“Architecture should speak of its time and place, but yearn for timelessness” – Frank Gehry
Our built environment behaves like a living organism that evolves with every passing moment and ages to perfection. This process of evolution derives its genes from the past to function efficiently in the current context. But the advancement of architecture is a process of immense research in multiple arenas- demographics, environmental changes, the human psyche, technology, and certainly, building materials and construction, not just in the present but in the days to come. Although the progression of our spaces strikes a chord in designers, the overall knowledge of this timeline is still in the dark. The full-fledged attempt at shaping this minimal knowledge into everything that would surround us for the next few centuries is the greatest task that architects have been handed today.
The Future of Urban Habitats
With 68% of the world population anticipated to live in urban areas by 2050, it is evident that cities would become the pivot of coexistence. But the mere construction of catacombs of survival would not solve the upcoming crisis brought about by overpopulated metropolises. The realization of the harm caused by human improvidence and impoverished productiveness sparked the birth of Smart Cities. This sustainable form of urban development focuses on creating resilient habitats through the use of renewable energy and efficient use of resources. The cities thus formed would transform the functioning of its inhabitants entirely in terms of social, economic, and ecological advancement. With depleting resources and reduction in the standard of living, the future of our society lies in the use of renewable energy, minimal use of abiotic resources, biophilic integration, and an increase in healthier public and private spaces.
Although our current model of development has an affiliation towards the function of the constructed spaces, the advancement of smart cities relies on the future growth of the community. Individual edifices have begun to focus on reconnecting with all living organisms which inhabit or surround the structure. This has major ecological and psychological impacts, thereby improving human productivity, community behavior, environmental growth, and the overall quality of life. Furthermore, the expansion of cities would eventually lead to the disappearance of rural areas leading to the integration of rudimentary production activities into the urban fabric. This hybrid community will now function as a hub of resilience which amalgamates ecology, sociology, and technology into one cohesive unit.
As we picture the future world, our most instantaneous response is to view a society that has been engulfed by high-tech devices with the added convenience of automation. We stand amid the age where all our societal development is being directed by Big Data. It has become a crucial part of our attempt at understanding every aspect of human activity, environmental growth, and their projected variations. Big Data is extremely impactful in providing information on human cognitive activities, ecological changes through any given time frame, growth in terms of dimension and demographic of coexisting organisms, and human behavioral patterns in multiple sectors such as commerce, healthcare, media, education, etc. This knowledge can eventually be translated into the design of built environments which would resonate with every fragment of the timeline it would exist in.
With the development of better technology in terms of modes of designing and presentation, the field of vision of the designers as well as the consumers has expanded to a much greater extent. Parametric design, through advanced Building Interface Model (BIM) and geometric programming languages, has revolutionized the way we envision, design, and construct our structures. Complicated edifices can be conceptualized at ease through parametric modeling software and the further construction of these buildings would be governed by architectural robotic engineering, prefabrication of structural elements, and 3D printing forms. The final product of the collective working of this hardware and software is the creation of nearly flawless communities, free from the restrictions caused by human inabilities or errors.
Form and Space
The demand for space is constantly rising with the increase in the human population and their associated activities. Empty plots and green spaces are almost instantly encroached by concrete and metal boxes to accommodate multiple services. To meet this demand, the development of vertical environments and shared economical spaces would rule our future cities. These spaces would not just meet the basic functional requirements, but would also focus on sustainably amalgamating the natural environment into its limited acreage.
A deeper analysis of human psychology has been able to decode the need for interpersonal connections in our built environments. This would lead to the design of spaces that are more inclusive rather than private. The inclusive nature of spaces is not merely persuading interaction between individuals, but the necessity of the involvement of all people in the space without any restrictions caused by inequity due to cognitive disabilities, race, sex, economic background, or even age. Our future cities would be havens of coexistence, which takes all living organisms into account to develop forms and spaces which flow into one another, creating seamlessly interconnected built and natural environments.
The Pandemic Deviation
The bizarre nature of the past year has left architects and designers perplexed and hungry for a chance at innovation to ease the new normalcy upon the general public. Expanding our pre-built spaces has been the greatest challenge of this decade. Although new ideas are constantly pouring in, a substantial solution is still in progress. Architects are now collaborating with experts in multiple fields to develop spaces that can withstand any future pandemic. Buildings would focus on spontaneous social distancing, improving spatial hygiene through natural and artificial methods, creating psychologically uplifting environments to support mental health during a time of crisis, producing flexibility in spatial usage, and at the same time avoid the disruption of regular social interactions.
A Rather Diverse Future
The future of our built environment would take form under the governance of human experiences and the preservation of the planet. Architecture would eventually become the melting point of technology and nature which would condense into interconnected resilient micro-cities. The design would no longer be considered as an expression of art and aesthetics, but a way of shaping the planet in a manner that would allow all its organisms to coexist and evolve beneficially. The fingertips of architects today hold the gateway towards the future existence of every entity on this ground.
“As an architect, you design for the present, with an awareness of the past for a future which is essentially unknown” – Norman Foster
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