Architecture is always looking towards the future and it is important for those who have been in the industry for many years, as well as those just entering the profession, to keep in mind new trends, new techniques, and potentially new ways to develop cities and architecture as an art form over the coming decades. What areas are likely to pose a challenge specifically to the architecture world over the coming years?
The biggest challenge is apparent to everyone and concerns the environmental impact that we, as humans, have had and continue to have on the planet. Starting immediately, and running into the coming decades it will be vital for there to be a change of approach towards an environmentally conscious style of architecture. Within the EU all homes built after 2020 must be built to consume zero energy. With this form of mandate, it does help control the shift in focus, but as architecture has been relatively late to jump on board with the green outlook it might have taken something like this to make sure. Modern architecture must be about designing and building homes in ways that reduce energy consumption, builds water-saving systems, has better insulation, and lasts for much longer utilising sustainable materials wherever possible.
Another challenge is how to get in line with the principles of recycling and reuse. A solution must be found to ensure that there is a drastic reduction in the environmental impact of construction in all its forms. Construction and demolition are responsible for large percentages of solid waste in developed countries, and this must stop. It is important for architecture to help the construction world move away from the process of production, build, use, throw away (or demolish), and start again.
A shift in approach can already be seen in the significant increase in the numbers of renovation projects being undertaken rather than heading straight for demolition. Derelict buildings or old buildings about to be discarded by private or public enterprises, can be repurposed with clever architecture and design. The downturn in the economy has had an impact in pushing developers into renovation in many cases, but it is a positive thing for our future world that we do not immediately look to start from scratch when there is a perfectly good structure in place that can be redeveloped and renovated in a clever way. There is not much urban space left, and architects can certainly help shape the future world where we maximise the use of all spaces open to us.
This can also be seen in how structures and designs should focus on delivering quality of finish rather than quantity. Too many times over the years have we seen the development of poor-quality housing to pay lip service to the fact that a certain quota of houses have been delivered to the public. Instead, the focus must shift towards architecture that is environmentally sustainable, functional, but delivers quality of purpose in an inclusive way to the people, the communities, and the art of the local area in which it is being built.