Inspired by Sphere, the new music and entertainment venue in Las Vegas, I’ve been doing a deep dive on the past, present and future of architecture over the past few weeks.
In part 1, we looked at the architectural revolution of the mid-20th century, which was a pivotal period in the history of architecture, with the emergence of modernism, minimalism and brutalism. Part 2 looked at the early 21st Century where sustainability became a core focus, along with the rise of postmodernism as an architectural style.
In this final part, we’re looking to the future and what we might expect to see in years to come, both in terms of how our cities are built and the names we can expect to see building them!
Last week I talked about smart buildings like Edge in Amsterdam, but in the future we can expect to see smart urban planning becoming instrumental in addressing the issues of urban sprawl and inefficient land use.
Urban sprawl is the expansion of cities into surrounding areas, which leads to increased commuting distances, traffic congestion, and environmental degradation. Smart urban planning could combat this by creating compact, well-defined city boundaries which would limit outward expansion. It’s an approach which encourages the development of existing urban areas, reducing the need for new land acquisition.
Efficient land use could be promoted by encouraging higher-density development, meaning designing buildings and infrastructure in a way that makes the most of limited urban real estate: compact, mixed-use development places residences, workplaces, and other amenities all close together. This would reduce the need for long commutes, meaning lower transportation-related emissions and less traffic congestion. Mixed-use development allows for a diversity of businesses and services in the same area, meaning people have access to jobs, retail, healthcare, and entertainment without having to travel a long way.
The Internet of Things
Expect to see digital infrastructure and high-speed internet access becoming the digital lifelines of smart cities, enabling efficient data communication, real-time services, and innovation.
The Internet of Things (IoT) is a network of connected devices and objects, and will undoubtedly play a crucial role in the operation of smart cities. These devices, ranging from sensors to everyday objects, are equipped with technology that allows them to collect and share data over the internet. In a smart city, IoT sensors are strategically placed throughout the urban landscape, continuously monitoring various aspects of city life.
The future is now
Mind you, several cities around the world have already made remarkable strides in that respect, with a focus on sustainability, digital connectivity, and efficient public services.
Often regarded as one of the smartest cities globally, Singapore has integrated tech to create a sustainable and efficient urban environment. The city-state uses a vast network of sensors to monitor everything from traffic and energy consumption to waste management.
Seoul in South Korea is renowned for its innovative use of technology to make life better for its residents. The city offers free Wi-Fi citywide and provides a range of digital services, including smart parking, digital healthcare, and smart governance.
Danish capital Copenhagen consistently ranks among the world’s smartest cities due to its emphasis on sustainability and quality of life. It’s well-known for its smart transportation systems, including extensive bike lanes and efficient public transit, and it aims to become carbon-neutral by 2025.
Amsterdam is a leader in smart city initiatives, with a focus on smart mobility and digital innovation. The city’s extensive bike network, smart parking systems, and electric public transportation have made it a model for urban mobility.
And of course I can’t leave out the US! Known for its technology hub, San Francisco has implemented numerous smart initiatives. The city’s projects include smart parking systems, free public Wi-Fi, and extensive digital services for residents. San Francisco’s efforts to improve public transportation and reduce its environmental footprint align with its reputation as a forward-thinking city.
These cities prioritise sustainability, digital connectivity, and data-driven decision-making to create more efficient, livable, and resilient urban environments, and as technology and innovation continue to advance, you can expect to see the list of the smartest cities in the world growing, with more cities adopting smart initiatives to meet the evolving needs of their populations.
Architects of the future
Of course, these smart cities are going to need buildings, so who might be the Frank Gehry or Le Corbusier of the future? Predicting which architects will be influential is a near impossible task, as there are so many variables to consider, however, several names are already gaining prominence and have the potential to continue shaping the architectural landscape of our cities.
Known for his innovative and sustainable designs, Danish architect Bjarke Ingels is likely to remain influential in the future. He gained international recognition for his distinctive approach to urban design and architecture and combines a commitment to environmental sustainability with striking aesthetics, pushing the boundaries of what is possible in modern architecture. His portfolio includes a diverse range of projects, from the innovative and energy-efficient 8 House in Copenhagen to the stunning, pyramid-shaped Via 57 West in New York City.
Jeanne Gang is a highly acclaimed American architect recognised for her innovative and environmentally conscious designs. She’s consistently pushed the boundaries of architectural practice and her work often revolves around the integration of architecture with nature, community, and sustainability. She is renowned for projects such as the Aqua Tower in Chicago, known for its undulating exterior, and the Nature Boardwalk at Lincoln Park Zoo, which seamlessly blends landscape and urban design, and her contributions to the field display a unique and forward-thinking approach to architecture, making her a leading figure in contemporary urban design and a strong advocate for building harmoniously with the natural world.
Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava is known for his distinctive and futuristic designs. His work is characterised by intricate, skeletal structures, and fluid, organic forms that challenge conventional notions of architectural aesthetics, and his innovative approach blends architecture, engineering, and art, with projects like the stunning City of Arts and Sciences in Valencia, Spain, and the iconic Turning Torso tower in Sweden, both showcasing his dedication to pushing the boundaries of design and structural engineering.
So there we have it – I hope you’ve enjoyed this short series on the evolution of architecture. It’s a topic that’s close to my heart and I continue to be inspired such amazing buildings. Till next time!