The future as we think is very improbable and stretched. Just like the pandemic, there are many things that we are uncertain of today, which might occur in the future. Numerous ideas and experiments are being performed every day to see how lives and survival would end up in the future; if it will be sustainable or if our lives will be entirely dependent on technology and fabrications, will increasing global warming have adverse effects on the way we live. The questions, conclusions, and iterations are endless. As we look at the times we live in, we are privileged to be surrounded with observations and demonstrations of science, technology, and inventions, which open us to a vast world of possibilities, assisting us in living our lives efficiently and re-thinking how we go about our lives, not just every day but also in the future.

Rethinking The Future Awards 2022
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Silk Pavilion by Neri Oxman with Mediated Matter Group is an excellent example of Architecture combining science and nature._© https://www.larchitecturedaujourdhui.fr/the-architect-neri-oxman/?lang=en

What will form the alternations of architecture post-pandemic?

“Quarantine turns us into explorers of the familiar” 

The New Yorker 

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Superstructure Home-Office was an initiative and an open call on social media by Florian Bengert, KooZA/rch. The idea was to denote how the workspaces, due to the pandemic have merged into ‘living’ spaces creating a space open to user interpretation._© http://www.koozarch.com/abstractions/superstructure-home-office/

With the pandemic nearly ceasing our outdoor movement, there was a sharp increase in internal movement observed dominated by strong external conditions; be it work from home or exercising in our rooms, or simply walking into our balconies. The idea of spaces and margins changed. The functions, programs, and domains of spaces and architecture evolved. Now, the fear of contamination controls what kind of spaces we want to be in. During quarantine, we were asked to stay inside our houses, our “safe spaces”, to remain cautious. Wide-open spaces were avoided and barriers became subtle assistance. Stores, offices, and public spaces were restructured to remain functional and not cause harm or damage, our spatial routines changed. We have a responsibility for the future now. 

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Illustration by Emma Roulette_© https://www.newyorker.com/culture/dept-of-design/how-the-coronavirus-will-reshape-architecture

Quarantine pushed the non-essential workers in spaces of their house that limited them to perform the bare minimum. It restricted their activities and forced them to think of the details of the space they inhabited. Spending a great deal of time in one space might require an environment that transposes quickly to meet our “moods”. A lack of adaptability of the space or a chance to move to a different space is harder to bear when spaces like cafes, bars, and even grocery stores can’t offer an escape. There is always a lot to notice in the precision of a single specific space or form of architecture, be it public like public squares, boulevards, and plazas, or private like our rooms. This will help us appreciate local and regional in different ways, which in turn will positively influence the global experience when we get back to the exteriors.

Future of Digital Fabrication in Architecture 

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Fiberbot Installation by Neri Oxman with Mediated Matter Group is an example of rapid building of high strength structures. The material used for this installation is fiberglass, which was winded together to form self-supporting composite tubes_© https://www.dezeen.com/2018/10/05/neri-oxman-fiberbots-mediated-matter-lab-mit-architectural-structures/

Architecture is often treated as an incessant static entity, an object that is going to be portrayed for a long time, which might or might not be under active usage. Whereas a user of architecture and the mechanics and sciences under usage are entities that are under constant unpredictability and fluidity. Today, technology allows us to create and customize spaces and architecture based on our needs and choices. But still, the spaces created are analogous and constant. This is leading to increasing contrast between the users and the design; meaning, the user is assigned a standard space whose design is governed by external factors like cost, the convenience of assembly and fabrication, and regulations. 

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So how can digital fabrication help in creating spaces and architecture that respond to individual needs and desires? How can it result in structures that could be moulded and used as per independent user interpretation? And how at the same time, it is not violating the norms of nature remain in harmony with the environment?

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CNC Milling (Subtractive Manufacturing) on wood and 3D printing (Additive Manufacturing) using plastic filament_© https://www.shutterstock.com/video/clip-1028239421-closeup-wood-milling-on-modern-automatic-woodworking
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CNC Milling (Subtractive Manufacturing) on wood and 3D printing (Additive Manufacturing) using plastic filament_© https://www.archdaily.com/926587/layered-architecture-what-is-additive-manufacturing

Digital fabrication includes any manufacturing processes controlled by computers. For broader categorization, it is of three types: Additive Manufacturing (3DPrinting), Subtractive Manufacturing (CNC Milling, Laser Cutting), and Robotic Manipulation (Techniques like 3D printing are incorporated in robots that construct structural elements). Although technology and applications of digital fabrication are advancing slower than expected, even smaller conquests like an entire 3D Printed House matter. Digital fabrication is adopted in industrial manufacturing and it holds great potential for automation of construction processes. For example, a robot arm putting up bricks thrice the speed of a human being. 

