While there is mystified speculation about what the future of Architecture holds for society, there is a shapeless boundary surrounding the subject itself.
The driving factor for architecture has and always has been—Change. The first tier of this change starts with the Architecture firms. Broadly categorising, there are 3 kinds of Architecture firms that exist, one that is stable; one with growing opportunities; and firms that are at risk. One might question how the current working of firms affect future developments in Architecture?
Steady, stable firms have regular clients who have set a steady monotonous style which they continue to build on.
An Architecture firm with growing opportunities would have a faster pace of construction with a strict timeline to complete their projects, this would include large infrastructure projects, like roads, dams, housing, etc.
Then, there are firms that fail to keep up with the pace of projects and deadlines, and with a small, and limited clientele their growth rate is minimal.
In the current scenario, Architecture is at a halt having lived through the Covid-19 Pandemic. Re-evaluating the current trends and cruising through innovation is the way ahead. The time for doing things later is now, Risk is what will shape this industry in the coming years.
The first few words that pop into our minds when we think of the future are Flying cars, Tall skyscrapers and robots. But those are Utopian ideas of what Science fiction has painted on the canvas for us. Yes, automation in the industry will shape how we execute our designs on the ground. But the underlying question is how far are we planning to integrate automation into design thinking and complete execution? Would this bring an end to the profession?
Renewed role of an Architect
Brandon Donnelly, an architect turned real estate developer, believes that architects must become owners, not in the most literal sense, rather they must be in a position to take complete responsibility ranging from designing, execution and being liable for any. Many real estate firms and developers do not have an in-house architecture team, they usually outsource professionals. Architects as individuals need to go beyond just designing and styling and get more involved in the building process on the whole.
Integrating a financial model with multiple shareholders into the design framework will ensure a secured guarantee of the building, its maintenance, renovation and retrofitting. This allows the architect and developer to work hand in glove for future transformation on internal or external spaces to accommodate the need of the time. Production and construction are activities that can be carried out, within a set time and economic budget, whereas designing and development are of greater value and human-centric.
One way of bridging this gap between designing and the development process is to adopt Modern Methods of Construction. These are a series of methods developed within the construction industry to ensure proper planning and design for every project, that eventually reduces construction time and cost while maintaining overall sustainability.
Prefabrication, Panelised systems, Factory assembled pods, Volumetric construction (3d units) are a few types of methods that keep up with tight timelines and can absorb creative planning into it.
Sustainability a way forward?
The biggest challenge for the 21st century has been the long-term damaging effects of the Industrial revolution. From large-scale production and fabrication to over-using of materials and wastage, little mercy has been shown towards our planet, The Earth. Right from huge landfills to contaminating our oceans with industrial waste, the industry needs a huge wake-up call for some mindful, yet necessary changes towards sustainability.
The goal of sustainability is being self-reliant and leaving a small carbon footprint. With more and more cities adopting Vertical construction, a renewed conscience has been developed where sustainable buildings are becoming the nodal centres of renewable energy. By creating a power grid within its four walls, there is more freedom to experiment with sustainable materials and utility of spaces around the powerhouse.
Examples of Sustainable architecture in the future include:
- Sustainable Circular Taiwan Tower- designed by STL Architects where the building can resist strong winds and eliminate the need for mechanical heating and cooling of the building.
- Rotterdam’s Floating Pavilion- designed by Delta Sync Company, a mobile spherical structure made of ETFE of 12m in height aims to get rid of the tension of rising sea levels, without the structure drowning.
- The Solar Plaza Fargo- built on a sprawling site area of 90,000 sq. ft in North Dakota has a large solar panel surface in it that’s covered by a glass layer. It is capable of producing 70,000kWh units per month which totals to 850,000kWh units per year which is around half of the total requirement of the project.
Sustainable practices, although are emerging as a side effect of rapid climate change, can merge with environmental innovations connecting the purpose of shelter with nature as one entity in the near future?
Is the Past hinting at us towards Utopia?
The idea of transformation of spaces is not new. It has been a cyclic process adopted by our ancestors since the Stone Age. From building huts to large human settlements communities have always been an active part of the construction process. Embracing temporariness within the built-environment can increase the utility of space, at different times during the day opening up doors to modifications and change.
U-Build, developed by Studio Bark is a modular wooden construction company that enables communities and individuals to build their own houses. They believe in easy accessibility and ensure a self-building experience for individuals. Using parametric design software to enable complex designs using simple components using CNC. The idea behind this kind of construction is that each component of the whole can be taken apart. It doesn’t have to be able to be a permanent structure.
Their goal is not to replace the existing design community; instead, it is to get the community involved with space-making and upgrading the significance of a single block within the structure.
The future, at a Glance
Today’s manifestation of current styles of Architectural practice needs an upgrade from conventional procedures of approach and execution. But most importantly firms around the world need to take up ownership of the entire project from scratch. Perhaps the future of architecture lies not in current trends rather an anticipated projection of what was envisioned by architects and artists in the past. This could be what the circle of life is all about, a more advanced version of a futile reality being brought to existence.
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