“Every great architect is necessarily a great poet. He must be a great original interpreter of his time, his day, his age.” -Frank Llyod Wright

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The 21st century is experiencing an unprecedented rate of change at an accelerated pace and architecture is no exception to that. Architects aspire to build timeless, enduring and inspirational architectural marvels marking a unique identity. The available tools assist the process right from conceptualization to execution during the period. But with the rapid changes in technology and arrival of avant-garde concepts, the door to a wide range of unfathomable designs in the field of architecture has opened up. This makes us ask the inevitable question: ‘What will the future of architecture look like?’

Here are three such concepts that will shape the future of architecture.

  1. Technology
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Architecture and technology have always intertwined at vulnerable crossroads. The dawn of the new era of technology has brought with it a number of fresh, unconventional ideas. Today, everything from designing and digital drawing to construction and its supervision is becoming easier with improved efficiency. 

Hence, in future, the role of architects may be very different from what we recognize today. It would be more to do with collaborative innovation rather than just production.

  1. VIRTUAL REALITY
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Virtual reality refers to three-dimensional computer-simulated experience, which may or may not be a real-world occurrence. Imagine an artificial world where we can observe and interact with the virtual environment through our senses. But how will this help the architectural community?

We all know how challenging it can get while conveying ideas or designs to clients through two-dimensional drawings. Virtual reality offers architects an exciting, dynamic way to collaborate with each other and the various stakeholders of the project and eliminates any disconnect between them. With the assistance of several BIM softwares and rendering engines, users can put on a headset and walk through projects that are yet to be built, sometimes reaching out to touch objects, engaging them in the design process.

Transporting users to an alternate world is what helps to sell an idea. Other benefits of VR include cost-effectiveness, avoiding redos due to improved planning and easy anticipation and resolution of problems. So what’s there to think about…go ahead and give it a try!

  1. 3D PRINTING

World’s first 3D-printed office building completed in Dubai 

Well, we all know what printing means. But what is this 3D printing that many are talking about? Three-dimensional (3D) printing is an additive manufacturing process that creates a physical object from a digital design. The process involves laying down thin layers of material in the form of liquid or plastic, metal or cement, and then fusing the layers together to create objects varying in their physical properties like size, shape, colour or rigidity.

Talking about its use in architecture, most projects start with a concept model. Model making is a time-consuming process and becomes tedious when the model involves intricate geometries. But with the use of 3D printers, this process becomes faster, customizable and versatile as it allows quick fixes.

Moving on, this technology is no longer restricted to developing smaller objects and is reaching out for more extensive and complex building construction projects. The idea of 3D- printing of structures right from the foundations to the roofing tiles with any desirable material is no more a dream but a reality. These results have been so promising that institutions like NASA are devising ways to use 3D printing to build habitable structures on the Moon or Mars. Advantages like time, money and labour saving are a cherry on top.

  1. Sustainability

Bank of America Tower at One Bryant Park, New York

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Sustainable architecture holds the key to an environmentally positive future. But the question that befalls most of us is, ‘what does sustainable architecture actually mean?’ and ‘Does sustainable imply having green elements? I think the word ‘sustainable’ is quite self-explanatory. It means the ability to sustain itself, negating strain on the earth’s resources through skillful and sensitive design techniques. 

The aim is to minimize physical waste as well as energy loss by creating a facility where no resource leaves the building and energy is reproduced and reused within the building. This method takes a considerable amount of pressure off of the city’s resources.  

For example, the Bank of America Tower at One Bryant Park is the greenest skyscraper in the city, possibly the world. Architects and other professionals have made an effort to collect the otherwise wasted rainwater and use it for various functions such as flushing toilets, irrigating plants, etc. The greywater treatment aids the tower for cooling and most importantly, to complete nature’s cycle by returning water in vapor form. The natural gas-fired cogeneration plant on site takes care of 2/3rd of the building’s energy demand, laying focus on the concept of a decentralized energy grid. 

The building has further undergone a thoughtful material selection process that has improved air quality, natural lighting through the building’s envelope, cost-effectiveness, etc. The reason for choosing this example was to put forth the idea that going green does not only mean having green elements but has a broader significance.

The demand graph for a sustainable lifestyle is on an upward incline. Cities are trying to find strategies to create environmentally friendly communities. Here is our time to shine as creative thinkers to find solutions through architecture and design. 

  1. Design for and by the Public
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Here, I would like to discuss two upcoming concepts: 

1) What are the Internet of Things and Big Data? And 

2) What is Blockchain and how does it aid architecture?

