The Flintstones family and their lifestyle, even though portrayed in the stone age is probably much more in the distant future, maybe more than even the creators imagined being, than the Jetsons. Even though pop culture has been satirical about technology and the future while jostling with the present and past timeline, what the future holds for us could be beyond our wildest dreams. These characters and their lifestyles revolve around their environments and built spaces, which when translated to Architectural vocabulary, refers to the history and future of Architecture. On one hand, when the history has been quite well documented and encrypted to further analyze and understand the motive behind engineering Marvel’s present at the time, the future on the other hand seems much unpredictable. Would we be able to focus our efforts on sustainable living environments or radically change the built and unbuilt design concept into one that literally portrays futurism? One thing that’s for sure is that the pattern of repeating concrete boxes cannot be an alternative timeline of the future that has a happy ending.

Curiosity is the Mother of Invention 

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Bridging two town separated by cliffs_©willian-justen-de-vasconcellos

The evolution of dwellings or creations by humans of any kind has been tremendous. From simple nestled tree houses among the canopies to precisely engineered skyscrapers that rip through the clouds. This exponential scaled growth in the field of Architecture has been due to the focus on the material development, design techniques, and the never-ending curiosity that human brains process, to achieve feats that capture the imagination.  The driving force that has always catapulted man’s imagination is to test human capabilities, be it landing on the moon to building bridges that span miles.  But to make these visions into reality, like how every cell in the body has to carry out its function, the elements that use up the structure need to be chosen accurately and should work in complete harmony.

Material Development 

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“Petrified Carpets,” an exhibit by Studio Ossidiana at the 2016 Dutch Design Festival_© Kyoungtae Kim

Who would’ve thought that a spider’s web could be used in Architecture, who would’ve bet on it if someone said that the very same algae that we remove from our walls could be grown on outer envelopes of buildings to produce energy? Such has been the development and growth of Architecture, from firing mud blocks in kilns to make bricks that make up a wall, to those that absorb and prevent pollutants from entering inside the building. The modern materials in construction have been through careful research, analysis of drawbacks on specific attributes, and finding ways to overcome those challenges posed by its simpler predecessors. A lot has been done through attempts to mimic natural materials and ways of reverse engineering from the ecosystem. The future materials and construction techniques should always have an eye out for restoring the ecological equilibrium along with scaling new heights of technological advancements that always capture the curiosity of human beings.

Slightly Far-Fetched Visions?

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F.L.Wright’s Broadacre City Model _©

Having said all that, the world hasn’t hit the sci-fi futuristic Architectural realm, which is subject to a long list of movies or artwork in general. The fortune-tellers who foresaw flying cars in 2030 would probably hide behind the curtain with F.L Wright accompanying them holding on to his Broadacre model. Truth be told, floating cities and hovering cars seem to be further away from the near future. Even though the world has moved ahead in terms of technology, especially that contributes to built environments such as solar cells to power smart cities, shuttle services that run by itself and even traffic lights run by AI that help in road safety, there has always been a tendency in Architecture to learn from the old and not to forget the roots. As a matter of fact, much of the futuristic-looking creations are based on concepts that have been derived from ancient relics that have advanced so much so that, it is unrecognizable anymore.

Sustainability is Key

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When Technology meets sustainability at the Jewel Changi Airport by Moshe Safdie_©sam-balye

One basic concept that has found its way through necessity is that of sustainability. Be it ultra-modern smart cities or even an individual unit that runs by itself, the drive to stay functional for as long as possible would always be a key aspect of Architecture. The rise of sustainable capitalism, the approach to rate or categories effectiveness of building to cities, not just in terms of finances, but also in terms of social and ecological responses as Triple The bottom line also grows. This is an approach that could arguably be on a tightrope as it promotes the importance of ecological and social responsibility of built environments along with maximization of profits through enhanced capitalism. For starters, the basic idea could be to reduce the wastage of materials and judicial usage of them while being environmentally sensitive and providing good quality of life.

Not-To-Do List for the Future

Saturated Cities competing to Hold on_©jc-gellidon

It is probably guaranteed that unless and until further development occurs in the field of materials and technology in building construction, one that would take away the dominance of RCC framed structures or concrete in general, domino buildings that stack up till it reaches the very limit of the bearing soil, will continue to plague this earth. The lifespan of a building made with Concrete is said to be around 50 years, and there has been significant progress in the technology that would enable such structures to last even more. Even when developed countries seem to be moving away from this ecologically unsafe trend, the developing countries are almost as if they’re in an attempt to swarm the whole industry with it. 

Every time there’s news on climate change and ecological destruction, we must think back to the damage we’ve caused. To have a future, or to even think about the future, one where nature and humans still exist, and not just a pile of junk and AI robots reign on earth, we must be cautious of the way forward. To be fair, humans still need only the same requirement of spaces to habituate. But the levels of comfort and accessibility have changed drastically. As has the influence of technology on daily life, from temperature and mood sensitivity AI programmed sensors to Audio-visual systems that converse with you.


Darsan Babu, an architect, dreamer and a storyteller who loves to take on challenges and reform perspectives on some days, but sit by the mountain and quote words of Howard Roark on others. Would love to explore all things architecture, educate and shape the Urbanscape soon enough.