Technology will have subtle influence

We believe that the way technology will influence the future of architecture is very subtle, as technology now is slowly blending into the built environment. Using the data that the ‘smart city’, home or office sensors will provide us with a very valuable feedback loop that we can use in order to adapt our designs to the very fast changing society we now live in.

Chybik + Kristof Architects and Urban Designers

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Architects to help drive a sea-change in sustainable building

Architects are going to have a stronger place in the design of the future. They will be key to the sea-change in attitudes on planning where at present it is a negative process: ‘how developers or owners are reigned in on proposals’.

In the future planning will become an encouraging and positive process as to how a property or land is best made use of. Owners will be encouraged to think holistically rather than ‘what can I get’ under the planning rules.

Roof gardens with all their sustainable credentials will become encouraged, extra floors and full-width extension will become policy.

Brown field site owners will be encouraged to think big. Like the Victorians, the country will prioritise good value and a longer term perspective on what is built.

This sea-change will be spearheaded by architects becoming developers and builders in their own right. They want to show how it can be done well but with less greed.

The long held belief that architects are ‘professionals’ and therefore don’t get their hands dirtied by the realities of speculation and risk will change.

Architects will return to the forefront of the construction team, but not in the same way that they used to be in the post-war years; more as leaders of a sustainable build revolution.

Developers, housebuilders and planning need architects at the highest level to see the way ahead in the future of construction.

Robert Adams, founder, Adams+Collingwood

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Great modularisation, automation and sustainability legislation

Housebuilding needs to change massively and become modular. The problem is that housebuilders are resistant and want to carry on as before: building phase 1, stimulating demand and then building phase 2 with increased sales prices. Modularisation across construction generally needs to broaden and become more competitive. Only a handful of companies do it all right now and there’s always a concern about supply.

Increased automation of in-house systems will affect us more and more, both at home and certainly in hospitality, where staff will become seemingly invisible and spaces will operate autonomously, with guests in control of pre-loaded iPads for all needs.

When it comes to sustainability, tough legislation is driving change in the car industry, with Porsche launching the all-electric Taycan sports car, for example – both super-eco and super-desirable. Tougher legislation and sanctions still need to force more change in construction methods, materials and energy use.

Finally, health and wellbeing concerns for users as well as the environment will continue to dominate, as the best clients and operators focus increasingly on strategies for attracting and retaining staff, residents and consumers.

David Holt, founder, 74

Virtual reality is architecture’s next big thing

Virtual reality (VR) is the next big thing in architecture for sure. In the next 10 years, offering VR as part of the design process will be standard practice throughout the industry, even for smaller firms.

We have already been using VR for some time and our clients have been blown away by it. Instead of trying to figure out complex architectural drawings, they can simply pop on a headset and walk around inside the designed space.

The virtual environment makes it easy to specify different materials to see exactly how a certain design choice will change the look and feel of a room, as well as simulating the effects of different lighting and weather conditions.

The VR approach to the design process places emphasis on the enjoyment and practicality of a space, rather than a purely aesthetic approach. It also allows clients to feel more involved and gives them something visual to get excited about before construction has begun.

In the coming years, more and more architectural practices will realise the benefits that VR has to offer, and by the end of the 2020s, 2D design concepts should be obsolete.

 James Brindley, director, DesignHaus Architecture

Technology to be merged with creativity

When looking at how architecture is set to transform over the next decade, we can’t rest on our laurels when it comes to the increasing role technology has to play. Technology has already become a necessity to the application of knowledge across all industries, and architecture is no exception.

Over the next decade, architects will have to master data and learn to utilise the newest innovations to streamline the design and construction process and make it integral to their client offering.

But this technological advancement mustn’t be at the expense of creative design. As BIM develops, creativity will need to be merged with finely-tuned technological systems to rethink the way in which we develop, apply and operate our designs. And as computerised and robotic systems make headway, increased automation of repetitive tasks will offer new time and opportunities for collaboration and interaction within the profession.

In many ways, a greater adoption of automation could revive creativity in architecture, generating a platform for the development of new skills within the industry.

The next decade is going to see a wealth of opportunity to modernise our cities and industry. This modernisation must be sustainable and innovative, rising to the challenges posed by climate change and the integration of technology to create something fitting of the 2020s - whatever they may bring.

Pete Ladhams, managing director of Assael Architecture

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Fewer architects, more in-house roles

Architects are not going to be around in such numbers in the future, and they won’t be solely employed by large architectural firms.

Modern methods of construction (MMC) are creating a 'plug-and-play' element to design which has the potential to turn all of us into architects. This is already happening, with many modular specialists able to adapt their build systems to a variety of scales and designs.

Over time you are going to see more and more software solutions make the design process even easier and more accessible, bringing the end customer ever closer to the role of architect.

As a result, the architectural industry is one of those facing huge upheaval from MMC’s design disruptors and they will come under increasing pressure to adapt to the new normal offered by offsite construction, with all its cost and sustainability benefits, or increasingly risk becoming irrelevant.

We see a future where architects are employed in-house at offsite development companies like ours, and work alongside engineers as part of large multi-disciplinary teams to improve the aesthetics of buildings constructed using modular principles.

Steve Wilkie, director of Built & Spaces

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Digitisation to bring further transformation

Digitisation is transforming the building services industry and while it is taking time to be adopted, the future has significant opportunity not yet explored. The creation of off-site precision engineered systems fitted with multiple sensors to monitor and adapt operation with real time response will improve the quality of buildings and ultimately the lives of those who use them.

Sensors installed into existing stock as well as new build will have a much greater role as big data is analysed and used to better control systems and inform people. Individual installations such as lighting, BMS, fire alarms and security will be controlled together working seamlessly and be more useful to operators.

Industrial 3D printing will have a role to play with designs being developed in BIM and converted directly into live operating systems, improving quality, reducing waste and saving time. Standardisation will allow systems to be tried and tested and improved.

Climate change is also a constant battle but new technologies such as improved battery storage, hydrogen and even nano-generation have plenty to offer. Improvement to infrastructure allowing the sharing of resources to match demand and buildings that are specifically designed to generate their own energy rather than having bolt-on widgets will be commonplace.

Steve Hunt, founder and managing director of mechanical and electrical engineering consultancy Steven A Hunt & Associates

Zero-carbon, the transformation of town centres and a reduction in medium size practices

Architects have driven the green agenda for years, and I believe this will continue to become more dominant with zero-carbon buildings becoming the norm. Overall, this will be housing-led with commercial buildings behind the curve on this trend.

Alongside this the repositioning and regeneration of the high street will provide many opportunities. Leisure and experience will continue to underpin retail with greater relevance in the reinvention process and over time sports and activity will take on more emphasis in an emerging mix of new uses in town centres. Similarly, sport and leisure will become more important as measures to tackle poor health and inactivity become ever more culturally significant in tandem with mental health and wellbeing.

I believe architectural practices will either become large or small businesses. Medium size practices will reduce in number and will only be sustainable through a key specialism. A major threat facing our industry will be the continued trend of architects concentrating on concept design. In technology, the industry will continue to move towards Revit as a standard format for consultants and contractor teams; with improvements and development of technology and software and real time visualisation becoming the norm.

Paul Starbuck director at retail, sport and leisure specialists LK2

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