By definition, The Internet of things (IoT) describes the network of physical objects or “things” or entities embedded with sensors, software, and other technologies to connect and exchange data with other devices and systems over the Internet. This collected data is what we call ‘Big Data’. So, where does this data come from? 

Everything we do today, right from appliances we use to things we search or post on social media platforms, is a form of data that allows algorithms to analyze individual preferences, their social behaviour, and their physical space. Governments and urban planners can further utilize this cumulative data to identify problem areas then address the issue through appropriate planning and design spaces with infrastructure catering to the user needs.     

Speaking about user needs, who knows the user better than themselves. So why not consider the public to be a partner in architecture. In such a situation, a statement by Ole Bouman holds true. “Architecture is […] too important to leave solely to architects. We can all be designers.”

Blockchain is essentially a decentralized, shared public ledger containing a record of all activity that occurred on the network in chronological order. Data or Block on the chain can be accessed by anyone who uses the specific network but cannot modify existing data and only add to it with unanimity. Primarily, this system will encourage public participation in the design process by sharing their opinions to the extent of becoming a shareholder in the built environment. This would allow for a more collaborative approach between the stakeholders. i.e., the masses, investors and designers. Enabling architects to initiate projects aided by crowdfunding blurring the traditional client-architect relation is a dream come true.

References

  • TMD STUDIO (2017). Emerging Trends That Will Shape the Future of Architecture. [online]. (Last updated 7 January 2017). Available at: https://medium.com/studiotmd/emerging-trends-that-will-shape-the-future-of-architecture-356ba3e7f910 [Accessed 20 April 2021].
  • TMD STUDIO (2017). Designing With Data. [online]. (Last updated 13 February 2017). Available at: https://medium.com/studiotmd/designing-with-data-8fd73345afb8 [Accessed 20 April 2021].
  • TMD STUDIO (2017). Dawn of a ‘Smart’ Era. [online]. (Last updated 25 March 2017). Available at: https://medium.com/studiotmd/dawn-of-a-smart-era-ea2fd59bb4f4 [Accessed 20 April 2021].
  • TMD STUDIO (2017). Virtual Reality Uses in Architecture and Design. [online]. (Last updated 21 January 2017). Available at: https://medium.com/studiotmd/virtual-reality-uses-in-architecture-and-design-c5d54b7c1e89 [Accessed 20 April 2021].
  • By Ricardo Álvarez-Díaz (2017). HOW TECHNOLOGY IS TRANSFORMING ARCHITECTURAL DESIGN. [online]. (Last updated 30 August 2017). Available at: https://www.alvarezdiazvillalon.com/how-technology-is-transforming-architectural-design/ [Accessed 20 April 2021].
  • By Designblendz Team (2020). 3 MAJOR TECHNOLOGY ADVANCEMENTS CHANGING ARCHITECTURE. [online]. (Last updated 15 September 2020). Available at: https://www.designblendz.com/blog/the-power-of-technology-in-architecture-today [Accessed 20 April 2021].
  • By HK Interiors (2021). Green vs. Sustainable: Understanding the Difference. [online]. (Last updated 2021). Available at: https://www.hkinteriors.com/green-vs-sustainable/ [Accessed 20 April 2021].
  • INTERCON (2009). Green Buildings: One Bryant Park. [online]. (Last updated 14 May 2009). Available at: https://intercongreen.com/2009/05/14/green-buildings-one-bryant-park/ [Accessed 20 April 2021].
  • By Grace Ellis (2020). Going Green: Transitioning to Sustainable Construction. [online]. (Last updated 2 March 2020). Available at: https://constructionblog.autodesk.com/green-construction/ [Accessed 20 April 2021].
  • By Olivia Hooper (2020). 3D Printing and Architecture. [online]. (Last updated 5 May 2020). Available at: https://www.machinedesign.com/3d-printing-cad/article/21130574/3d-printing-and-architecture [Accessed 20 April 2021].
  • By Christele Harrouk (2021). “As Long as There Are Human Beings and their Challenges, There Will Be Architecture”: In Conversation with Ole Bouman. [online]. (Last updated 9 April 2021). Available at: https://www.archdaily.com/959771/as-long-as-there-are-human-beings-and-their-challenges-there-will-be-architecture-in-conversation-with-ole-bouman?ad_medium=gallery [Accessed 20 April 2021].
Author

Shruti is an architecture student who believes architecture is not limited to the art of creating spaces but is a profound way of influencing the lives of those within and around. An ambivert by nature, she dwells in the reverie of her thoughts waiting to be penned. She often enjoys binge-watching, sleeping and a spirited dance to some good music.

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