Humans always strive for a better future.  Knowing that we can’t change the past, but our present may shape our future, we always envision a better future for ourselves. Every individual has a vision for it. It may be a high-tech city with flying cars, glazed skyscrapers, innovative structures, or a city with the most sustainable and intelligent buildings. For some others, it may be a floating city, and the list goes on. Movies like Metropolis, Blade Runner, High Rise, and many others have tried to bring in the concept of a futuristic city and how it may impact our lives. We are currently struggling with the covid pandemic; it has changed our present and most probably will change our future. So now, how do we envision architecture’s future?

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Futuristic city of Blade Runner Movie_ ©https://montagesmagazine.com/2018/12/interlinked-adapting-the-cyberpunk-world-of-blade-runner/

Various Visions of Future

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In 1784, French architect Etienne-Louis Boullee had envisioned a giant cenotaph for Sir Isaac Newton, spherical in shape with narrow punctures on its thick wall. His concept was to invert the exterior lighting so that in the morning, the light would penetrate through the small holes in the dark sphere, and it would seem like it’s night time and in the night with giant artificial lighting, it would seem like day. This was a futuristic vision in its own time, and today, it might be possible to construct it. 

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Cenatoph of Sir Isaac Newton _©Etienne Boullée

Vincent Callebaut, the Belgian ecological architect, is also known for his futuristic designs. He has come up with many design concepts like 3D printed Ocean scraper, Nautilus Eco Resort in the Philippines, Tools and taxis in Belgium, and many others. His vision of future architecture involves using sustainable techniques and archi biotics, to restore the lost ecology.

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Semaphore: An ecological utopia proposed by Vincent Callebaut_©Vincent Callebaut Architectures

Many other famous architects propose futuristic concepts which render solutions to the current problems.  For example, BIG’s Oceanix City concept is designed for 10,000 people and can save them from extreme weather conditions and rising sea levels. This world is full of intelligent architects, and thus there are numerous versions of what the future in architecture has to offer us. 

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Floating Modular city proposed by BIG_ ©Bjarke Ingels Group

Current Resources That Might Shape The Future Of Architecture

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The world is coming up with many innovative technologies that gradually change how we work in every sector.  In architecture, there are many advancements and innovations that architects have slowly started incorporating in their designs. Emerging new trends like virtual reality and immersive technologies, once included in architectural structures, can help the clients experience their plans before they are constructed. 3D printing that was used for building small-scale objects is now taken as a massive opportunity in architecture. Using 3D printing in the construction field on a large scale will significantly expand the construction limits. Smart cities,   big data, and parametric designs are among the many other architectural trends that can shape the future.

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Virtual Reality would help us experience things virtually._ ©www.miro.medium.com

Though many people see the future as buildings made of steel structures, glass facades, concrete, etc., today, this range of building materials has also expanded. Many materials are being researched to know about their various properties and how they help us cope with climate issues. Materials like cross-laminated timber, plywood, recycled plastic, newspaper woodblocks made out of newspapers are considered as an ecological alternative to our current palette of materials. 

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Cross Laminated Timber emerging as a sustainable alternative for building materials_ ©https://www.volvoce.com/global/en/news-and-events/news-and-stories/2019/six-sustainable-building-materials-of-the-future/

The present is a fast-paced world, where things are changing very frequently. Our future depends on our present conditions, challenges, and this creates various opportunities. Every day, there is a new advancement in technology and the introduction of new tools like the internet of things, parametric design, big data, artificial intelligence, robotics, 3D printing,  etc., have completely changed our view of the future. These technological factors make architecture multidisciplinary, and in the future, this would lead to a collaboration of architecture with many other areas. 

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Collaborative work in Architecture_ ©https://www.arch2o.com/the-future-of-architecture-practice/

One of the other factors is the constantly changing human needs. We architects work together with the needs of our clients and users in today’s highly connected world. Many factors like a status symbol, new trends, social media, etc., influence our needs. There was a time when we had started to build according to human needs and had completely forgotten that this world also consists of nature and other biological species. When this fast development started to negatively affect our lives in the form of global warming and climate change, we slowly realized our mistakes. Though climate change is still prevalent today; there has been an increase in sensitivity in the designs, which is a good sign. This factor can also affect the architecture in the future as buildings will be more sustainable and ecologically inclusive. 

