Architecture as we know it may disappear in the near future. There is a current shift in the outlook of the purpose of buildings, due to recent events such as the global pandemic. Architects are some of the most important designers of our world. They have the power to regenerate the built environment to become more complementary to the evolving human lifestyle as well as the natural environment.
Rethinking the approach to design
Buildings used to be designed, throughout most of the 20th century, as machines that followed consumerist briefs and solved specific problems. Architect Le Corbusier was fundamental in initiating and developing this metaphor of a house being a machine for living in. However, architects of this generation have understood and replaced this mindset to design buildings that reflect a deeper sense of humanism that healthily interacts with the natural landscape as a living form.
It is the duty of an architect to create multidisciplinary designs which provide solutions that enhance not only the quality of life of its inhabitants but also the contextual landscape. Human health and well-being are becoming increasingly considered topics within all aspects of the design process. This approach of making buildings more supportive of psychological and physical health as well as more authentic and environmentally friendly is crucial in ensuring the longevity of our world.
All forms of architecture are being created and constructed, with a newfound sensitivity, to aspects such as location, culture and context. This, therefore creates spaces that feel more welcoming and also enhance the connectivity of communities. Increasing the use of eco-friendly and sustainable design principles will be vital in encouraging biodiversity to thrive and creating a better functioning relationship between buildings and the natural world.
Sustainability in Singapore
The Gardens by the Bay in Singapore comprise beautiful and sustainable examples of design that create an almost symbiotic relationship between the architecture and the environment. The key purpose and vision for this development in Singapore was to create a city within a garden that acts as a model for sustainable development and conservation across the globe. The human factor of the experiences offered and created throughout the gardens is also important and are what makes this architecture so unique and compelling.
The masterplan consists of Supertrees, lakes, horticultural gardens and the Cooled Conservatories. It’s a beautiful model of the possibilities of the fusion of nature, architecture, technology and the environment. The plan includes infrastructure that supports endangered varieties of plants to grow that would not naturally flourish in Singapore, providing education as well as a biodiverse landscape for the nation. Two biomes, known as the Cooled conservatories, sit proudly within the gardens that house and display plants from the Mediterranean climatic region.
The Supertrees are embedded throughout the landscape and are integrated with sustainable technology, vital to the cooling process of the Cooled Conservatories. These technologies are a statement to sustainable engineering and energy-efficient solutions, with systems that minimise solar heat gain, harness waste heat and dehumidify the air before cooling only the occupied zones. All these elements working as one creates the innovative vision that is The Gardens by the Bay.
The Influence of covid-19
At the present day, the global pandemic has completely shifted the routine and lifestyle of humans. People’s busy and scheduled lives took a standstill and we retreated into the safety and comfort of our humble abodes. We experienced a phase where staying removed from the outside world kept us safest and the only refuge we had were our homes, which brings most people comfort and peace.
Covid-19 has threatened the way we inhabit space and move through buildings and has highlighted the interconnectivity of economic, environmental and social problems. The months of isolation have led to the realisation that architecture is about easy and equal access to the simple necessities of life. It’s a reminder that we are all connected through our architectural experiences and that the inhabitants should not be isolated from the design process but should encompass the meaning and purpose of all architecture.
Modifying architecture as we know it
This is a key existential moment in the architectural world, as we are having to rethink and redesign our understanding of the important roles and purpose of the built environment. Architecture can no longer exist as a singular discipline but needs to be integrated with various aspects of life. Many architects are beginning to create more holistic solutions that address different problems and solutions, leading to more flexible and sustainable buildings.
Architecture holds such a vital role in creating a more sustainable future, aiming to improve human life and their well-being as well as the ecology surrounding them. Embracing a mindset that frees the designer from creating a solution to a problem, but to explore various ideas and experiences, will positively inform the human-centered design that needs to be cultivated. The buildings of the near future need to become more than just structures, but organic environments that protect and enhance our lives; infusing them with purpose.