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Significant Growth in Holistic Accountability

I think we’ll see significant growth in the area of holistic accountability. Architects, builders, owners and product manufacturers are shifting their expectations around social responsibility.

Brands can expect more direct and specific questions on a holistic approach to their sustainability position. Owners and developers will expect architects to produce buildings that represent their brand and offer experiences that have tangible examples of wellness and sustainability.

Additional trends for 2018:

  • Many buildings are already gathering and reporting operational data —utility usage, energy efficiency, and GHG emissions. 2018 will begin to focus not just on the embodied energy of the build, but understanding the energy and carbon required to produce key building materials used in its construction.
  • Supply chain management, resource advocacy and social justice will start to roll into this holistic vantage point. These factors are increasingly well-understood by the building industry and have a direct impact on a company’s brand.
  • Owners and design teams will be increasingly aware of their ethical and strategic alignment with building products and manufacturers, knowing that their design and material selections have a direct effect on increasing renewable energy generation and lowering carbon emissions.

Brent Trenga, building technology director for Kingspan Insulated Panels North America

Increased Use of Steel as a Design Element

As a company that engineers and constructs buildings made of steel, we see more and more demand for this material not just as a supporting structure but also as an element of design.

We predict that one of the hottest trends in architecture in coming years will be a usage of steel that will combine the strength and safety with an urbanistic feel of North American cities. A great example is Woodwards Building in Vancouver, BC – a unique project that was heavily decorated with metal.

Alex Bar, operations and HR, Rosh Metal

Courtesy of Hubert Figuière

Standardisation of Building Product Data and Custom Technology Solutions

One trend we’ll see this year is the standardisation of building product data. As BIM becomes more commonplace, there is a need for data from building product manufacturers to be in a consumable form, but also a comparable one.

Standards groups in the US, Japan and across Europe are working to create product data templates, so designers and contractors can more easily get relevant data, as well as compare objects using the same criteria (e.g. material, electrical loads, illumination output, capacity, etc.).

We can also expect to see an increase in small custom-technology solutions to solve big problems. As a growing number of younger architects with more advanced computing skills gain influence in practice, they are more willing to customise their tools to solve problems the tools don’t directly address.

This may be through scripting within a tool like Python or Marionette in Vectorworks, or even writing new apps to deal with grabbing and translating the necessary data into their workflows. Such savvy designers are even developing a whole new class of specialisation for themselves, as well as building third-party consultancies to help others unable to customise their tools internally.

 Jeffrey W Ouellette, senior architect product specialist at Vectorworks

Greater Adoption of Architectural Technology

An inspiring studio space can lead to a more creative workplace and keeping up to date with the latest technological advances is helping us create a more dynamic working environment, which will continue to revolutionise the way we work.

BIM has, for a number of years, become invaluable within the built environment. There is a growing trend towards BIM being commonplace not only in the design process but also the construction process, where it can be used to offer developments in process, innovation – such as prefabrication – and how things are assembled on site. This helps to minimise waste and reduce programme implications, which are often a huge constraint for many contractors.

Architects are always competing for the upper hand when securing new work and utilising the latest technological advances in virtual reality helps us to do that. It is a great medium for us to explain a design before the physical form is built and helps the client to further engage with the design process.

The effective use of new software and apps to monitor workflow, assign tasks and report on progress during the design process not only helps us create a more effective workflow, but also a more effective workforce. Having access to the latest design information whilst out of the office is becoming invaluable. It results in a more informed workforce, which helps the effective and informed decision making that takes place in real time, so as not to delay the design process.

Aiden Bell, associate at CPMG Architects

More Textures and a Continuance of Open-Plan

2018 architecture trends will include technology, textures, tiles and open floor plans.

We can expect a great majority of kitchen remodels and home upgrades to include smart tech – ultimately the latest in home technology is incredibly integrated and will simplify users' daily lives while blending nicely into their home.

Texture continues to rise in 2018, especially contrasting or patterned textures used in both the interior and exterior. Bringing that into the space or home design can add the visual weight and balance you need.

You can definitely expect to see a continued upward trend in the use of larger format tiles for a pleasing aesthetic and lower maintenance requirement.

We're seeing that homeowners are continuing to love living in an open floor plan, specifically in areas like the kitchen and living room.

Open floor plans are designed to maximise space, making rooms multipurpose and promoting a certain lighter, bright flow to the home.

