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What is the Future of Architectural Design? 

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Buildings and other construction projects have received tremendous updates in terms of design over the last two decades, thanks to the ever-increasing pace of technology. Architectural Design needs to meet the demands of increasing globalization and cope up with the fast-evolving information technology.

With architects and designers working hand in hand, implementing new innovative ideas in their projects to cope up with the rapidly evolving world, there are plenty of reasons to get excited about the future of architectural design.

VR and AR

Cutting-edge technologies like VR and AR have changed the design process in architecture dramatically. Architects can now experience their designs before beginning the actual construction of the building. Achieving such a feat has never been possible before. VR has already infiltrated architectural design and has transformed the industry for the better.

Augmented Reality or AR is showing even promising results in architectural design than VR, thanks to the easy accessibility. Anyone with a smartphone and an internet connection can see AR in action. It comes in handy for architects as they can see how their designs will blend with the environment of the real construction site.

3D Printing

3D printing, although quite inaccessible to the majority as of now, has enabled architects and clients to visualize the design process much more effectively. 3D printing has made the transition from blueprints to a physical model easier than ever. It has replaced conventional designing methods like clay models with an innovative and automated approach.

It is also beneficial for clients to better understand the model and quickly point out any errors in the model, increasing the chances of approval. Meanwhile, architects can utilize 3D printed models to attract clients and showcase their skills and expertise in the industry. 3D printing can become widely accessible in the future for the exponential technological advancement is no joke.

Big Data in Architecture

Besides architecture, the role of big data in shaping the world’s economy is enormously huge. Big data has changed the way things work forever and for the better. From swiping credit cards in supermarkets to liking posts on social media, data mining is real and its impact on the global economy is enormous.


How Big Data is Taking Architecture to the Next Level? 

To put big data in perspective, data experts say that almost 90% of the data in the world today has been created in the last two years alone, with 2.5 quintillion bytes of data being produced each day as of now. Governments and some of the largest business tycoons are always ready to pay billions of dollars for this data. In architecture, more specifically, city governments all across the globe are utilizing this data to manage their cities and transform them into smart cities. Here’s how the influence of big, data is affecting the architecture industry:

  • Speeding up the Construction Process 

Governments provide crucial data for architects and designers to better understand the construction site. Such information can be critical for a flawless construction. Moreover, this sharing and analysis of data can reduce search time and processing time to dramatic measures. The impact of such data on architectural design will be huge and it has the potential to induce extreme efficiency in the whole architectural design industry.

  • Implementing Enhanced Maintenance Systems in Buildings

Maintaining a building becomes a piece of cake when you have the proper data regarding the same. Having data about the usage of a type of building can help designers implement features to reduce maintenance costs in the future. Moreover, the implementation of enhanced maintenance systems based on past data directly affects the efficiency of a building.

  • Improving Services

Public data about how the citizens of a city, spend money can be quite useful to the government. That includes data about where they shop, what they purchase, how often they purchase, etc. This sort of data can be collected and analyzed to improve the design of commercial structures to improve such services. Overall, big data can be utilized to better match user needs.

  • Enhanced Design Modifications

Collecting and analyzing enormous amounts of data can be quite useful in predicting the interests of citizens. This crowdsourcing can be done best via social media websites such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Gathering intellect about clients and citizens can provide a clear understanding to the architects and designers about what they need to change and modify in their designs.

Using New Building Materials

New Building Materials
Utilization of materials for construction structures.

Concrete has undoubtedly been the most-used building material for centuries and there are plenty of reasons to justify this fact. However, just using concrete as a building material may become obsolete in the future. Issues such as global warming and the increasing awareness towards nature, have forced architects to consider multiple factors before deciding their building materials. Architects now have to consider factors such as carbon footprint, sustainability, price, etc., to plan their building materials carefully. With that said, let’s look at some building materials that have the potential to change the face of architectural design:


  • Timber

Wood has been around in architecture for almost 10,000 years. Some buildings are even dated back to 6,000 B.C. However, thanks to technology, wood is back as a promising building material in the form of timber. After multiple building constructions using timber, the remarkable results showcase the full potential of timber as a building material. Unlike concrete, timber is lightweight, inexpensive, and easy to work with, making it ideal for constructing huge structures. Also, constructing timber buildings is way easier and takes up a lot less time compared to concrete or other building materials. Moreover, if timber is to be widely used as a building material, huge amounts of trees will have to be grown which will result in reducing the amounts of carbon in the world.

