The very basis of our society rests on ideals of being better tomorrow. We strive to do better; build better. We use our extensive imaginative power to envision the future. Our different renditions of the future of architecture through books and movies talk about what we expect in the future of architecture. What we can gather from most of these interpretations of possible futures is that architecture is more or less fused with rapidly developing technology in all aspects. 

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Architecture of tomorrow- Zaha Hadid Architects_©Flying Architecture

The industrial revolution was the first time that architecture drastically changed. We are, yet again, at a point in time where we take a leap forward by incorporating technology into construction right from conception of design to the use of the building. As we speak, we hear about ambitious projects in the near future which will use revolutionary technology. Scenes such as the fictional Yorktown in the movie Star Trek Beyond and the architecture from Disney’s Tomorrowland come to mind when thinking about future architecture.

‘Internet of Things’ is one other revolutionary setup that is drastically changing today’s buildings. We are connected to a host of smart devices that reduce human intervention thereby reducing the possibility of human error through simple things such as motion-sensitive lighting. This type of lighting saves a great deal of energy by switching off the lights when the space is not in use. Experiments are being done on having it incorporated on large scale projects such as highways and other public spaces where there is no need for continuous lighting. 

The whole idea behind the internet of things is to connect the built environment to the end-users so that buildings adapt to the comfort of the user. As we see major lifestyle changes, people seem to have less time on their hands. The 24 hours in a day don’t seem to be sufficient. Automation helps take some load off the user and while getting the work done efficiently. In simplest terms, it would be nice to have simpler work automated. 

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Technology and architecture_©mrinetwork

Apart from technology, the one other thing that future buildings must incorporate is sustainability. Knowing full well the impact of the construction industry on the environment, we cannot possibly continue to work the way we do without facing serious repercussions. If there is no substantial change, at some point the cost may be too high to endure. Apart from aiming for net-zero energy buildings, future architecture must also focus on reducing the negative impact of the construction industry on the environment. 

The use of sustainable material is one other way of making a sustainable futuristic building. Ongoing experiments on creating materials that are more suitable to the environment pave the way for a sustainable future. Innovative ways of using them will define the architecture of the future. One such example is the use of timber in high rise buildings. The use of materials such as cross-laminated timber and glulam has helped in devising ways for a sustainable high-rise building. 

Incorporating smart technology in a building can be a way to create sustainable buildings. These two points today form the baselines for future architecture. Technology today can calculate and sense data from a human body through the use of wearables. And now we must incorporate this data into making a better-suited place for the user. This includes things like automated doors, biometric scanning etc. which are seen today but would be more widely used in the near future. 

Sustainable future_©C F Moller

In terms of design, future architecture would incorporate complex geometries as we move away from tried and tested forms and experiment with geometries to achieve results that were earlier not possible. An example of this is the use of complex geometries to create long span structures such as the ones used in airports and stadiums. Experimenting with geometries may help us devise solutions that will use less material while providing more comfort. To learn from the past, the use of triangle forms in trusses helps in creating long spans but also being lighter than a single horizontal member which would be far heavier. 

Future architecture depends on the imaginative power of the architect and the problems we face. Currently, countries all over the world are facing acute energy shortages due to the looming climate crisis and are trying to prevent the situation from deteriorating further. One thing that future architecture must aim for is net-zero energy. Sustainability and technology together are shaping architecture even today and may be the core principles of architectural designs in the future. 

As we confront these issues, we must not only design our buildings to be self-sufficient but also to serve the society. Researchers have found that if at least half the rooftops in the world had solar panels, there would be enough energy to power most households. Incorporating this type of technology will eventually help to solve the looming crisis. The architecture of tomorrow is all about better suiting the end-user and is a solution to present problems. 

Author

Sanika Palnitkar is an architect who loves to read. She finds science fiction fascinating and one of the reasons for joining architecture. Other than that, she prefers reading or watching thrillers, mysteries, adventures or fantasies (nerd stuff). Learning new software is another one of her hobbies.

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