You want what now looks like, let me give you a taste…
In 2020, singer Dua Lipa released her critically acclaimed album, Future Nostalgia. The album comprises a mix of past musical styles and rhythms paired with a modern take on these themes. In this record, she found a connection between nostalgic melodies and futuristic production styles. The result was a perfect translation of a complex mixture of musical pieces into a sonically cohesive set of songs for the public to easily understand and enjoy. She added a fresh spin to those classic sounds, where she not only paid tribute to the glorious past but reinvented it, allowing it to shine under a new spotlight.
This concept of “reinvention” is not only restricted to music but is seen to grow in use across a variety of art forms, including architecture, where it is seen in the form of the ‘contemporary vernacular’ styles. Generally, as we develop as a society, we find ourselves solely depending on the use of modern technology and knowledge, usually completely separating ourselves from the past. This has resulted in the creation of bland, empty styles with no connection to the past culture, hinting at a very baseless future.
The Future trend
Architects, in response to the Modern Architecture movement, committed themselves to an exclusively futuristic-based approach to design, disregarding traditional ideals and focusing only on the use of modern expressions and techniques. They believed that the future of design was to exclusively revolve around the use of modern technology and materials.
By using the concept of ‘Future Nostalgia’, today’s architects can establish the “contemporary vernacular” (in more understandable terms) and allow themselves to set up traditional, more nostalgic designs that offer some sort of cultural connection for the people of the region while exhibiting these values in the use of modern tools and techniques.
Future architecture should be contextual and national while still possessing an outlook that is open and international. It is important that architects do not blindly imitate and copy designs as static preservation but should instead strive for creative conservation. This can be done by getting inspired by historic and traditional buildings of the region and then translating this base into a more modern language, using present-day elements. Furthermore, it allows them to display the sign of the times while paying an accurate homage to the historical culture of the region.
The Basic Template
In order to follow the principle of the ‘Contemporary Vernacular’ in design, one can focus on the five main points, among countless other methods. This will help in embodying the community architecture in all its historical forms in a more present-day context. These are;
- Nature: Nature should be a constant source of inspiration for the design. It should respond harmoniously with the natural context as well as engage users at a sensory and cognitive level.
- Place: There should be a proper balance between the location and the form. This will help in enhancing the “character” of the place.
- Time: Designs should cater to all times and seasons of the year. Nature, Place, and Time have a strong connection.
- Architectonic: Designs should incorporate the application of appropriate technologies and materials for a proper balance between aesthetics, structure, and use.
- Identity: Designs should create an identity within the society by displaying visual values, principles, and stories.
A perfect encapsulation of these points is the design of The Royal Academy for Nature Conservation by the Khammash architects. The building is a jarring design that is based on sustainable and environmental principles and is a rich allusion to tradition in a piece of modern formwork. The design does not impose itself on the surrounding environment but instead blends into the serene landscape. In addition to this, the design of the building was made to merge in with the story and culture of the area by being an extension of the abandoned quarry found at the site as well as the natural rocky cliffs.
A Different Approach
Lipa’s favourite song off the album, “Love Again” uses the classic “Imperial March” tune from the famous Star Wars movie, “The Empire Strikes Back”, throughout the song, as a base element. The utilization of this single element from the past, with its use in a modern arrangement and context, allows us to be instantly transported back to the ‘80s, while the modern dance beat production style keeps us grounded in the 21st century. This hints at yet another excellent method to incorporate the mixture of styles of different eras.
By focusing on an individual element of the design of the building, one can showcase a previous time with significant cultural importance while keeping the execution of this idea in a very “new age” sense. This can be accomplished by focusing on the material choice, a particular building element, the colour palette, an additional embellishment, etc. An example of this style of architecture can be seen in the design of the Krupachaya Farmhouse by Qdesign in Pune, where there is a predominant use of brick in the design, with fairly contemporary and varied use of the material in the building elements.
Architects from Fournier, Biome, etc., have already experimented in this field and have found a hybrid between past architectural projects of the region with more new age expressions. Their designs reflect the local cultural values while still striving to keep up with the changing times.
Another architect who is considered the “Jordanian superstar architect” is Ammar Khammash. His projects like the Darat al Funun, an Arts and Cultural Center, Wild Jordan, a restaurant and a market, etc., showcase his style of maintaining a proper balance between the built structure and the natural surroundings. In addition to this, he focuses on factors like geology, geography, socioeconomics, amongst others. The result is usually a modern set of forms with a more traditional visual factor.
The future must see the growth of a more inclusive design, one that does not alienate people from their culture but instead supports it in terms that can compare to today’s modern developments (in tool and technique). We find that by focusing on a more timeless design, one can easily capture the interest of the larger public while creating a present that links the past and the future.
“You want a timeless song; I want to change the game.”
For a bright tomorrow in architecture, Future Nostalgia is the name.
- Lipa, D., 2020. Future Nostalgia. [Album] Warner Records.
- Tarrad, Mohannad and Abu-baker, Diana (2020) “A PROPOSED NEW CONTEMPORARY VERNACULAR ARCHITECTURE AS AN EXPRESSION OF THE SPIRIT OF AGE-DESIGN PRINCIPLES: A CASE STUDY OF AJLOUN, JORDAN,” Architecture and Planning Journal (APJ): Vol. 25: Iss. 1, Article 5.