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Our designs need to be resilient to these climate changes._ ©Ricardo Arduengo/AFP/Getty Images

Currently, the world is facing a severe recent issue:  Covid-19, and it has been spreading and affecting our lives for the past two years. There had been a shortage in hospital infrastructures and places were not designed to promote social distancing. This is a unique situation for this whole world to deal with.  Architects have started  to think about how future designs can promote social distance and can deal with any such future conditions. This challenge is going to be one of the significant factors that would shape the future of architecture.

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Architecture should promote social distancing and avoid over crowding_ ©https://www.wamc.org/2020-01-25/coronavirus-faqs-do-masks-help-is-the-disease-really-so-mysterious

Climate Resilient Buildings

Many ecologists, industrialists, entrepreneurs, youngsters, and architects have been working to help the world cope with climate change.  Sustainability has become a significant field of interest for many. The buildings of the future would be more resilient to the climate issues that we are facing today. The concept of net-zero buildings is being applied even today, but it’s not on that large scale. In the coming years, we can expect to see many net-zero buildings that can reduce the effect on our ecology. Architects are working on making their designs more inclusive. Some architects are searching for extraterrestrial habitats that can help us deal with the issue of overcrowding cities. 

About 8% of the carbon emissions are from concrete jungles, and in the future, the use of local and recycled materials may increase.  We would be able to use the concept of vertical gardens, rooftop gardens, wind turbines, solar panels, and water recycling methods like greywater management, more often in our buildings with the help of advancing technologies. Future architecture would respond to the present global issues and challenges rather than being futuristic or dreamy because we have to start designing for sustainability and not for luxury.

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Bosco Verticale combines technology and sustainability._ ©Paolo Roselli

Impact of Covid on our Future

In the pandemic, we faced many new challenges,  and it showed us how our present architecture became inadequate to help us cope with these difficult situations. As the waves hit various countries, shortages in hospitals and infrastructure were found, and people were prohibited from visiting public spaces for the sake of social distancing. Our cities are not designed in a way that they would keep the people naturally away from each other. And this pandemic has made us think about how prepared we are for future issues.  Architects have started considering covid as a significant factor in the design. We need places that promote social distancing and encourage people to take their safety into their own hands rather than depending on the government to implement lockdown. 

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Illustration by Emma Roulette of public spaces post-pandemic_ ©Emma Roulette

One of the significant issues in the pandemic was mental health, as people were forced to live in their homes for too long, and many had to suffer from mental issues like cabin fever, anxiety, and depression. The architecture of the future would most possibly be inclusive of these mental health issues.  Houses would be designed in such a way that they motivate the people in these challenging times and support them mentally. We should never forget that the design of a space has the power to affect people’s mindset, and hence designing insensitively can directly impact our lives. Office places that were earlier more collaborative would now promote more cubicle systems to maintain social distancing in the workplace. Public spaces and public buildings would have to be designed to avoid overcrowding.  Architects would develop innovative ways of building hospitals in less time so that there is no shortage of bed services in our infrastructure. Briefly, we would design for survival.

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Life in pandemic_ ©Houston Center for Photography/Monica Gomez

Considering all these emerging trends, new challenges, and our current situation, the future of architecture may emerge into cities with the use of sustainable materials and techniques. Spaces may become tighter as the population is increasing at a faster pace. Covid will also direct our future so that we have the proper infrastructure to deal with such pandemics. Architects are already coming up with new imaginations and visions: only time can tell which ones would actually come true, but one thing is for sure, there will be progress, and we would build smarter. The present we live today was our past’s future, and the things we envision today would eventually become our future.  

Author

Currently in her 3rd year of Architecture at IIT Roorkee, Muskan believes that architecture has the potential to shape this world and its future. Being a keen observer, she always finds connection between architecture and human psychology. Besides this, she also loves art, music, movies and connecting with others.

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