The world is changing, with growth in technology; most of the physical experiential paradigms are turning digital, right from online shopping, to the education sector. Social media has increased our interactions to be far more digital experiences, rather than physical ones. Our lifestyles have become sedentary, and due to the novel coronavirus which started in the year 2019; digital presence has become a necessity rather than a choice; wherein if one does not have any interaction with technology or digitization, they are bound to feel out of time, relevance and have access towards the procurement of any information. Technology has become our new normal.
Architecture itself is becoming far more technologically driven. With movements in Parametricism and the shift from traditional hand drafting to Building Information Modelling (BIM), Architecture as we know it is becoming a technologically adept field, consisting of a plethora of software and digital workflows to make our work far easier and complex in terms of its design concept development. Architecture as a field is constantly adaptive with respect to the direction in which the world progresses, or in the case lack thereof, regresses. To quote Norman Foster, “As an architect, you design for the present, with an awareness of the past for a future which is essentially unknown.” With growing technological innovations and architecture’s growth with it, the possibilities of directions in which Architecture can move towards are endless. However, certain possibilities do exist, that can be solidified and supported as possible future trajectories, based on current growth trends and the development of a new normal.
With existing theories and implementations towards the colonization of Mars and the habitual possibilities on the Moon, the scope of these theories on interplanetary habitation manifesting in the near future are minimum; hence the focus will be towards discussing the possible scenario of Futuristic Architecture on Earth and the efforts made towards conserving, reutilizing and upcycling the existing resources at hand. Hence, in order to cover maximum content briefly, the approach towards discussing the possible future possibilities will be three-fold; first, dealing with the new normal and change in the living paradigm; second, dealing with the possibility of mass customization of spaces via digital fabrication, for the economically weaker; and the third, dealing with the conservation and preservation of historical heritage structures, and the programmatic shift that might ensue within them.
The New Normal
The new futuristic architectural paradigm is bound to be far more sensitive and responsive to not only its existing and surrounding context but its worldwide impact as well. Certain tools and methods which are as of yet, just choices in design approach; will have grown into necessities. Architecture will transcend its multi-disciplinarian nature towards collaborations with not only Engineers and Landscape consultants; but also Philosophers, Anthropologists, and people working in various other fields. Scripting, BIM, Sustainability, and Environmental Efficiency will become mandatory project parameters that are as basic as Site Analysis, Construction Detailing, and Structural Strength, thereby becoming the new normal in terms of architecture design tools.
The Urban Architectural Typology is most likely to be a culmination of all growing trends to cater to various sectors of change. Vertical, high-rises consisting of forms emulating biological structures (biomimicry) are a potential urban architectural typology. These structures are very likely to inculcate kinetic facades or elements which shall facilitate itself via passive design strategies to control the natural lighting and wind flow on higher levels. With the development of passive design technologies for exterior regulation and interior comfort optimization, the step towards sustainability and environmental efficiency shall be taken as well. Materially speaking, the growing innovations in material engineering and development shall result in the usage of sustainable yet environmentally conscious building materials which shall break the typical paradigm of steel, glass, and RCC: materials that have become synonymous with the urban architecture building material paradigm.
Programmatically speaking, the new futuristic modern typology will mainly comprise of mixed-use structures consisting of programs capable of forming a closed-loop interrelationship of transfer and exchange of resources, thereby creating its own chain of processes in the form of an urban vertical ecosystem. Referring to the theory of autopoiesis, which states the existence of a system capable of reproducing and maintaining itself by creating its own parts and eventually further components, the newer paradigm structures shall exist in the form of a micro-organism; capable of sustaining itself and reusing its wasted resources to further develop usable components.
While the interior interfaces will be far more digitized in interaction rather than tactile; due to the growth of data-driven design and the fast track technological growth, most of the interfaces in the future are bound to be more digital than physical, thus the existence of spaces that are far more flexible and open in nature; due to the possibility of VR undertaking itself as the new regular medium of communication. Interactive Designers shall become one of the major primary collaborators with architects to facilitate the futuristic digital interface architecture paradigm.
The Age of Mass Customization
The economically weaker masses, however, have the possibility of existing in a different spatial paradigm. Wherein taking the dense informal areas that exist in the current day; in order to provide for better and stronger living facilities, a scenario exists wherein 3d printed residential modules shall exist, which shall provide a quick construction solution, and develop formalized residences, with the added flexibility of developing and creating modules as per the user’s needs and cost affordability.
3d printing in Architecture is becoming a growing trend, and with the increasing production of prefabricated 3d printed housing modules, a new normal for affordable living shall take place, wherein the regular user transcends its definition into a user designer.
With collaborations with the 3d fabricator or designer, the user designer will be proficient enough towards developing mass customized housing modules to suit their own need. With the modules being designed with the flexibility of being add-ons or components which can later be added. Thus inducing the flexible expansion aspect that exists in the current informal housing sector; whilst being in a formalized housing framework.
How the Past fits into its Future?
Monuments are architectural devices that have the ability to make you travel back in time. Historical Heritage Spaces can showcase a time period that exists way back into the past, and certain such architectural spaces are a priority to conserve, some even given the title of being UNESCO recognized, and hence the need to protect them from the gorges of redundancy.
Adaptive Reuse is a strategy that is being applied towards changing the interiors and polishing the exteriors of historical architectural spaces with a great heritage value. Given the trends of the Urban Futuristic Architecture, these spaces and their architectural language are in danger of going into oblivion, and hence; to prevent that, they must transform into spaces of public interface, wherein the day to day public use of these spaces can still keep them and their relevant typology alive in the age of Rapid Futuristic Urban Modernization.
The hypothesis can be made of the use of heritage structures like the red fort, transcending their definition from a tourist monumental spot, to a center for cultural conservation, wherein people with relevant interests towards cultural preservation can come together towards the idea of conservation, or for that matter, the use of castles as mixed-use live-work centers for the economically disadvantaged. Adaptive Reuse is shaping itself into a modern practice towards keeping these architectural devices of time travel relevant in the age of post-modernization.
Thus, the question addressable here, is not what Architecture will be, but what it can be. The scope is vast, and innovation is the only way towards developing better lifestyles for the people. New normal shall take place, and due to the rapid fast-growing population and the need for dwellings and human habitats for work, production, and entertainment; the need for Architects and their craft is at an all-time high. The possibilities are limitless; the only thing to see now is what it all comes to be.
Houda, M. (2018). 3D PRINTING TOWARDS MASS-CUSTOMISATION. Available from: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/325817307_3D_PRINTING_TOWARDS_MASS-CUSTOMISATION. [Accessed: 29th May 2021].