That carbon is trapped forever in timber, forming a closed cycle. Another significant advantage of using timber as a building material is that the production chain itself produces very limited carbon dioxide emissions, thereby reducing the carbon footprint drastic measures.

  • Plastic

Plastic may face the highest criticism of all materials due to its non-biodegradable nature, but one cannot deny its efficacy as a building material. With that said, architects are going beyond the conventional uses of plastic and re-envisioning it as a tool to make buildings and structures lighter, less dense, and cheaper. Currently, plastic is being used as a design element or as a cheap replacement material like wood, vinyl, or tile. Also, one of the most innovative and widespread uses of plastic in architecture is facade panels. A prime example of such usage of plastic is Bandung, Indonesia. The ice cream buckets used for the facade of the Micro library protect the library from rain, easily allow natural light, and are very cost-efficient.

Moreover, you can rely on technological advancement to utilize recycled plastic as a building material. After all, the strength of recycled plastic is undeniable as multiple countries utilize it to produce railway sleepers. Such utilization of plastic can get rid of the problem the world is currently facing with plastic. Considering the fact that more than an estimated 10 million tons of plastic end up in our oceans each year, using plastic as a building material will surely help to lower this number by huge margins.

  • Glass

Glass may not have the best strength and economic benefits that are essential if used in buildings, but it does have an aesthetic appeal that any other material can hardly match. Glass has been used in buildings for centuries, but newer architects are moving beyond conventional uses of glass in buildings. Moreover, advanced technologies have transformed glass into something else. For an instance, you can now adjust the amount of natural light that comes in.

This technology isn’t completely new either and has been around for quite a while. This liquid crystal window technology allows the glass to suddenly gets tinted when it reacts to the sunlight. Thanks to the tiny crystals embedded in the glass, the glass can also harness heat from the sun and add to the insulation of the building. This is particularly helpful in reducing energy consumption, considering the increasing population and increased carbon emissions to cope up with the increased demand for energy. Moreover, glass also possesses multiple health benefits such as fighting anxiety, stress, depression, and increasing productivity. Glass is being used in many innovative ways in architecture and it’s only going to grow in the future.

Parametric Architecture 

The introduction of parametric design in architecture has changed one’s thinking and approach towards a structure or a building. Making the traditional architectural designs look childish, parametric designs blend complexity and variety perfectly.

Parametric design is achieved, as the name suggests, by manipulating parameters in an architectural rendering software like Rhino and Fusion 360. This approach of creating a design produces outputs that would not have otherwise been possible. Parametric design has made architecture and coding closer than ever before. After all, there is a modifiable code behind a parametric design, allowing you to create impossible structures in your 3D rendering software.

However, whether parametric architecture can be used on a large scale in the near future is indeed a rather controversial topic due to its undeniable limitations. One of the main limitations of parametric design is that physics in the real world works differently than in your imagination. You may put your soul into creating a design using a parametric approach only to later find out that your 3D model cannot be transformed into reality. Meanwhile, some experts even suggest that parametric architecture may invite unskilled and inexperienced architects in the industry, making the architectural design process “soulless”. One thing’s for sure about parametric design in architecture, it challenges the way we think of architecture as of now.

Going Vertical

The Population explosion is real, no doubt about it. It’s estimated that the global population increased from 2.1 billion in 1959 to a whopping 6.1 billion in the year 2000. Such a tremendous increase in population is forcing people to utilize their space more efficiently in order to negate the effect of increasing scarcity of land. Constructing vertical cities is one great way to cope up with the ever-increasing population and it can better accommodate the next generation. It is safe to say that architects must become more space-savvy to better utilize that little amount of land we have left. However, this going-vertical trend in architecture will not be limited to residential and commercial buildings.

