One thing that we can vouch for sure is that architecture has always been unpredictable and uncertain with its ever-shifting nature. When it comes to the future, in the short run, the architectural community and industry can see a lot of techno-savvy development that will provide advanced technological discoveries and numerous innovations that will drastically change the pursuit of design and language of architecture.

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Multiple factors can cause the approach to architecture to transform, improve or completely dissolve from its present conditions.

“Climate change, overpopulation and segregation are three of the biggest challenges of the 21st century.” :(D. Sims, 2000)

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Rightly quoted, these three major issues are what will affect the futuristic approach to architecture. Climate change due to global warming is an up and coming issue that highly affects a lot of decisions that are involved in the construction of a design. With efforts made to shift to a more sustainable design and inclusion of more environmentally friendly materials, the future holds a utopic image of towering buildings with excessive usage of green facades that would be built with complex processes but less of a carbon footprint.

Sustainability

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Sustainable architecture © https://www.thestatesman.com/

Sustainability is not a new concept and nor is it one that has been completely resolved. Every day with every moment passing, a new brighter and more evolved approach is chosen to rephrase what it truly is to be 100% sustainable. Some of the terminologies that make it to the brief regarding sustainability are “thermal control”, “verticality”, “alternative energies” and “natural lighting”. It looks like a rather conclusive ideology but sustainability can be done at each step and is much bigger from reusing materials to being cost-effective.

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Overpopulation 

Another aspect of life that considerably changes the futuristic approach to architecture is the overt nature of the population that is incredibly increasing every day. Different approaches can be imagined to ensure overpopulation is satisfied and people can be accommodated. The more realistic and heavily used urban concept is the idea of employing vertical cities. With the up and coming population and ever-growing need for housing spaces- skyscrapers, towering buildings or verticality as a concept are the new approaches. They occupy minimal land footprint and also provide a bigger capacity to host more people. Although it is not particularly commended for the environmental drawbacks; newer technologies like using solar energy for construction purposes are being incorporated to make the vertical cities sustainable as well.

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©https://www.theguardian.com/

Another way to succumb to overpopulation is the one dramatically visualized by JG Ballard in his short story Billennium. He imagines a dystopian world where the more impactful threat to the human race is not war, but overpopulation. The lack of space in an ever-increasing population forcefully causes each individual to live in a minimal footprint. The population has swelled to such a level that spaces have shrunk. This is the premise of the story Billennium: A Ballardian tale that represents an alliance of architecture with late capitalism. A story that imagines the spaces in future to be so cluttered, that the architecture is cut down and people are restricted to live in cells of three-meter squares. The modern urban concentration is a prevalent topic within the tale that truly describes a much too real possible world and an approach that can be taken to resolve the futuristic issues that architecture might face. 

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©https://www.architecturaldigest.com/

The current idea of using a stacking system to succumb to population is also a possibility of future architecture. With it resolving issues of space in slums presently, a wider approach can be used to make a stackable city module that can be replicated over and over again to make an overall settlement. The individually designed modules that are stacked in various patterns, rotations and designs is something that can be a possible outcome for the future.

Segregation 

©https://www.bloomberg.com/

With developing hierarchical understandings of communities and along with it the need to segregate people by occupation, religion and age is something that has been overly exercised over years. With some parts of a city being more populated by a certain religion. This is a way to develop a city because it does make sense for a certain community to live together. While it discourages the idea of equality or a well-bonded community; it does allow spatial planning more easily and systematically. With the same group of people living in the same surrounding, the specifications that are their ways of living, their lifestyle, food choices and way of practising prayers would be similar and hence it would be easier for them to form a well-knit community for themselves.

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On one hand, we can all agree that with the modern world, we all want a community that accepts and understands and survives in each other’s world. But with doing that and providing all sorts of religious spaces, food stalls, hospitals and education systems in all areas, it becomes a bit overbearing and hence underused. A possible approach to futuristic construction would be to make a city that is segregated according to any demographic that would help to create a more sustainable, smaller footprint and better spatially planned settlements.

The unseen future

The world is constantly developing, evolving and adapting to its consistent changes. The only constant in this world is changing and having said that, we can only predict what the architecture would be like in the future. All we can do is try and adapt our thinking and explore more in terms of how to make this world a well-rounded, better space to live in. The futuristic approach to architecture is not definite and is a bit unclear but with widening our perspective and using all our sources to comprehend the ever-changing needs and wants of this world, we as architects can try and be more innovative.

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What do you think the future holds? A sustainable, densely populated or a segregated modular system of living?

References

1) “Why JG Ballard’s High-Rise Takes Dystopian Science Fiction to a New Level.” 

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2)     The Guardian, Guardian News and Media, 3 Oct. 2015, www.theguardian.com/books/2015/oct/03/jg-ballards-high-rise-takes-dystopian-science-fiction-to-a-new-level. 

3) Lockton, Dan, and Ian Parkinson. “J.G. Ballard & Architectures of Control.” Ballardian, 2 Jan. 2008, www.ballardian.com/jg-ballard-architectures-of-control. 

4) Demos. (n.d.). The Challenge of Segregation. [online] Available at: https://www.demos.org/blog/challenge-segregation

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5) VAUGHAN, L. and ARBACI, S. (2011). The Challenges of Understanding Urban Segregation. Built Environment (1978-), [online] 37(2), pp.128–138. Available at: https://www.jstor.org/stable/23290014

6) Beam, T. (2017). The future of buildings lies in sustainable architecture with Frank Heinlein. [online] Medium. Available at: https://medium.com/thebeammagazine/frank-heinlein-10a308300975

Author

Shloka Mashru is an Architecture student aspiring to be a conceptually expressive Architect by day and an articulate writer by night. She believes every wall has a story to narrate. Besides working, you can find her binge watching, dancing or reading at the balcony with a hot cup of chai.

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Rethinking The Future Awards 2022