One of the most thought-provoking notions about time is that it is temporal and constant at the same time, scilicet, the temporality of time is constant and that is why change is constant. Though in the very nature of its being it is temporal- but the kind of impact it makes can be perpetual and in consequence, change with change becomes a necessity. Built-environment and its form Building the Future act as a dominant context in this changing time of Earth. Because the change in time brings along new-fangled problems, justice to which can’t be done by similar repetitive solutions. 

But as they say – “there is nothing new under the sun”; the future is based on the past, and if the design is considered as the act of solving problems, then the future of architecture will have to simultaneously move forward and backwards in time.

Issue at Hand | Building the Future

Under the effect of modernity and development, metropolitan cities appear to offer better opportunities for livelihoods, and hence, a better life quality to their various inhabitants. With similar aspirations, scores of people migrate from rural to urban areas daily, rapidly increasing the population of urban areas. This becomes the cause behind the rapid expansion of boundaries in these cities. 

Within these marginal expansions, emerging physical infrastructure becomes one, but crucial subset of the urban activities. Meanwhile, this physical infrastructure seems to signify growth but they also result in severe aftereffects.  Studies show that urban activities constitute about 80 per cent of anthropogenic carbon dioxide emissions produced globally each year (UNEP/UN-HABITAT, 2005). 

But as there is an effect to every cause, these urban centres become the most vulnerable sites to the various risks of global warming through different mediums, be it sea level rise, change in temperature, or uncertain weather conditions. The crisis of climate change dramatically defines and determines the future of building design. 

Environmental and social changes are linked to each other and building as a system can be counted under both of them. In that case, it becomes necessary for cities to invest in climate-proofing infrastructure, otherwise, cities may struggle to maintain a viable balance between the environmental and social aspects.

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Submerging Earth _© IT Briefs

Domination Cycle 

One of the most prominent problems associated with modernity is that it constantly draws the distinction between objects of similar context systems, like mind from body, humanity from nature, and built from the environment. The idea that buildings act as a separate layer from its surrounding and their perception as an entity of their own is the very problem of the current issue at hand. 

The distinction humans draw from the external natural world from themselves entails a denial of internal nature, as a means to have control over nature. Continuous use and re-use of the environment with a belief that it is the resource in abundance is not only the problem, but the uneven distribution of the environment is also one of the most significant parts of the issue. 

Modernity, despite its progress in science, has the potential to destroy the environment; and the inability to control technology has a high dehumanizing tendency. Technology provides predictability which is a type of power to control nature, but this ideology of considering nature as a never-ending box of resources, which doesn’t have the audacity to affect and disturb human life is an evident myth now.   

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Steps of power _© South China Morning Post 

As Carolyn Merchant says – “Pollution goes hand in hand with poverty, deteriorating buildings, poor schools, and inadequate healthcare, and is reinforced by government neglect.” (Merchant, C. Ecology: Key Concepts in Critical Theory, 2007). 

Not only would making environmentally sustainable buildings and controlling techniques be enough for the crisis threat but a larger vision of human-to-human connectedness and human-to-nature connectedness is required. A larger involvement with the community to integrate policies that can resolve needs, demands, and calamities is needed to make the system work. Because in the human-nature cycle, domination has been used as a defining concept, but who dominates who is a substantial uncertainty of time. 

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KMC Corporate Office _© RMA Architects

Opportunities and Challenges 

Climate change offers new opportunities and challenges within the field of Design and Architecture. It becomes one of the essential factors that have to be considered beforehand, within the whole process of building. Socioecological and adaptive capacity in response to the new urban exposures and vulnerabilities turns out to be the need of the hour. 

Based on the shared responsibility of the environment, climate policy can be integrated through the interdisciplinary activity that cuts across the political, technical, and design dimensions. The system of cities addressing climate change requires a framework that makes connections between design, technology, and the environment. 

If the future of architecture can move forward and backwards simultaneously, that is, a combination of knowledge where vernacular techniques, materials, and making can be merged with current technology, it can be used to better visualize and analyze the implications of the design solution. A bridge is required to link sustainability, design, and technology beyond the limits of categorization within various disciplines, and that is what Architects will build in the coming time.

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Community Planning Process _© Community

The approaching era | Building the Future

Within the given set of conditions, the future of Architecture has to be sustainable. Since there is no alternative to it, energy-efficient buildings with consideration to the place, people, and site where processes of adaptive reuse become a regular practice. A reality where the future will be a combination of past and then’s present. But with this, the involvement of the larger community to fight issues of poverty, gender, race are required. 

Since, even if the entire city’s architecture is made sustainable, true change can only happen if the people come out of their vulnerabilities, owing to the previously stated declaration, social and environmental challenges go hand in hand.  


An Architecture and Design student, Aastha spends most her time studying fascinating architectural spaces. Every building tells a story, she says. When she's not reading about them, she's asking existential questions on pretty much everything. Life, Time and evenTruth. You name it.