The future of Architecture is not just a singular concept; it is as wide-ranging as the mind can imagine; and has the potential to cross leaps and bounds to challenge the widely accepted notions of “real”. With there being endless possibilities, there is no halt in the future of architecture. It is not just defined by cutting-edge developments in technology but is also a reflection of how the concepts of living have transformed. Countless floors of glass and steel arranged on top of each other, which were once considered to be the ultimate future of architecture, have paved the way for a more holistic approach to design. Not only does the physical appearance of a building matter today but a greater deal of importance is given to how it feels from inside and the impact it creates on the site.
Role of Technology
Technology impacts every aspect of our lives today. Not only does it affect our lifestyle and our perspective on long-standing notions, but it also has a deep impact on the way we see and “want” to see the spaces around us. Over the past few decades, the construction industry has seen several dramatic changes in the narrative of architecture right from the inception of a project to its construction and eventually in the way it is used. With the concepts of everything “smart” being seen as a trend for decades now, they are not merely limited to phones, cars, and gadgets. Smart “homes” and “offices” through building automation impact every minute detail of our ideals of living and control the way our built surroundings react to our needs.
Emerging trends like Artificial Intelligence and Robotics in the design industry are a huge leap in the construction process and help mitigate any possible challenges that could potentially hamper the life of a building. Another such trend is that of digitally printing and assembling building components for quick, efficient, and quality construction. With giants like Amazon venturing into the arena of selling prefabricated homes, the day when we could order a new home online is not too far.
Back to the Basics
The future of architecture is not just limited to the use of technology. With the rapidly depleting natural reserves and rising awareness towards the environmental impact of upcoming buildings, architects face the serious challenge of looking into alternative solutions to decontaminate the construction industry. To fight this serious crunch of resources, we must address some pressing challenges like the materials used for construction, the energy efficiency of the building, and the impact of its ecological footprint on the existing biodiversity. A viable solution that addresses these concerns reduces consumption, reuses waste, recycles space, and promotes sustainability is a major guiding factor in the future of architecture.
Coming from a time when buildings were considered to be “machines” for living, they have now been readapted as “living organisms”. There has been a tremendous shift in our perception of spaces. Most examples of architecture today follow the famous quote, “Form follows fiction” by Bernard Tschumi, and build a relationship with its users. They are no longer static arrangements of structural innovation but also engage the senses and evoke a dialogue between people and their surroundings through design.
The future of architecture is to break away from the notion of four walls and a roof; rather it aims to provide both physical and mental comfort. With due importance being given to the mental impact buildings have on people, the distinctions between inside and outside have become transient. Easy interaction and access for all have become a guiding force for effective and efficient design for the future.
Optimizing the concepts of Space
With the enormous rise in population and rapidly depleting land reserves, the only option to compensate for the needs of this new era is to be space savvy. However, the future of architecture does not imply vertical towers of concrete and steel; rather, it looks at the versatility of space and revitalises the concept of “Less is more”. Rather than segregating functions in a building, it aims to make the same space act in a plethora of different ways for its multiple users.
The architectural design of the future emphasises blurring the lines between public and private, creating inclusive spaces that share the same tangible values for their users and the general public. Buildings of the future have the potential to be visualised as “mini-cities” in their core ethos, which not only provide a diverse range of services within a limited context but also help to share and minimise the consumption of energy for their basic operations.
Cities of the Future
Most cities of the world are growing rapidly, yet a lot of them are growing with organic complexities aiming to accommodate more cars than people, with diminishing focus on the quality of life. They wrestle with crucial issues of pollution, congestion, and inequitable availability of reserves. In the cities of the future, the macro drivers of change will be sustainable innovation, urban resilience, renewable energy, clean transportation, and user-centric design ideologies. The cities of the future will target livability and healthier infrastructure, but it will definitely not be just a series of densely packed tall superstructures piercing the skyline arranged together.
Impact of the Pandemic
Although the future of architecture had a certain envisioned trajectory, the raging pandemic has “challenged” the ideals of living at both micro and urban levels. Most of our spaces have had to adapt to the challenges of “social distancing” and become flexible to allow a varied addition to their list of purposes. The urge of being closer to nature has emerged as a necessity in comparison to being cooped up in the concrete jungle. Designing for mental comfort has taken the front seat when thinking about the future of architecture. All the challenges of limiting contact and decongesting public spaces will pave the way for a future that would cater to the needs of the people holistically and make spaces that are not just smart but also sustainable.
But despite all its limitations, the future of architecture still has endless opportunities. Though some of it could focus on creating self-sufficient, partially isolated, “safe zone” entities, a larger part of the future seeks to integrate the world as a seamless whole. While some parts could aim to draw redemption through groundbreaking technical innovations, the future of architecture would revolve around us creating new earthy utopias, because in the words of the visionary architect Sir Norman Foster,
“If you weren’t an optimist, you could never be an Architect”.