From artificial intelligence, 3d printed houses, to extraterrestrial architecture. When anyone asks about the future of architecture, we automatically think of all these different scenarios. However, to understand “what” the future entails, we must clarify the “why” that encourages it. In other words, before setting future solutions, we have to pinpoint the issues at hand. So, instead of basing the future of architecture on science fiction and utopic visions, what are the current problems to be addressed, and how should we solve them?

Sustainability

Some are already talking about building on Mars using 3D printing strategies. However, quoting Bjarke Ingels, “It seems that the same principles and the exact same systems that will allow us to live on Mars will be the very same that will allow us to be great custodians on Earth.” (Sambiasi, 2021); so before projecting ourselves to Mars, let’s think of how to save our planet. Indeed, the building industry is behind most of the CO2 emissions in the atmosphere. That is not only due to the excessive use of energy in buildings, but also it is strongly related to the construction and design process. From the choice of materials to their quantity and transportation requirements: everything matters. For that, it’s crucial to start using locally sourced materials, to abandon excessive use of glass, and to start trusting the climate to guide our designs. In other words, it is fundamental to learn from the past to build our future. Take vernacular buildings as an example: they aren’t just a role model in terms of efficiency and climate responsiveness, but their rooted and intricate connection to their site makes them unique. In the future, sustainability should stop being a fashion trend. Sustainability is more than a hashtag. It is our way of life, our ticket to regaining architectural identity.

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Originality in sustainability : Myrtle Garden hotel_©Studio Precht

Health and Social Problematics

The second issue that inevitably comes to mind after the pandemic is health. One thing this year has rendered us grateful is health. For the future of architecture, issues related to social and health sciences should be seriously taken. Architecture should be apt to cater to a healthy, clean and comfortable environment. But, when we talk about health, it’s not solely about germs and diseases. Mental health is also crucial to our wellbeing, and buildings have the power to influence it. Well-studied lighting and well-ventilated spaces. can lift not only your mood but also your productivity. (Cutieru, 2021) The fact that we need a pandemic to remember this is proof of how much we postpone issues to “the future” when the future is just around the corner. Architecture is multidisciplinary and people-centred. Architects are not just designing moments and functions. They are setting the tone for future health conditions, social interactions, and productivity. Architecture is not an object. It is a living mechanism, a process that is constantly rebuilt and revived by its users. Therefore, economy, social sciences, psychology are not added accessories to our understanding of architecture. Quite the opposite, they should become one of our priorities. Indeed, the future of architecture is nothing but multidisciplinary. 

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The influence of architecture in shaping us_©Francesco Paleari

Inclusivity with 3D Printing

Another pressing issue is the ability to build quickly to respond to sudden and urgent matters. 2020 has witnessed refugees seeking shelter, people losing their homes in a matter of sec following the Beirut Blast, hospitals needing to quickly build new extensions facing the surging numbers of covid cases. Most of these issues cannot be foreseen. Nonetheless, thinking of 3d printing as a possible future for architecture could open the door, quite literally, to swiftly rebuild many people’s homes. Not only are these homes fast and efficient (in terms of the environment) to build, but they are also cheap. (Nielsen, 2020) Urgently, the future of architecture should be human. It shouldn’t be about the most luxurious and costly architecture, but it should be oriented towards inclusivity. The architecture of the future regains its lost connection with its initial meaning: shelter. The future doesn’t lose creativity in the face of poverty; it extends a helping hand.

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3D printed house in Austin, Texas, affordable and built in 27 hours_©Regan Morton

Artificial Intelligence (AI)

Lastly, we can’t mention the future of architecture without mentioning BIM modelling and artificial intelligence. One of the biggest enemies of an architect is time. We want more time designing, more time to improve our work, but we have to allocate an irreplaceable amount of time to drawings and renderings. With new AI technologies, deliverables would require a shorter amount of time, whereas more time would be open for other improvements and additions to our design. (Pedersen, 2021) That implies that the future would ideally make our enemy an ally, offering us more time to invest in creativity, innovation, and problem-solving skills, without losing quality or precision.

AI, opening doors to creativity: The Museum of the Future, Dubai_©Dubai World Trade Center

Hence, what is the future of architecture? It is environmental, social, political, technological. It is a problem-based approach that revolves around improvement, innovation, and uniqueness. The future isn’t a utopia; it is a pressing reality. What’s implied isn’t a timeframe of 50 years, 20 years, five years, or even a year. It isn’t in a matter of months, weeks, or days. You never know what the next second holds. So, instead of daydreaming about what might happen in an uncertain time frame, it’s time to plan and act. Why? Because the future of architecture is now.

References:

  1. Cutieru, A., 2021. How Social Sciences Shape the Built Environment. [online] ArchDaily. Available at: <https://www.archdaily.com/962538/how-social-sciences-shape-the-built-environment> [Accessed 25 June 2021].
  2. Nielsen, D., 2020. Community First! 3D-Printed Houses by ICON and Mobile Loaves & Fishes. [online] Dwell. Available at: <https://www.dwell.com/article/community-first-3d-printed-houses-icon-mobile-loaves-and-fishes-3f950815> [Accessed 25 June 2021].
  3. Pedersen, M., 2021. An Optimist’s Take on AI and the Future of Architecture. [online] ArchDaily. Available at: <https://www.archdaily.com/961547/an-optimists-take-on-ai-and-the-future-of-architecture> [Accessed 25 June 2021].
  4. Sambiasi, S., 2021. The New Space Race: 6 Challenges for Extraterrestrial Architecture. [online] ArchDaily. Available at: <https://www.archdaily.com/928955/the-new-space-race-6-challenges-for-extraterrestrial-architecture?ad_source=search&ad_medium=search_result_all> [Accessed 25 June 2021].

Images List:

  1. Dubai World Trade Center, 2021. The Museum of the Future, Dubai. [image] Available at: <https://www.dwtc.com/en/industry-insights/artificial-intelligence-meets-architecture> [Accessed 25 June 2021].
  2. Morton, R., 2019. 3D-printed welcome center in Austin, Texas. [image] Available at: <https://www.dwell.com/article/community-first-village-3d-printed-affordable-homes-icon-524fc3ad> [Accessed 25 June 2021].
  3. Paleari, F., 2014. Milano’s Profile. [image] Available at: <https://www.art-spire.com/photographie/amazing-milanos-profile-by-francesco-paleari/> [Accessed 25 June 2021].
  4. Studio Precht, n.d. The Myrtle Garden Hotel. [image] Available at: <https://www.precht.at/the-myrtle-garden-hotel/> [Accessed 25 June 2021].
Author

Myriam Soubra is an architecture student at the American University of Beirut. She is minoring in urban studies and art history. She loves the multidisciplinary aspect of architecture and is interested in how different fields could enhance the design process and the design outcome.

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