The world is changing fast, and all good architects know they must stay in tune with its evolution, constantly adapting their thinking to respond to new social, technological, and environmental conditions at every scale. These complex issues demand increasingly innovative solutions from designers in order to assure that the built environment is economical, sustainable, and comfortable for its inhabitants, responding not only to their practical needs, but also to their political and social values.
The question is: what can today’s architecture teach us about how the best in the profession are designing for these big issues?
“Digital experiences now pervade almost every aspect of daily experiences. Thanks to the ubiquity of smartphones and other connected devices, people are now able to tap into more information about themselves and those around them than ever before. This interconnectivity blurs the boundaries between life, work and play, and facilitates collaboration over any distance. The pushback to the connected lifestyle has also been observed as people value increasingly scarce private time and escapes from technology.”
Influencing factors changing architecture on an urban scale includes our working patterns. The freelance economy is booming, many homes now doubling up as offices. This change, in turn, is affecting work/life integration, and mixed residential, commercial, and social programs are increasingly becoming common.
In relation to our online age, the need for digital respite (space away from the internet, phones, and other electronic devices) is increasingly called for, while privacy is also a key concern. How can architecture respond to issues of transparency and concealment in both physical and digital environments?
“More and more people are growing up in a truly global marketplace. Those who participate have a broader awareness of the world and their ability to impact it. Millennials and subsequent generations are growing up partaking in the sharing economy, demanding transparency from organizations, and voting with their dollars. Knowledge of social and environmental issues is compelling millennials and future generations to make even small decisions with an eye for the greater good.”
As a result of the first driving force — our increasingly connected society — a new generation of architects is emerging for whom environmentalism and sustainability is a top priority, and they are seeking to integrate these factors at the outset of the design process.
The internet has also given birth to a more democratic design process. Community empowerment is greater than ever, and everyone is able to have a voice in architecture and the built environment. The sharing economy in architecture is also taking off; social media campaigns and crowdfunded projects are ever more popular as ways for small firms and nonprofits to make waves in the profession.
“People around the world are experiencing the increased strain on resources brought on by population growth and urbanization. While the growth of cities has birthed an energetic urban identity, it has also inspired an appreciation for older, natural constructions incorporating existing buildings and landscapes.”
As a result of these evolving conditions, architects must now consider ever more efficient modes of design. Due to resource scarcity, there is a growing urbanization as a result of which energy, water, and space can be shared, recycled, and adapted as necessary. This urbanization has also led to a greater focus on the creative reuse and retrofitting of old buildings as well as a rural resurgence with a growing number of people transforming agricultural architecture into striking residential spaces.