Architecture 2020

Architecture 2020

Article by Jo Hansford
Thursday 25 March 2010

Tags energy, environment, future

What will the role of the architect be in 2020 and beyond? 

As students of architecture this concerns us the most. It’s not just about what kind of architecture do you want to design, but also what kind of place do you want to live in? 
If we want to succeed as young architects and designers, shouldn’t we be thinking not only about architecture today but about architecture of the future – after all we are the ones going to design it! 

Firstly, sustainability. Whether climate changes happens or not sustainability will still be a big part of our future, there will be more people needing more food, water and space. I hope that in 10 years time the green fashion has grown up and become sexy. Currently, buildings are being designed to perform environmentally at the expense of beautiful spaces; they should do both. 

Personally I think being sustainable is more about changing our behaviour than living in eco houses. If we build a super insulated, recycled cardboard box, house with solar panels and recycled water, then drive into town everyday to buy food from the other side of the world it doesn’t make sense. Living in “eco” homes in the future will be more about Living together, close to amenities and making our current building stock perform well thus saving people money.

Another way to look at becoming a sustainably minded architect is to think about our future users, who are you designing for in the future and how can you improve their life, helping them make a smaller impact. Ask yourself, are you designing a building that promotes sustainable or unsustainable behaviour? 

Of course other things will become common sense like for example reducing construction waste. Thinking about a buildings lifecycle will be important especially when in 10-20yrs we will have to deal with the glass tower blocks of the last decade that no longer fit our needs.
Between the virtual world and reality; where do architects stand? As our online communities grow and become more sophisticated what is going to happen to the built environment that we actually exist in? I think this is a huge challenge for designers. It is our duty to develop a reality that appeals to all the senses and the human condition, in a way that the online world will never be able to fulfil. Furthermore, as the role of the architect becomes more ambiguous I think there is a need for architects to return to what they are good at - making spaces and places for people, whether this is online or down the road.

In the future I hope to see architecture made available to everyone, starting with the inclusion of architecture and design thinking earlier in our education. If people have a better understanding of architect they will demand better quality. Also, there is the potential for us to use the IKEA methodology to bring architecture to a wider range of people. 

And finally I think it’s important to think about what we will be building and where. As the demand for space increases architects will have to find creative ways to utilise the existing build stock. What buildings will have come to the end of their lives? For me the answer is back to our future users, I think places like hospitals and schools, where technology has changed the environment and people’s behaviour so dramatically, we will have to completely rethink the way we design them. 

One final question, perhaps more importantly than “what will our lives and role as an architect be in the future” ask “how are we going to get there?” We have grown up with great advances in technology, creating perhaps, the beginning of a new generation of architects – where do we want to lead them?

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Submitted by Jo Hansford1 Articles
Published on Thursday 25 March 2010View Profile