The YouTube documentary film by the channel Free Documentary “Flexible Buildings: The Future of Architecture” is an informative documentary that introduces us to the people working and trying to find solutions regarding the pressing issues of extreme urbanization that has led to unplanned and under-designed cities for the fast-rising statistics of overpopulation. We all are aware of the expanding city boundaries and slum areas of various metropolitan cities of India, Africa, and Latin America. Cities have an upper limit. There is an immense demand for the construction of new buildings for the next 15 to 20 years that equals the number of buildings built in Europe in the last 200 years. And this is just one of the problems.
It is our utmost responsibility to act now to save the future and its alarming impacts on our physical, mental and emotional growth. This documentary film informs us about how people from various backgrounds like Architects, Engineers, Urban Planners, and Politicians are looking for answers to some of these pressing issues of our present and future. The goal is to live together in a healthy and sustainable environment, including all the other living organisms of our planet Earth.
Cities for people are their hope for new beginnings, new opportunities, stories of great successes, a city in all of our conceptions of modern life. Made of steel, glass, and concrete, it holds the wealth and power to transform one’s standards of living. Overpopulation is the first and foremost urban problem. As said by the narrator- ‘when many people dream of the same place, the space for dreaming becomes scarce’; a city has its limits of productive produce and supply in terms of economy and culture.
Rahul Mehrotra, an Indian Architect (born in the metro city of Mumbai) and Urban Planning expert, teaches about the future of cities at the Harvard Graduate school of design. He talks about the n number of growing complications of urban densification where the cities expand vertically; countless high-rise residential units are crammed into a very small geographical space or expand outward, covering more and more of the agricultural land. This has led to social deprivation, and to break the current stereotypical idea of a city, people at all levels should engage in rethinking the design of our future cities.
An Architect, Max Schwitalla from Berlin, has come up with design visions of what the future city could look like. At first glance, his designs seem utopian but are fully functional and depict the living spaces of entire neighbourhoods. Each design focuses on enhancing the healthy interaction and social lifestyle of people. Basic and necessary infrastructures are placed as a single superordinate structure, and the space in between is flexible to design according to the use and owner’s taste. Meeting spaces at various levels ensure social sustainability. Schwitalla’s architecture studio also works together with mobility sectors to provide new sustainable transport.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s study group ‘city science’, led by Kent Larsen, is researching ways to make the place and communities more livable for its inhabitants. They are trying to reinvent the process of using one technological platform in order to conduct simulations and decisions about the land use plans of a neighbourhood. They are also working on innovations in robotic interiors where they try to increase the flexibility of functions that can be performed in a single room.
Another pressing issue discussed in this documentary is the demand for construction materials, and sand is one of the major natural resources that is required here. The demand for the type of sand to make cement for construction has led to the disappearance of riverbeds. To make the best use of available resources, in a small town in the German state of Thuringia, two friends have created a new building material called Polymer Concrete which includes desert sand and polyester resin made of recycled PET bottles. They manufacture construction bricks shaped like Lego bricks which are completely non-absorbent, release nothing into the environment and essentially will last forever. Also, the production process requires no water.
The narrator in the film is trying to convey that the challenges we are facing today and tomorrow require new ways of thinking of new solutions, especially in the field of architecture and planning. People need to work together from all fields of disciplines such as philosophy, politics, business, geography, sociology and many more to inspire the designs of architects. Architecture has the potential to absorb and transform things for something new to emerge.
Watching this documentary film expanded my perspective towards urban design and planning. Before watching the documentary, I was aware of considering society while designing and building the urban context according to the current technology and lifestyle. However, after watching the documentary, I learned that to design for the future of our cities, I should not just consider all the current technological habits of the people, but design in a way where many new and healthy technological innovations can be implemented and deduction of the unnecessary overuse of harmful technology takes place.
www.youtube.com. (n.d.). Flexible Buildings: The Future of Architecture | Free Documentary. [online] Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sw9zpH717ts.