“We live in a universe whose age we can’t quite compute, surrounded by stars whose distances we don’t altogether know, filled with matter we can’t identify, operating in conformance with physical laws whose properties we don’t truly understand.” -Bill Bryson
It is fascinating to analyze how the world has transformed from a mass of land and water to these bewildering cities and towns we dwell in today. It’s hard to conceive how exactly prehistoric cultures would have functioned, though sociology, history, and architecture collaboratively help us envisage the world that existed before us. It’s intriguing to envision what and how exactly we shall be living tomorrow.
From the lens of architecture, cities had always carried firm depictions/symbolism of the political or social setting entailed by that region. Kingdoms have found in gigantic structures a powerful reflection of their might while villagers found in their humble dwellings, hands-on use of naturally available materials. In the post-industrial era, vertical structures found their demand as steel and concrete popularized. Thereby, technology found its force to represent societies.
Architects have since long delivered these wish images for what we are or who we shall become. It had the vision to see alternative worlds while daring to challenge preconceived notions. But chiefly, it has been an alliance to physically articulate a nation’s vision, which brings us to the contemplative quest of this article: What do we as a global community envision for our world and hence, What drives the Architecture of Tomorrow?
Demands of Today
We are fairly aware of how humanity’s ecological footprint has outgrown our planet’s ability to support us. Our Cities have been continuously expanding, as more people migrate within and beyond domestic boundaries for better infrastructural opportunities and living. With the current urbanization pattern, it’s easy to quote that: Every city was once a village and every village shall become a city.
This doesn’t only necessarily indicate a positive growth but raises concern over the rate of land exhaustion, encroachment of protected zones, preservation of cultural and ethnic diversities, pressure on urban amenities, and overall sustainability of the process.
Issues like Gentrification and its impact on the community on an equal scale are also being weighed by researchers. The term Global Warming that we came across first in our school textbooks remains an ever-growing climatic concern that the global community is looking to seek a solution for. Our technological advancements have brought us far into an exemplary model of the world we desired but the rate of our dependency and utilization of the sourced energy, whether it can suffice to maintain the luxury we cherish today, that deserves thought, right?
Our experience of the pandemic has brought before us learning for rapid pace development, emergency architecture, and overall flexibility of design modules. Where Economics has become a driving dynamic of our progress, the world desires innovative models that uplift communities equitably, generate a better economic response, and upgrade lifestyle at both individual and national levels. In response to these challenges, how will cities of the future create sufficient spaces to live, play, work, consume, socialize, travel dealing with essentialities like access to water, climatic sustainability, biodiversity, social integration, inclusivity, infrastructure and mobility, food and security, it’s here where the vision of future architecture lies.
This sure doesn’t defy or homogenize the range of creative designs architecture beholds. It’s as they say if you don’t have different narrators, you shall have a single narrative, and architecture wasn’t born to be repetitive. Architecture could be based around any realm- skyscrapers, vernacular, parametric to something straight out of a sci-fi movie but Architects’ vision has to be realized within these competing constraints.
Vision for Tomorrow
With such challenging constraints that exist in our invisible briefs of designing, we might feel a bit jittery about how to proceed. Well! Here are some of the inspiring design models and theories that reflect the right vision for tomorrow.
Sustainable architecture designs and constructs buildings with objectives of minimizing environmental impact, greater energy efficiency, efficient material choices, and a consequent positive impact on well-being and improved liveability for inhabitants. Sustainable standards are being popularly written into building codes across various countries to attain a future architectural practice that is more resource-conscious than the former.
This design theory has prompted designers and masses the idea of environmentally responsible construction and living. Its influence is growing from an optional to an essential concept as remarkable projects in the genre inspire and educate the world.
Adaptation of the Biophilic Design concept is on an influencing run as awareness of the current architecture issues associated with human healthcare keeps increasing. This design theory argues that humans have an innate affinity towards nature and the integration of natural elements in spaces positively affects people’s perception and experience of space. From living walls to Hydroponic supported vertical gardens, this scheme explores and inspires a new perspective on technology.
The concept isn’t completely novel but shares roots with many traditional planning styles of ancient cities. With rapid urbanization, the building community has probably realized the diminishing possibilities of creating stand-alone, single-purpose structures. As such, new development projects have started to emerge in cities where several ventures-housing, commercial, cultural, lightweight industry, infrastructural and institutional are clubbed together in single schemes.
The mixed-use building not only judiciously utilizes resources and precious space, but also provides city inhabitants with neighbourhoods that integrate recreation, market opportunities, utilities, consumer good procurement all in walkable distances, supporting the idea of pedestrianized neighbourhoods. The practices also carve out a possibility for planners to flexibly adapt buildings for future use.
Adaptive reuse binds a practice of repurposing and regeneration of buildings that have outlived their original intents for different use or functions while retaining their prevalent features. As times change, the purpose and demand of the type of space required for the community vary. This often winds up in exploiting green patches of land for new construction while reducing the redundant to dead city spaces.
The idea of adaptive reuse tries to accommodate new into the existing, popularizing the thought of renovation over reconstruction.
Norman Foster once said: “Architecture is an expression of values”. What values do you perceive for future architecture?