Like everything else in life, building methods, and materials change over time. Discoveries improve our processes, and this holds as true in architecture as it does in any other industry. You probably never imagined walking into your house and having the thermostat already set to the right temperature, or tapping a button on a screen and having the garage door open. Yet these things are everyday occurrences in today’s world. While we may not be headed straight into a futuristic existence, there are some fascinating building concepts poised to transform the design scene in the next decade. Here are a few of these exciting new developments.
As water levels become more unpredictable, forward-thinking builders in other countries are looking to turn this unpleasant reality into a positive. The Netherlands is leading the charge with a housing development built on artificial islands in the IJ River. The homes are contemporary and spacious, relieving some of the area’s housing shortage problem.
Other countries are taking notice, and consulting with Dutch experts on ways to exploit aquatic designs to solve their own building issues. Dutch architect Kunle Adeyemi has been contracted to design buildings for coastal Africa, including a radio station and a floating school. Britain and the United States are also joining the trend, drawing on the expertise of Dutch water management specialists to address housing issues in their own nations.
While joining two buildings with a walkway or similar structure is not a new concept, the idea has been evolving in recent years. A proposed project in Paris plans to connect two 58-story buildings with – brace yourself – a transparent-bottom swimming pool. The design, called Skyframe, was pioneered by architect Tommaso Bernabo Silorata and won the Paris Sky Pool contest in 2015. A similar project is being planned near Battersea Power Station in London where the transparent swimming pool would be suspended between two ten-story apartment buildings.
Engineered and laminated timber is being hailed as better than both concrete and steel for sustainability, quality, and construction speed. In London, the town of Shoreditch boasts the tallest laminated timber building in Europe, a 10-story apartment block. In Portland, Oregon, a 12-story mixed-use wooden tower will be the tallest of its kind in the United States. The drawings indicate a slightly retro core wrapped up in a sleek, modern package, with the beauty of the timber visible on both the exterior and the interior.
Open floor plans have dominated the residential scene for the past few years. The demand for spacious, airy common areas has been in high demand as families attempt to connect through living spaces in an increasingly distracting world. But this trend appears to be changing. While most layouts still contain shared living spaces for eating and socializing, designs show increasingly smaller private areas, sliding partitions, and separate rooms for watching television rather than entertainment taking place in the public area.
Naturally, the ability to continuously stay connected and control more and more elements of our living spaces will continue into the next decade and beyond. Technology is gradually taking on an even larger role in building design and construction. While movies have long depicted the world being destroyed by robots, most experts predict robotics will assist in construction rather than destruction.
Designer Joris Laarman has designed a footbridge to be built in Amsterdam via 3D printing by robots. It may be difficult to imagine a 3D printed structure that can support the weight of humans – or robots for that matter – but it will actually be made out of steel, with the machines starting on one bank and moving along to the other, using the bridge as their pathway.
This concept comes on the heels of hybrid robotic cranes (known as “crabots”) being used to help in the expansion of Google’s Mountain View, CA headquarters. According to industry insiders, 3D printing could lead to entirely new structural shapes and improved joints. This opens up the architecture industry to new building elements, leading not only to better buildings, but also reduced danger to construction workers if robots are used for the most hazardous tasks.
SUSTAINABILITY AND CONSERVATION
The focus on sustainable living and greener building materials and methods will likely continue for the foreseeable future, as well. Methods to achieve greener living include the use of motion-activated lighting systems to minimize energy use, and cross-ventilated design, particularly in high rises, which allows the building’s occupants to take advantage of the light and air provided by nature. Water conservation is also a major focus of future design. Features that contribute to saving water include specialty fixtures designed to reduce water use, and the use of rainwater and greywater to power construction sites.
History shows that it is impossible to predict which trends will last and which will fade away. Regardless of what the test of time, it is useful to know what innovations the design community is exploring. Perhaps you have a project that can benefit from one of these emerging developments!
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