Vertical farming and vertical cities are concrete solutions to all our geographical problems, considering the negative effects that traditional agriculture has on the environment. After all, almost 12-15% of the global land area is used for cultivation and other agricultural activities. In fact, thanks to the powerful technologies in hand, vertical farming isn’t science fiction anymore. It’s a step closer to our high-rise urban dwellings, allowing entire communities to work in a multi-tier building. Vertical cities do have the potential to change the face of modern architecture forever.

Sustainable Architecture 

Negative impacts on the environment such as global warming are real and worth concerning. Only sustainable architecture can prove to be beneficial for an environmentally positive future. Utilizing resources efficiently and economically is the key to living in harmony with the environment and climate. With that said, attaining sustainability in architecture mostly involves reducing waste to a higher degree. Reducing waste also concerns itself with minimizing energy loss and is not limited to reducing physical waste only.

Concerns about negative environmental impacts are rising day by day, thanks to social media and some popular environmental activists. Future architectural designs will take the game of sustainability even further. You may even notice some energy-efficient buildings emerging each day. However, such buildings are rare as of now and we’re very far from attaining significant sustainability in architecture with the current technologies in hand.

Modular Architecture 

Modular Architecture has been a buzzworthy trend in architectural design for quite some time now. This technique allows architects to construct large structures quickly and at relatively low costs. This technique involves the construction of a structure using pre-built and assembled components. It’s a very cost-effective and highly efficient approach towards the construction of a building, both of these qualities are essential in future architectural designs.

Moreover, the tremendously increased population requires affordable housing solutions, and fortunately, modular architecture helps a lot in that part. Such affordability and sustainability in modular architecture have made it pave its way towards being one of the most crucial construction techniques. It is even possible that modular architecture might completely eradicate conventional architectural practices. Here are 4 significant advantages of modular architecture to justify this statement:

  • Faster Construction 

In modular architecture, since the manufacturing of components is done in a factory with extremely efficient machinery and a highly capable workforce, the process is relatively faster than the conventional construction techniques. Also, factors that may lead to a halt such as unfavorable weather conditions become irrelevant in modular architecture as it’s only the assembly that is done outdoors. The same is not possible with conventional construction techniques.

  • Reduced Wastage 

Keeping wastage to the bare minimum levels is essential to attain sustainability in architecture. Unfortunately, most conventional construction techniques fail relentlessly on that part. On-site construction requires the raw materials to be delivered to the project site in approximate quantity. This results in a huge wastage of material. Also, these raw materials don’t undergo strict testing and inspection, resulting in more waste due to damaged materials and incorrect use. Meanwhile, the direct and constant exposure to the weather can also damage the raw materials, turning on-site construction into an even wasteful process. Modular architecture, on the other hand, encounters no such issues which make it a highly sustainable, energy-efficient, and environment-friendly construction practice.

  • Cost-efficient 

Considering the exploding population, the demand for affordable housing is going to increase even further in the future. Fortunately, modular architecture can have a significant role in meeting these demands in the future. It’s the most significant benefit of modular architecture and the main reason for all the recently-induced excitement around it.

  • Future-ready

Unlike conventional construction practices, modular architecture has a remarkably low carbon footprint. It has a significant role in keeping down the carbon emissions from architectural practices. Modular architectural designs are the most futuristic approach towards the construction of a building. Experts predict a tremendous increase in modular construction market size- from $82.3 billion in 2020 to $108.8 billion in 2025. Along with supporting government initiatives and increasing awareness towards environmental impact, affordability and rapid urbanization are going to be primarily responsible for this increment.


No one knows what the future has in store for architectural design, it is certain though that it will undergo tremendous changes. Collaborative design, crowdfunding design, using compost building materials is some of the increasingly popular trends these days that were unheard of two decades back. These, along with multiple other trends are a concrete display of where we’re heading in architectural design.

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