Kimberly Villa, designer, Kaminskiy Design and Remodeling

Further Growth in Modular Housing

Having spent more than two decades bringing innovative design to the UK housing market – including a first project using modular technology at Moho in Manchester in 2006 – we launched our House concept in 2016.

The product we created, a template of either a 2-storey, 1,000 sq ft, homes, or 3-storey, 1500 sq ft homes, was born out of years of R&D which saw us evolve a prototype for a modular, family town house that could be created to customer specifications in a factory environment. 

The concept has been very well received since that point; the first 43 Houses at New Islington in Manchester were sold out, completed and fully occupied within a year of launch; two further schemes are on site at Smith’s Dock in North Shields and Irwell Riverside in Manchester – comprising 24 and 72 town houses respectively – and we’ve partnered with architect George Clarke to evolve a sister product known as Fab House. Created in the same factory, it will offer buyers in the North East a 2-storey modular option. 

Modular’s always been an obvious draw for us, especially as it’s proven to work so well for us in urban environments. It amazes me how so many other sectors have embraced technology and created more sophisticated products; housing’s one of the last bastions and we want to drive the sector’s future by making development more innovative.

Jonathan Falkingham MBE, co-founder of Urban Splash

Courtesy of Urban Splash

Pop-Up Retail and the Extension of Residential Spaces

Pop-up retail space

Pop-up retail space is one of the newest trends on the horizon. Retail space that changes on a bi-weekly or monthly basis not only adds character to the building, but also connects the building to the broader community. It does this by supporting local artists or businesses and creating a sense of anticipation among passers-by.

Residential co-working spaces

With the average apartment often measuring less than 600 sq ft, people need a place to move around and work without having to leave home. By creating comfortable co-working spaces within buildings, we bring that popular model to residents’ front door. This adds convenience and value while providing social opportunities.

Lobbies and public spaces for residential projects

It’s a growing trend that allows the blending of architecture and design leading to lush, inviting common spaces that replicate the feel of a luxurious single-family home.

 David Kennedy, principal of the Chicago office of KTGY Architecture + Planning

Retail to See Harder Working Sites with a Neighbourhood Feel


All of our clients are asking their existing mixed-use sites to work harder to allow for future flexibility and improved viability. This is usually achieved through conversion of space and populating the airspace above existing developments.

Creating neighbourhoods

This looks at the ground floor space once the need for density has been established. Creating a neighbourhood and sense of place is key to activating the ground floor – more and more we are working on masterplans where the two ground floors and surrounding landscape are key to the success of the development.

Physical vs online retail

The convenience of online shopping has directly impacted on the high street and will continue to dominate. However, 2018 is already seeing a rise in ‘experience’ shopping as physical retail destinations are enticing the consumer to shop in a way that isn’t possible online.

Out-of-town retailing

There is also a positive impact on physical retail destinations as a result of online shopping thanks to ‘click and collect’. The biggest benefactor of this trend is out of town retailing. To the consumer, these parks feel much more convenient than town centres due to free parking and easy accessibility. We are working with many retailers to improve the atmosphere of these destinations to give shoppers the ultimate experience in 2018.

John Morgan, director at Leonard Design Architects

The Rise of Hemp as a Construction Material

I would like to imagine that the use of hemp will be a prominent construction material in the coming years.

Ideal for low-rise construction, more sustainable than steel or concrete with a carbon negative footprint, hempcrete, as it is known, has started gaining momentum again as a viable building tool.

With the great quantity of houses being built in the UK, more could be built with deep green materials, hemp being a highly sustainable resource.

I say ‘again’ as the use of hemp in construction is historically nothing new. Hemp structures can be found dating back to Roman times.

Closer to drywall than concrete, hemp is unsuitable for use as a foundation or structure. However, mixing hemp’s fibres with lime makes a light concrete that is highly insulating and resistant to changes in temperature.

A number of projects using hempcrete have recently popped up in places around the world including Israel, Nepal, Ukraine and the US. In the UK, eco-friendly architects HAB, who Kevin McCloud of Grand Designs fame is chairman of, built five homes with hempcrete last year alone.

However, while the use of hempcrete is growing, there still isn’t an international set of standards for building with it, or codes regulating how it should be used structurally.

It’s high time the industry caught up and this is something currently being addressed by ASTM International, the technical standards organisation.

Nicole Portieri, design director of the Commercial Architecture Department at Woods Hardwick