Digital fabrication in the future would not just be another tool to mass produce structural elements, it will be a tool that opens doors to new aesthetics, a tool to optimize form and material usage, a tool for developing new and advanced materials, a tool to create frameworks for open-source designs and so much more. 

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And beyond…

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Proposal for Plug-in City by Archigram from 1964_© https://www.archdaily.com/399329/ad-classics-the-plug-in-city-peter-cook-archigram

Future as imagined by the Archigram, consisted of elements like Plug-in cities, Walking cities, and Individual Living Pods. Though all these proposals and designs were abstract and conceptual, they formed the foundation for future architecture and design movements, instances of which are evident in structures that exist today and are under active usage. This proves the fact that the future of architecture is fluid in all manners, it might not be something practical but it forms the basis for something practical. Here are a few ideas and concepts that might just change the way we would live in the future.

  • Colonization of other planets and even galaxies 
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Artist’s impression of a city on Mars, which SpaceX wants to help establish with is Starship transportation system_© SpaceX

Earth, as we consider it, is going through a downright desolation due to its ever-increasing population, constant increase in levels of harmful toxic gases, and many more perpetual rationales. The urge of changing the planet as a whole is an idea that’s been spurting around for a few decades. The idea of colonizing Mars or planets beyond our first port of call. With advancing technologies and discoveries on foreign lands, the vision of the future is inclining more towards science facts rather than science fiction.

  • Space Tourism 
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First Space Hotel named “Voyager Station” set to open in 2027_© https://www.dezeen.com/2021/03/09/space-hotel-voyager-station-gateway-foundation/

With the increasing theories on settling and planning an entire city on an estranged planet, there was also one more theory that stood out; Space tourism. Sure, continental tourism is a wonderful getaway, but what if one was given a chance of observing our planet from space? Architecture plays an important role here in not just designing the spacecraft but also in planning the structures that would sustain and survive in space. Though the proposal might sound too advanced, there already have been talks on the launch of the first space hotel in 2027.

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  • Flying cars 
Flying car have been legalized on streets of Holland_© https://singularityhub.com/2020/10/29/the-worlds-first-commercial-flying-car-is-hitting-roads-in-holland/

Though this idea has been in the talks for decades and invents of technology, and thousands of experiments and demonstrations have been thought and work through, yet no successful and efficient design makes its way towards success. This idea was a response to increasing traffic and vehicular congestion on roads, and to decongest the roads the vehicular congestion was proposed to flow in Z-axis. Though this movement in the z-axis is just not restricted to vehicles, there was a proposal or individual jetpacks too which could be used by humans.

References and citations: 

  • ONLINE MAGAZINES: 
  1. Surface Magazine – Neri Oxman and Sir Norman Foster on the future of Design by Ryan Waddoups (March 2020) Available at: https://www.surfacemag.com/articles/neri-oxman-moma-exhibition-norman-foster/ [Accessed: 28th May 2021] 
  2. The New Yorker – How corona virus will reshape architecture by Kyle Chayka (June 2020) Available at: https://www.newyorker.com/culture/dept-of-design/how-the-coronavirus-will-reshape-architecture [Accessed: 30th May 2021] 
  • ONLINE SOURCES: 
  1. Archdaily – AD Classic: The Plug-In City/ Peter Cook, Archigram by Gili Merin – Available at: https://www.archdaily.com/399329/ad-classics-the-plug-in-city-peter-cook-archigram  [Accessed: 30th May 2021] 
  • VISUAL MEDIA: 
  1.  TED x Talks (2021), Biophilia, the future of architecture | Matthias Olt | TEDxSeattle [YouTube Video], Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x0MnGZ1gB4k&t=404s [Accessed: 25th May 2021] 
  2. RIBA Architecture – Rethinking workplace design, post-pandemic – Nicola Gillen, architect and author (Jan 2021) [YouTube Video], Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uwbe31ZxQCc [Accessed: 25th May 2021] 
Author

Janvi is a fourth year architecture student from BSSA, NMIMS. Research and details is what she believes in apart from travelling and capturing the ‘raw’. She is fond of discovering the undiscovered, be it in the form of an artwork or an old Irani cafe blocked between buildings from vintage.

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Rethinking The Future Awards 2022