By Guest Writer:
Every era of civilization is marked by a distinct style of architecture and the reason why is best summed up by Frank Lloyd Wright, the most famous architecture of recent times:
“Every great architect is — necessarily — a great poet. He must be a great original interpreter of his time, his day, his age.”
Architecture is more than art; it is a defining characteristic of changing culture. By keeping an eye on emerging trends in architecture, we can catch glimpses of our future cities.
Refining and Sophisticating
Urbanization has been in effect for decades in the West, but in the Far East, the deluge of citizens into cities is relatively new. Massive construction efforts in China have created demand for architects, who have taken the opportunity to design large, ostentatious buildings that businesses happily bought. However, as the real estate market becomes stronger and more stable, such outrageous structures will likely disappear. Chinese taste is turning toward the subtle and sophisticated, which is likely to be mirrored in cities around the world.
The past few decades have seen architecture transform into starchitecture. Buildings in cities around the world have drawn attention to themselves with eye-catching, wow-inducing design. One of the most frequently cited examples of this is the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain designed by Frank Gehry in 1997. The structure is absolutely stunning; its silver curves reflect the light beautifully, and millions of people travel to the city every year just to see this monument of artistic architecture — instead of the art it contains. Major metropolises in China are also guilty of containing dozens of buildings that fit the starchitecture bill.
However, architects have begun moving away from “design for design’s sake.” Already, we are beginning to see buildings that better facilitate their purpose, whatever that might be. Though, this is not to suggest that architects are moving back toward brutalism. Rather, they are attempting to create attractive structures that fulfil their objective efficiently and are softer on the environment. Like the move toward fabric structures for industrial use, which reduces the creation of permanent buildings when that isn’t needed, while also being more sustainable minded.
Collaborating With Sciences
With this turn toward purpose-driven design, architects will require input from other professionals who better understand human behavior. Sociologists, anthropologists, and other social scientists have begun to work closely with architects to maximize the usefulness of various spaces. In fact, architectural firm NBBJ already boasts an in-house environmental scientist who collaborates on projects that necessitate specialized knowledge on technically effective design. Some architects suspect that, in the near future, collaboration with policy makers will be commonplace, so architects can inspire change through buildings.
The trend toward eco-friendliness has infiltrated every industry, including architecture and construction, much to the excitement of many architects. Soon, we will see more structures that better incorporate natural elements into the spaces we use every day. Advances in sustainable technology have allowed for a number of natural building materials, from rammed earth to cross-laminated timber to wool bricks.
Additionally, we should expect to see more actual nature in structures of the future. Perhaps the most exciting examples of this is the pending Zaryadye Park in Moscow, Russia, which is a full park — replete with various micro-climates — held within an enclosed glass building. The goal is to balance nature and culture, creating a “wild urbanism” where both people and wildlife are welcome.
Cities have finite space, but more and more people flock to urban areas, necessitating a change in the way cities organize their space. The result is mixed-use development, which combines public and private spaces to make living and working in a city easier for everyone. Traditionally, cities zoned different regions as “residential,” “commercial,” and “industrial,” but in mixed-use, these functions are intermixed on the same city block. This makes cities more walkable, keeping residents (and cities) happier and healthier overall.
Experimenting With Technology
Everyone has better access to technology than ever before — architects included — which means the buildings of the future are going to be even more rich in tech. Smart homes and buildings integrated with useful tech will soon be the norm, but many architects are looking for even more applications of advanced technology. In some instances, this tech will keep buildings (and the people in them) safer, like in Dionisio Gonzalez’s imagined natural disaster–proof homes, and more energy efficient, as is the case with Dynamic Architecture’s rotating skyscraper. No one can predict exactly what tech we will see in the buildings of the future, but like most architecture nerds, we can hardly wait to find out.