Since the end of the last millennium, slow but gradual changes in almost all fields of architecture are causing a major shift within the entire profession. These changes have been partly caused by the growing need for a more sustainable and environmental friendly architecture as well as by rapidly evolving new design and manufacturing techniques. Amid these changes there is also a search for new artistic expression leading to astonishing new forms.

There is a wide divergence in each of these fields and a broad scope of directions is being explored. In most cases however there is a focus on one or two aspects. To create a truly ‘Living Architecture’ that supports our natural, social and cultural life, a synthesis of many aspects has to be attained.

 

Ecological Building

The rapid depletion of natural resources and growing environmental pollution are a worldwide call for the development of truly sustainable concepts. This means fundamentally rethinking the use of building materials and energy-supply. New ways are being sought, ranging from the revival of natural building materials like adobe, straw bales and bamboo to high-tech solutions using solar energy and the Earth’s own warmth for transforming buildings into power plants.

 

Green Village, Ibuku, Denpasar, Bali 2012

Experiencing Nature

In the course of a growing environmental awareness many people are longing to reconnect with nature; to experience its beauty, regenerative and transformative power. This is reflected by a new sensitivity in relating buildings to their natural surroundings and in architectural forms that are created in dialogue with nature, expressing its principles of form and the unique character of place. 

 

Sohlbergplassen, Carl-Viggo Hølmebakk, Norway 2006

Digital Design and Fabrication

Whereas industrialisation led to a repetition of uniform elements, digital design and fabricating enable the production of unicasts and free forms no more expensive than serial produced elements. Here a wide range of technologies, ranging from laser cutters, CNC Routers, 3D Printers to robotics, is opening up astonishing new array of possibilities and forms.

 

ICD-ITKE Research Pavilion, Stuttgart, Germany 2012. Photo: ICD-ITKE

Offering Meaningful Experiences

During the Functionalist era, the main task of a building was seen in fulfilling its practical function. Meanwhile a new longing for architectural experiences has emerged that ranges from a new sensitivity for building materials and the expression of movement to the creation of radically different spatial atmospheres and the representation of identity.

 

Arnhem Central Station, UN-Studio, Netherlands 1996 - 2015

Creating Social Spaces

Modern society has led to a strong individualisation that erodes many traditional social settings. This in turn has given rise to a new desire for community building in private life and to the creation of new social spaces in the public realm that have led to a variety of new spatial and social structures.

 

Wild Reindeer Pavilion, Snøhetta, Hjerkinn, Dovrefjell National Park, Norway 2011

 

Cultural Content and Identity

In traditional architecture, building styles were often the expression of cultural content offering a strong sense of identity. Modern building techniques and globalisation have caused a loss of this cultural content. Against this background, attempts are made to create buildings that stimulate cultural life and express new cultural identity.

 

 

Artist impression Spire Edge, Ken Yeang, New Delhi, India 2008