We may not yet have flying cars, but technology has certainly left a mark and is a true factor that affects the future of Urban Design and Architecture trends. Architecture is an inseparable part of human culture and can give huge insight into human’s history – it can tell a lot about each period of history much like any other kind of art, because the general ideology of the period is always reflected in it. So, how have architects, planners, inventors and other designers contributed to our society in the past year? Let’s take a look.
Sustainability as a Norm
It is good news to acknowledge the massive shift from careless consumerism to smart solutions that are improving modern living. Being resourceful and sustainable today is the number one trend – and I think that it’s an understatement to call it just that; in fact, it should be a part of everyday life for everyone. Exuberance, wastefulness and ownership are the thing of the past, and now is the time to celebrate the collective intent for creating a better world for the next generations.
The society as a whole has met eye-to-eye with the most intimidating problems that have emerged over the past century: pollution, lack of resources, and other environmental, agricultural and economic issues. A massive growth in population, consumption, urbanization, and little to no awareness about the environment has led to problems we face today – but that’s about to change. The most evident examples of creative resourcefulness are sustainable energy sources, vehicles that emit little to no gas, practical architecture designs that save more space, new and creative ways of recycling, investing in renewable energy technology, urban renewal and farming projects, 3D printing, and a growing popularity in leading sustainable businesses.
Smart & Sensitive Urban Planning
People have become more aware of the effects of urban design on infrastructure and society as a whole. Urban design today isn’t only defined by large-scale architecture – it is a combination of forces that affect each other constantly. Political, environmental, economic and socio-cultural forces are shaping up the real new urban planning in a way that they complement each other. Design has taken ecology into account, and bottom-up approach to design that has been influenced by communities is shaping up to be the better and more efficient way of urban planning. Public spaces are becoming more appealing, efficient and eco-friendly, all the while responding to the needs of the public.
Technology is giving us a huge advantage when it comes to urban design: although it enables more privatization and introversion, it can also go outwards – planning is becoming more humane and sensitive to social justice, equity and minority. Planners of the future are in for a lot of work – social science fields are affecting the way we shape our urban environment, and instead of fighting it, they have to embrace it.
The most notable example of that synergy is “Tinder for Cities”, an app which enables city authorities to assess public opinion on literally everything in the city – from small projects like parking spaces and murals, to big ones like potential commercial or residential buildings. The app is fairly easy to use – you’re presented with an image and info on a potential urban planning project and you just swipe “yes” or “no”. The app will make it so much easier and cost-effective for authorities to consult with the public, as opposed to filling out countless forms, questionnaires, sending e-mails or hiring a volunteer with a clipboard. It’s much more transparent, as well as inclusive and more appealing to the public.
If there’s one piece of technology that has been most notable and mentioned throughout the year, it’s the use of VR/AR software. It’s coming to us in various forms – from gaming to businesses, and it’s shaping all fields in new directions we’ve just discovered. VR today is and can be used more effectively in the future in medicine, science and education, real-estate and interior design, retail and logistics... You name it, we can find a use for it.
VR (Virtual Reality) enables us to venture into a virtual world – we could literally take a 3D virtual tour of a house we want to buy, for example. Meanwhile, AR (Augmented Reality) takes shopping to a new level with only one Android device – reviewing products made easier with just a push of a button. Both AR and VR software personalize shopping experiences, make customer service easier and better, and can involve customers in the product design.
The thing that is the most interesting is that it appeals to the younger public – young adults and teens show more interest in VR/AR and therefore, businesses have a wider audience, especially in retail. Businesses today need to understand that they need to go hand-in-hand with the IT industry if they want to succeed in the market, and this year has been a major ride so far.
The environment has a huge impact on architecture in the past few years, especially in the field of landscape. Climate change has been the all-around topic of every blog and media for decades, but the good news is that in recent time, more and more discussions are being opened about climate change solutions and adaptation. Increasing population density in developed (and developing) cities is influencing major solutions being implemented at a wider scale. Designs and projects are vastly inspired by nature and sustainability, in an attempt to preserve and nourish local nature and/or emulate it.
This also applies to the city infrastructure – over population can be put to a manageable level with diversified transport modes, such as ride-sharing and autonomous vehicles, which can reduce road lanes and the need for parking spots, making room for more improvements (for example, more room for bike lanes and other alternative transport). This creates a new issue for landscape architecture, since there will be an increase in demands for pickup and drop-off areas at stations, airports and commercial districts.
Strong and sustainable building is the number one trend in architecture, which will probably represent our period for years to come.
- First most notable trend are timber buildings, very high-quality, durable and sustainable buildings – as much as any other steel or concrete building. The most notable example of this trend is the all-timber building in Brisbane, with constructions starting earlier this summer and an estimate of completion in late 2018. The building will be 52 metres tall with nine storeys and will serve as a commercial hub.
- Exposed brick and hand-made bricks. New technology has enabled us to create high-quality bricks that don’t look like simple manufactured ones, and architects all around are embracing it as a new hot trend. As for interior, the new modern look mimics those of warehouse buildings or buildings under construction with Edison bulbs and exposed brick walls, or more precisely, an accent wall that certainly gives flavour and texture in a space.
- Plants, gardens on building roofs, green balconies, and everything green has taken over urban architecture. It comes as a result of raised awareness of our environment, so more and more people are practising sustainability and being green.
- Minimalistic designs have never gone out of style – we have the simple cubic forms for buildings, which are still popular because of practicality and symmetry, while also at the same time they look elegant. Let’s not forget invisible architecture; as it has taken over architecture by storm, with reflective and see-through surfaces, as well as exterior that mimics the surrounding environment.
So, how do you feel about these trends? The good news is that most of these are concerning about the environment and we are leaning in more into ways to help the nature around us, reduce waste and improve the overall quality of life for the generations to come. It doesn’t apply to only architecture and urban planning – it’s in all segments of society, businesses nowadays have to become “green”, in order to appeal to customers more and individuals all around are raising awareness daily. What do you think? Are going in the right direction for the upcoming year of 2018? Share your thoughts with us in the comments.