A global process associated with a strong influence of its international style and scale and its impact on a profession with profound cohesivity to various contextual attributes – is the elaborate theme in the discussion here. 

Globalization has its trace from the days of the Silk Route trade. It is “a process integrating not just the economy but culture, technology, and governance,” as defined by the United Nations Development Program. It has accelerated to what it is today, a continuous process instantaneously interconnecting people beyond places, vastly enhancing a fundamental criterion, accessibility. Subsequent influence over economic, cultural, social, and political aspects has been evident along its widespread evolution and thus impacting various occupations. Global growth also extends a thorough influence on the architectural profession by indirectly shaping the culture itself.    

Design processes, expressions, and architectural messages are altered at a global level, giving in to this evolution. The fast-paced lifestyle and technological advancements have gone beyond setting trends to creating standardized methods to identify, approach, and solve human requirements. Perspectives of globalization are either with the motive to defend and conserve indigenous traditions and techniques or to westernize and promote inventions along with hybridization and modern technologies. The network of global relations has increased the overall flow of culture, consumption, fashion, and lifestyle with a necessity to constantly keep pace with emerging trends and technology. 

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Globalization  Its impact On Architectural Profession_©HongKong’s Skyline Displaying The International Style©architectsjournal.co.uk

The architectural profession has emerged more flexible as a practice with rapid modernization, with an added interest among students to study the discipline from a foreigner’s view. Architects work across projects at a global scale with the developments in sharing and networking tools without having the compulsion to set up physical, local offices. The same goes beyond optimizing the economic stance to further diversify the design approach and practice with global styles and technologies. Statistics indicate a 500% increase in the number of Global Architectural Firms between 1990 & 2006, of which 83% were Anglophone Global Firms in 2006. With more opportunities and scope for unique work under various domains of architecture, the gradual shift towards a global outlook has almost directed the practice to circle within a buffet of designs, in the words of Anthony Giddens, a homogenizing process. 

Culture and geographical context play a significant role in influencing architecture. It has organically helped originate & shape distinct architectural styles representing communities, settlements, and their various social dimensions over a long period. Modernist & Post–Modernist Styles are a few among several others that reflect otherwise, the age of globalization. Adopting the global culture of commerce and design under a new functional type of architectural design has been evident ever since. The result is a widespread practice driven by brands, franchises, businesses, and market opportunities. This shift to a design and development approach has diminished the ecological phase of the architectural profession. 

Globalization Its impact on Architectural Profession_©Changing Perceptions Of Globalization ©imd.org

Eventually, the motive to make extraordinary from the ordinary as architects for spatial development has devalued. It is now extensively driven by assembling new products differently, an approach based on product/resource arrangement and order. The definition of quality in architecture is thus transforming at a similar rate. A profession extended on a primary human need, a shelter for protection and comfort is now a rudimentary aspect of the practice. 

As for the advantages of this on the architectural profession, technological advancement of construction methods has helped significantly improve the living environment. In turn, this contributes to a successful international image, encouraging potential investors from global markets. Solutions to high-density urban issues by implementing design strategies such as the tall building typology is a boon. The invaluable resource of time is predominantly reduced owing to faster methods of investigating, approaching, and solving spatial requirements. On the contrary, a certain uniformity in design is vastly promoted, resulting in the construction of a generic world. On the urban scale, centralized and rapid urbanization is adapted. A lack of identity in a place and a deterioration in its overall quality is the result. All this, in a nutshell, is a slow decay of the vibrant history of cities, buildings, and their stories.  

The common ground here is to establish urbanism driven by the harmony of history and structure, keeping in mind the past, present, and future. Opportunities kept open to nurturing local talents are an allied way to improve contextual designing in the longer run. Putting aside efficiency and focusing on the optimization of technology is another strategy to enhance various environmental performances and impacts. It is important to consider the ecological,  social, and cultural representations along with the economic aspects of architecture to positively transform the influence of globalization on the architectural profession. This includes minimizing the use of imported materials and avoiding centralized urban developments to maintain a social and spatial balance. 

Architecture characterized by reflecting the essential social set-up with globalization as a navigation tool towards a conscious future is thus a responsibility to be undertaken by all budding and practicing professionals to ensure a holistic balance. 

Citations for websites:

Vanham, P. (2019). A brief history of globalization. [online] World Economic Forum. Available at: https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2019/01/how-globalization-4-0-fits-into-the-history-of-globalization/.

‌JJ-Street Baltic Session. (2019). Impact involving Globalisation on Architecture. [online] Available at: http://balticsession.com/blog/impact-involving-globalisation-on-architecture-2/

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Eldemery, I.M. (2009). GLOBALIZATION CHALLENGES IN ARCHITECTURE. Journal of Architectural and Planning Research, [online] 26(4), pp.343–354. Available at: https://www.jstor.org/stable/43030883?read-now=1&oauth_data=eyJlbWFpbCI6Imxha3NobWkuc3BhbW1haWxzQGdtYWlsLmNvbSIsImluc3RpdHV0aW9uSWRzIjpbXX0&seq=2#page_scan_tab_contents

[Accessed 9 Oct. 2022].

‌Boston Society for Architecture. (n.d.). Magazine Story Theme Landing. [online] Available at: https://www.architects.org/magazine/themes.

‌Architect (2010). Changing Trends in Architecture due to Globalization. [online] Architecture Student Chronicles. Available at: https://www.architecture-student.com/architecture/changing-trends-in-architecture-due-to-globalization/

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Author

Lakshmi Sundaram is an architect, muralist and graphic designer with an atypical and interdisciplinary outlook. Design being her finest channel of expression, strong narratives direct her work across all domains. Precisely, an aspiring little drop in a mighty ocean of design revolutions.

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