“Great Architecture is always a point of Departure.”

Architect Marc Kushner in his book “The Future of Architecture in 100 Buildings.” reflects on revolutionary ideas posed by architects from all over the world.  Every time we come across an unusual building; we tend to label it as futuristic. But with the increasing population and the numerous global issues, how practical is it to imagine us “regular people” colonizing these unfamiliar buildings. Multiple questions pop up when it’s taken into consideration – ‘Have we been thinking about doors all wrong?’, ‘Is “interesting” affordable?’, ‘Can we find salvation in paper tubes?’

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Slums of Future (2017)_© Original Artwork by Sergey Taranik (https://www.artstation.com/artwork/yYPe3)

Factors that will shape the future of Architecture.

The requirements and ideologies of human beings are dynamic; they have drastically changed over time and will continue changing with time. Many architectural ideas are formed in response to discontent with the regnant dogmas from the time in which they originate. The biggest influence on Architecture in recent years has been the availability of technology. New heights and strengths in buildings that couldn’t be achieved due to the lack of relevant techniques and the right materials earlier have been brought to life over the last few years.

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Clark County, Nevada- some of the fastest growing lands in the U.S., 2010_© Christopher Gielen (source: https://web.colby.edu/ckasprak/2010/12/17/the-artwork-of-christoph-gielen/)

Strategic or Chaotic?

The need to solve problems is the driving force of Architecture. From the earliest buildings that fulfilled the need for security and shelter, to the more recent examples that are mainly about taking the maximum advantage of spaces, the primary focus of the sector has been progression and problem-solving. Creating isolated, self-sufficient architectural entities, and integrating the world into a seamless whole are the two starkly contrasting but very common solutions architects propose to deal with social and economic inequality and environmental collapse. Technical and scientific solutions and anarchic, earthy new utopian ideas also come up in abundance. Architecture must be both theoretical and pragmatic. Architects have the power to visualize and suggest new possibilities. “You can’t find a solution if you are one mastermind behind the design,” says Architect Jacob Sertich. Humility is necessary for the profession; it is important to consider the interests of people. Being informed through observation, listening, and collaboration is as important as having imagination and knowledge.

While some cities in the past have been planned, at least in part, they have often grown chaotically with minimal strategic design, especially under the pressure of population growth. Chaos created by the uncontrolled growth of cities during rapid industrialization can be avoided by Inspired city planning working to a well-defined strategy with regard for human values. The designs for future cities must be flexible, responding to evolving technologies and cultural changes. With rapid global urbanization, the challenges are immense. Cities must be built to new designs, to learn what works.

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Architecture of Density_©Photograph by Michael Wolf (https://photomichaelwolf.com/#architecture-of-densitiy/11)

Designing for Survival

Humanity is facing numerous threats, and they cannot be ignored. Climate change and limited natural resources pose a major challenge to future Architects. The planet is running out of room and resources. Many people won’t be able to afford even the tiniest of spaces in large cities, considering the alarming rate of urbanization. While there are multiple potential solutions to these problems, paradigms of architecture hold the power to make a big difference. We’re all familiar with the trends driving towards vertical living and mixed-use communities – working, living, playing, commerce, all in the same vicinity, with promising results. This entirely changes our social construct. Not only does it solve the purpose of having a smaller physical footprint on the earth, but also promotes a lively, dynamic community of people. It also helps increase urban productivity. Productivity is clearly desirable in emerging cities as it increases competitiveness, thereby growing the prosperity and sustainability of any city. More productive cities can increase output with the same amounts of resources, generating additional real income that can raise living standards. Going more compact has also been in the best interests of single families for environmental and economic reasons. Living by these ideals can control urban sprawl to a large extent.

Prosperity and Sustainability

Sustainability alongside advanced technology is a sine qua non for the future of Architecture. For many people, the term ‘green living’ evokes visions of existing in natural surroundings, buildings made of straw and mud, organic gardens, everything extremely low tech. Although sleek high-tech buildings and sustainable design seem mutually exclusive at first glance, architecture in the future must incorporate both elements.

Most of us dwell in cities that weren’t designed with sustainability in mind. While the needs of humanity shape the future of architecture, the path we choose to cater to these needs through architecture has the power to change the way we live – for the better. Architects are doubling down to come up with multiple testing techniques and technologies to lessen the impact of the ‘uber-tall high tech buildings’ on the environment. Sustainable transformation can already be seen at the local and regional levels. However, implementing these standards at a higher pitch is critical and it requires support from numerous stakeholders, including public officials, clients, consumers, and practitioners in related fields.

Lessons from the Present

We’re at a point now where the future is increasingly undefined. How architecture has changed over time provides a fascinating insight into the development of humans, from the influence of the industry to technological progress. As the pandemic continues, inadequacies are now widely felt; Architecture is about rights, air, and equal access to the necessities of life. It is a transformational moment for architecture that could topple old hierarchies and promise to remake the world for the better. Cities of the future should provide a socially diverse environment where economic and social activities overlap and where communities focus around neighborhoods. They must be developed or adapted to enable their citizens to be socioeconomically creative and productive. Architecture should integrate itself with life, social knowledge, and discourses instead of existing by itself. 

“The future is already here. It is just not very evenly distributed” -William Gibson.

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First Climate controlled neighborhood to be built in Dubai by Architect Vincent Callebaut_©Callebaut, V
  1. Books

Diaz, F. (2017). Archifutures. Barcelona: dpr.

  1. Articles

Pobiner, J. (2017). City 2050: What will your city look like in 2050? Gensler Dialogue box.

Available at: https://www.bdcnetwork.com/blog/city-2050-what-will-your-city-look-2050 [Accessed: 16 August 2021]. 

Kennicott, P (2020). Designing to Survive. Washington Post.

Available at : https://www.washingtonpost.com/magazine/2020/07/13/pandemic-has-shown-us-what-future-architecture-could-be/

  1. Online sources

Vangelatos, G (2019). How Does Architecture Impact Society? A High-Level Look. [online]. (Last updated 18 October 2019). Available at: https://www.thoughtco.com/the-future-of-architecture-in-100-buildings-a-review-4074154  [Accessed date: 15 August 2020].

Freeeman, S. (2013). How will the future of architecture change the way we live: How Stuff Works?

Available at: https://science.howstuffworks.com/engineering/architecture/how-will-future-of-architecture-change-way-we-live.html  [Accessed: 16 August 2021]. 

  1. Images/visual mediums

Citations for images/photographs – Print or Online:

Tarapik, S. (2017). Slums of the Future. [Image]. 

Gielen, C. (2010). Clark County. [Photograph]

Woolf, M. Architecture of Density. [Photograph]

Callebaut, V. First Climate controlled neighborhood to be built in Dubai. [Image]

5. Other source types

Citations for reports:

Riffat, S., Powell, R. & Aydin, D. Future cities and environmental sustainability. Fut Cit & Env 2, 1 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1186/s40984-016-0014-2

Citations for interviews:

Future Agenda Team. (2019). Future of Cities Insights from Multiple Expert Discussions

Around the World. London: Future Agenda

Bhose, S and Young, L. (2017). What Am I A Citizen Of? Barcelona: dpr


An undergrad architecture student and a conservationist who is super enthusiastic and tries to learn from every opportunity that crosses her path. She comprehends her areas of interest through research and journalism. She aspires to tap into human behaviorism and bridge the gap between Architecture and community psychology.

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