Human beings have gone through multiple disruptions and changes over the years. The Covid-19 pandemic is the most recent and the first for the 21st century, during which we all have understood the need and significance of well-designed spaces. We have spent two and a half years living and working from our homes. This sudden transition has had its challenges that gave us a good understanding of how well our pre-designed built spaces responded to such a situation. With infrastructure lacking both in urban and rural sectors, our built environments have struggled with us during the pandemic. Nevertheless, we have accustomed our lifestyles to our new routine with the help of technology. Be it the Zoom-meetings of workplace or school lectures, it has helped people stay connected and heal them from the situation.
The future of architecture will be determined by the number of collaborations occurring between architects and engineers. Their cumulative effort in using the latest technology will also help in shaping our future. Not only does this technology help in understanding and solving complex design problems but assist in studying a far more dominant issue, namely construction materials. One of the reasons we fail to go beyond the marriage between brick and mortar is our lack of knowledge of alternate building materials. Today’s technology helps in recognizing new substitute materials for construction. It also helps in studying material optimization for a particular design problem.
The architecture of the present is still finding its feet. Another reason why the pandemic forced everyone to stay home was congestion in the urban settings. With little to zero open spaces, stressful traffic and unclean public spaces, our built environments are in no position to heal. As the construction industry continues to decline in efficiency, researchers, architects, engineers and urbanists are looking for solutions and implementing them on a low scale that is yet to make an impact.
- Immersive Technology
Immersive technology is changing the way we communicate our designs. Visual communication has always been a vital part of the Architectural field, be it during academics or while dealing with a client. VR (virtual reality) has transformed the way Architects and Engineers design and construct buildings, giving them a good visual idea of how designing and engineering come into play.
- Smart Cities
A smart city is a type of urban development based on sustainability. It focuses on reducing energy consumption, providing transportation solutions, access to amenities and facilities and increasing the overall efficiency of cities. The construction of such cities will eventually help, increasing the social, environmental and economic growth of a nation.
- Universally Designed Spaces
Designing public spaces for a diverse community is necessary. Inclusive architecture caters to all populations, from the disabled to the elderly to the young. Architects need to understand the barriers experienced by a wide diversity of users. Providing elevators, low-gradient ramps, tactile floor indicators, hearing loops, and braille signs throughout the space are some of the few solutions in making a space universally accessible and functional for all.
- Robotics in Construction
Robotic systems are flexible and are designed to solve a wide range of architectural problems. From extruding plastic to building a house in 20 hours using 3D printed concrete, innovation in the construction industry has helped reduce costs and waste, increase construction speed, reduce accidents and human errors, build complex shapes, and much more. They aid in making the structure more sustainable.
The Tongji University Bridge made by the university students in Shanghai use two emerging robotic fabrication techniques: large scale metal 3D printing and filament winding of carbon and glass fibres to produce web-like steps and handrails. This particular choice of construction saved money, material and energy compared to traditional building methods.
- Biophilic Design
Humans have been living and evolving with nature. We are wired to respond positively to our built environments. Research in environment psychology suggests that buildings support us best when they echo the scale and tone of the natural environment through inspiring light, form and dimension.
Biophilic designs have always given birth to a positive response between the user and the space. Architect Matthias Olt is an expert in mass timber design, which is laminated wood that is glued or mechanically bound together for strength. His hybrid design proposal for the replacement of the iconic Seattle bridge is a paradigm of the positive impact of biophilia on a city. The design consists of part steel or carbon fibre, wrapped in wood with concrete piers. The hybrid material would be half the weight of concrete. By incorporating a renewable building material, the carbon footprint of the built-up naturally reduces. The design pushes itself beyond the usual by integrating gardens and parks, thus uplifting the experience of the user, both physically and psychologically.
Architects need to constantly explore the latest techniques of the construction industry. Our built environments need to be smarter, responsive and more flexible in the coming years making collaborations vital for the future of architecture and us architects.
- TED. (2021). Biophilia, the future of Architecture by Matthias Olt.
Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OXZzsty5BGY