The architectural profession is centuries old when we look back at the history of civilizations and has always been an integral part in shaping the built environment of the society. Architects design in the present, with a knowledge of the past, for the future! (Which no one knows what it holds!) When people think of what the Future of Architecture would be like, a lot of different ideas and pictures cross our minds.
Various architects have different takes on the future of architecture – some architects think of it as going back to the traditional building materials and techniques, while some imagine architecture like the scenes straight up from a sci-fi movie – technologically advanced, automated, living and breathing architecture just like any other organism on the Earth.
The future of architecture can be imagined in a variety of ways and at various stages of design and implementation. There is, and will continue to be innovation in materials, tools, techniques, soft wares, technologies, and of course, the profession itself. It’s difficult to decipher what the future holds, but what we’re sure of is that the complexities in designing are surely increasing, as the world is progressing towards automation and advancement and more interconnectedness in society.
With globalization at its peak, there are issues like global warming, sustainability, inclusiveness, gender sensitivity, and the ability to adapt to the futuristic ideas – that need to be catered to, by the architects while designing. As Gottfried Bohm puts it, “I think the future of architecture does not lie so much in continuing to fill up the landscape, as in bringing back life and order to our cities and towns.”
Architectural Types in the Future
Architecture in the future will have aesthetic delight, functional creativity, and structural feasibility. It will be more inclusive – inclusive of various neglected groups of people, inclusive of the environmental concerns, inclusive of the surroundings, inclusive of its users and functions as a whole. It will have more adaptability towards new technologies and requirements and be transformative as per the client’s preference, age, and economic status.
There will be tiny homes like the Urban Cabin Micro Homes, green buildings like the Institute for Forestry and Nature Research Wageningen, modular architecture like the W350 project in Tokyo, repurposed architecture like using shipping containers to build tiny homes and homes for the poor, vertical cities like the Bosco Verticale, vertical farming like in The Farmhouse, tighter spaces and smarter buildings that will respond to senses.
Materials and the Future of Architecture
The materials now being used for construction are changing with time and the architects are moving more towards eco-friendly and sustainable materials – keeping in mind the environmental impacts of materials like concrete.
Some futuristic building materials that architects now prefer are:
- Newspaper wood – it helps in repurposing old newspapers and gives the look and feel of wood
- Glass – great for natural lighting and ventilation purposes and AI-powered glass screens.
- Reusable materials like plastic – to build lighter, less dense, and sometimes mimic the look of other materials
- Timber – is now finding purpose in place of concrete columns and beams
- Mushroom walls for insulation – great for human health when compared to asbestos
- Thermos bimetals – smart metals that act like human skin. This material is said to be designed by Doris Kim Sung – a biologist who works in architecture. It adapts to the weather and is capable of self-ventilating.
Different materials have influenced the cooling and heating of spaces throughout the history of architecture and these materials are the ones that will help architecture adapt to its future.
Technologies and the Future of Architecture
We now live in a globalized world which means there is more Interconnectivity than ever! The technologies and new scientific discoveries are being shared with the far end of the world. Architects now have several tools and technologies at their disposal, to design our future society with!
Some of these technologies include – Generative/computational design powered by Artificial Intelligence, BIM, and Virtual reality technology for architects to help design spaces better.
New technology has also started taking over the construction and the approval stage of architecture. We are now seeing the digitization of plan approvals and online submission of building construction documents. Once this is entirely digitized, there will be virtual plan checks and no room for human error in approvals.
3D printing technologies and precast construction, along with robotic technologies have enabled faster and more precise construction. This has given room for the architect to work more on smarter designs as the requirement list of clients has started becoming more sophisticated and more advanced. Parametric architecture and regenerative designs are also finding more importance in today’s world that is shaped by complexities and advancements.
Architectural Profession and Its Future
With the growing complexities in the order of work and emerging technologies, from conceptual thinking to actual construction on site, the architects have a lot to do. They have started focussing on one aspect rather than doing all the jobs end to end. Architects have chosen one best stream of work they’re the best at and working exclusively on that. They have bifurcated themselves into two different streams – design architects and construction architects.
The design architects focus on the conceptualization, brainstorming, and fun-art part of the project whereas the construction architects work on the construction details and the working drawings needed for the actual construction of the project. Prince-Ramus believes that architects are reducing themselves — to designers and stylists — from master builders.
Architects need to focus more on building a stronger community rather than dividing themselves and there is a need for more architects who can become developers – acting as a link between design architecture and structural development! This would help in bringing high value and give more importance to creativity in architectural designs.
Because when architects and project developers are separated – the project is given to the lowest bidder rather than to the one who is adding more creative and functional value to it. These financial and business values need to be taught in architecture schools so that the profession can keep up with the rapidly changing scenarios in the world and its value is not diminished.
The evolution of the practice of architecture has been relatively slow as compared to the pace at which the new technologies have evolved. The population rise and the environmental concerns have been and will continue to influence the parameters that architects need to consider while designing. Though these parameters influence the design of the structure, the core focus of architecture will always remain problem-solving – only in the future, the solutions will be more innovative and thrilling!
The future of architecture with all these new technologies and materials at the architect’s disposal will change the way architects traditionally design and the way these designs look. We may also be able to see the construction done more quickly and with more responsive architecture. The future of architecture does look a lot exciting! We can only gasp and skill up to see what’s to hold, in the future of architecture!