It is no surprise that architecture is not only about space, but also incorporates the essence of time. It involves the engineering of thoughts and perceptions that eventually shapes the environment that surrounds us. It is the most essential example of how change is an inevitable factor that determines our future on this planet. To understand what the future of architecture holds, it is important to highlight the current factors that contribute the most towards its capacity to emerge in a futuristic world order. It is no surprise that the most striking factor that will shape up the Architectural Heterotopia of tomorrow is the pandemic. As the pandemic spread across the globe and turned the healthcare systems and worldwide economies upside down, it also placed architects and designers in a similar disposition of uncertainty- what would be the consequent outcome of architecture in the foreseeable future?
Being at a crucial crossroads, the future of architecture seemingly appears to be a discursive space that is eternally transforming according to the rapidly changing needs of society and moreover human behavior. Having this quality of transformation, the Architectural Heterotopia of tomorrow is dominantly being defined by the need for rapid solutions to the problems being caused by the pandemic. With the need for more individualized and personal spaces that cater to the concept of working from home and most importantly going against the corporate tide of massive skyscrapers, it appears that the future of architecture can be best visualized as a modular one- progressive, quick, and convenient. However, it is important to note that this modular nature is not limited to the structural element of architectural design. In fact, this also pertains to turning one’s personal spaces into modular sanctuaries that can fully function as specialized spaces. How can this be done in today’s day and age when the situation is clearly taking a turn towards a more maddeningly pragmatic yet chaotic reality?
Understanding the relation between the present and the past
The Architectural Heterotopia being dictated by the current pandemic in ways that could not have been calculated before. It is almost as if the era after the Second World War is being repeated when the Maestro, Le Corbusier, made the Unit d’ Habitation, as a solution for a lack of housing for displaced people. Being a modular, quick, and practical response in an otherwise panic-stricken situation, this case study is like the situation of today where such crisis-driven solutions in terms of architectural spaces need to be derived by architects. What is necessary to reflect on through this classic example is the way an individualized space was designed for the people by the architect that also pertained to their social needs. How is the architecture of the future going to mimic this social need physically?
Envisioning the future in a COVID stricken environment where change is the only constant, the architectural landscape would be something out of a Lego movie. Where every building, new and even old, would have this cubic and strict geometric feel. The very harsh lines of this geometry show the urgency for structures that have been fabricated and constructed rapidly to meet the pressing needs for facilitating the sick and establishing quarantine accommodations and even hospitals. This Architectural Heterotopia, although providing us with a bland visual taste of what the future may hold still speaks a language of pragmatism that will need to be established as time progresses.
Residential Architecture and its evolution during the pandemic
Coming towards the way people would live in their personal quarters, the residential aspect of future architecture will also consent to the new reality of living that COVID-19 has provided. This mode of design will also follow similar guidelines that have been discussed previously based on the elements of pure function. However, residential spaces will be given the flexibility that they need to become ‘self-contained’ spaces that can morph with the ever-changing demands of the user during this crisis. How will these spaces change once the dust settles? Or will the dust even settle at all? From the way things are currently progressing, personal spaces that include residential design, shared spaces must also have the potential to act as spaces of isolation as well.
More ergonomic designs that are user-adaptive can be introduced with a focus on natural ventilation, air quality, and lighting that will enhance the overall mental well-being of the users who will be mostly indoors. Having a good view for these isolated spaces is another design consideration that architects must seek to explore during their experimentation with space. Separate workrooms for all the residents of the house, along with specialized spaces for home-schooling for children can also be seen to emerge in this post-pandemic Architectural Heterotopia. Relaxation spaces that can act as buffer zones for the users from their workspaces are also something that architects may incorporate into this post-pandemic residential mode of design. Another very important aspect of residential design is the kitchen which will now act as the main public space within any living quarters. With the way things progressed during the pandemic, more people have realized their hidden passion for becoming self-taught food connoisseurs and chefs thereby making kitchen spaces more happening.
As the pandemic progresses towards an unknown territory where architects and designers may find themselves at creative cross-roads, it is important to understand that the future of architecture is always going to evolve. Whether the dust of this pandemic settles or not, the distinction between home and work life is something that will shape the architectural vista of the future. What is important to realize is that we must come to terms with the relentless pattern of change that is intertwined with the way architecture will evolve in the years to come.
Bos, L. (2021). Now What? How Home Design and Architecture Should Adapt to a Post-Covid world. [Illustration]
Roulette, E. (2020). How the Coronavirus will reshape Architecture. [Illustration]