The Future for Architecture

What is the future of architecture? Is it the kind of images you get if you type ‘future architecture’ into google? You know, those crappy renders of impossibly twisted forms that are sickeningly too organic, supposedly reflecting progression in the built environment. Most of them look like Zaha Hadid has drawn them up high on sniffing vine sap and dandelions. Join me, let us pray this never happens…

Future Architecture now could be seen as the megatall, the monolithic. Big not beautiful, impressive, rarely elegant. There seems the be a current race to see who can build the biggest phallus in their skyline, presumably those with the most to compensate for are the ones gunning the hardest. Oh lord, oh lord deliver us(them) from our(their) vanity…


Current proposal for worlds tallest building (to be built in China), pasted into the Chicago skyline for a sense of scale. Confrontational.

So what are futurists saying?

As ever the technologies of the world are progressing at a dizzying speed. Right now we have a roaming science laboratory on mars, sampling the surface and transmitting information from millions of miles away. 4G has been unrolled across the developed world, and with it broadband-like connectivity wherever we are, so long as you’re on the right pay plan. The role of social media has exemplified its power, especially when considering the Arab Spring and the unprecedented togetherness its creates that ultimately contributed to toppling regimes. Paper is being transferred to digital information, the likes of Kindle, Apple and other tablets are cashing in, and they keep getting smaller and smaller, more convenient and more convenient=er. We are increasingly heading towards a time where technologies are becoming more ambient and more and more unnoticeable, responsive environments provide opportunities in the physical realm that were never obtainable before.

According to Ray Kurzweil, a futurist, the Law of Accelerating Returns will usher in an exponentially greater amount of computing power than every before, but also that the technologies we use become more part of us and our environment. (see below diagram) :O

the web within us

The next 10 years will be an era of unprecedented connectivity; this much we know. It will build upon the social networks, both real and virtual already in place, the culmination could be a world than we occupy digitally, more Matrix than World of Warcraft. Until we are plugged in how ever we must, as physical beings, occupy a physical world and therefore we must design spaces that face the challenges of space and technology integration we face today.


J.H. Mayer Architects – Audi Urban Future Award, Venice Biennale 2010

Anyway here follows a tongue-in-cheek video of exploring the ideas of ambient architecture done by a group of students from Newcastle University. The project explores what the possibilities of an ambient and responsive architecture may be. A brave new world here we come.


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