The very fabric of our modern world is built upon ideas– a thought, turned into a sketch, into a design, into a rendering – brought to life by architects, engineers, façade designers, manufacturers and contractors that weave together to create the very buildings we inhabit.
However, thoughts seldom materialize on their own; there are certain drivers, specific to a time, that influence the ‘global precepts of architecture’ and embed themselves into the minds of those enigmatic people that are redefining skylines across the globe. The socio-economic context of architecture is in constant flux – from the Industrial Revolution that propelled Neoclassical Architecture to Modernism spurred on by wartime innovation and postwar reconstruction – architecture is, and will always be, a reflection of our society. So begs the question, what are the key trends and driving factors today?
You only have to cast your eyes on buildings to feel the presence of the past, the spirit of a place; they are the reflection of society.”― I. M. Pei.
A heightened sense of urgency surrounding climate change is driving a new epoch of sustainable building design. The industry, with one of the largest carbon footprints in the world, has proclaimed its steadfast resolution to a sustainable future, exemplified by a number of key trends that are influencing architecture of today: adaptive reuse, biophilic design, vertical gardens, circular economy, zero-to-net carbon and passive building design are no longer vague concepts, they are ingrained into current architectural vernacular, with practical examples built and functioning around the globe. Adaptive and resilient are now critical considerations in the design phase of a project, particularly in light of increasing natural disasters and a global pandemic that has affected every facet of our existence.
Rising populations in the finite space we call earthhas necessitated a shift towards vertical, multifunctional and connected design. Multi-use buildings which are adaptable and modular are gaining prevalence, and we are seeing increasingly creative ways of using the space available. Not only do we see enlightened ideas about dense, socially diverse, democratically engaged cities, but also the way we inhabit buildings and move through space. From multi-functional ‘sky- bridges’ to horizontal skyscrapers this transition to the skies has only just begun.
Technology has already become a necessity to the application of knowledge across all industries, and architecture is no exception. With the rise of The Internet of Things (IoT) to BIM, virtual reality, robotics, parametric design, automation, advanced HVAC systems, smart cities and 3D printing, architects and engineers are mastering data and utilizing innovative technologies to construct ever more complex, connected and efficient buildings. Finely-tuned technological systems have merged with human ingenuity and creativity allowing us to rethink the way in which we develop, apply and operate our designs. Through technological advancements, there is a wealth of opportunity to modernize our cities and industry. This modernization must be sustainable and innovative, rising to the challenges posed by climate change and the integration of technology to create something fitting and lasting for generations to come.
“Architecture is an expression of values—the way we build is a reflection of the way we live. This is why vernacular tradition and the historical layers of a city are so fascinating, as every era produces its own vocabulary.”– Sir Norman Foster
The built environment can facilitate or impede an individual’s ability to not only participate, but thrive, in society. Design that responds to the economic, ecological, cultural and social needs of end-users is fundamental to inclusive architecture. The imperative for this people-centric approach that also improves human health and psychological wellbeing has established itself as pre-requisite in current design thinking. From the office, to home, infrastructure and public spaces – we see a shift towards catering to human needs, above all else.
Today we view the concrete tower blocks of the 20th century as striking remnants of city’s past, very much a product of their own era, reflecting a time when public priorities were quite different to those of today. In 50 years, the buildings we currently view as modern will, again, reflect an era when attitudes and concerns were different to those of the contemporary times.
All of the above sounds a bit vague, like the inspirational but vaporous language one hears at professional symposiums and TED Talks. We need architecture that is sustainable, flexible, adaptive, responsive and local, but without being parochial. But we also need architecture that is cosmopolitan and smart, engaged and connected. It seems we want an architecture that does everything. But what does that look like in real life?
In the pages of the Asia Pacific Edition of IGS Magazine, you will bear witness to exemplary projects, technologies, and thought-leadership that have put this rhetoric into practice. Our eternal gratitude goes to those who sacrificed much of their valuable time spending hours preparing articles exclusively for all the beautiful men and women who read IGS – Thank you!
Marketing Director and Editor for IGS Magazine
This article was originally published in the newly released IGS Asia-Pacific 2020 Special Edition: Read the full Magazine here for more thought-leadership from those spearheading the industry
Cover Image: Darren Nunis on Unsplash