such a visionary is that he has been able to anticipate and build for the needs of the future, and this makes his buildings very relevant and meaningful. Architects are required to be magical crystal ball gazers who can look ahead and foresee the needs of generations to come, and Gehry’s signature style exemplifies this.
Architecture, through the ages, has always been perceived as a changing and defining force in society. Today, we are in an exciting period of innovation and creation. The role of architects in the future is poised to be very different from what it is today, and at Rayvat Engineering we do welcome the change!