If you want to understand the interests, aspirations and behaviors of architects that are 45-and-under, just perusing Bjarke Ingels' Instagram is an interesting and highly educational exercise… don’t worry, we already did the job for you.
It’s easy to see some of the most common traits of a young, contemporary architect:
Many are active and into sports like running or hiking, they love to get around on their bike and they have a hobby they are passionate about (hey, not everything is about architecture). They use—and love—technology to the extent that it facilitates their lives and increases their performance at work. They love to travel, and when they do, the destination must have at least one architectural project that will serve as a reference in their work—not to mention as a super-likable Instagram post. But they aren’t just on the lookout for buildings; anything artistic or cultural that moves or inspires them can merit a space on their social media accounts. A graffitied wall may one day spark the next architectural masterpiece. The world (their world) is full of design objects and everyday things that can generate emotional links and provoke new ideas. And it doesn’t stop with inspiration; the design objects they cherish for getting work done also become staples of the content they share. Apple, Rotring, Lamy, Muji, Moleskine are some of the brands that they identify with.
When it comes to sharing their work, they are not only interested in the finished project, but also in the design and construction processes. Photos from site visits are a must since they generate intrigue and allow the public to get a sneak peek into the unfinished work. Once the professional photographer comes through, the architect’s followers already have a pretty good idea of the project, its materials and ambient qualities.
Young architects are also very aware that the work they do would not be possible without a tremendously talented team of other architects and non-architects alike. They’ve moved on from naming firms after themselves in a first name, last name fashion and now take on monikers or made-up groupings of letters that one might associate more with a rock band than an architect. In the case of our current subject, BIG as a name serves to suggest that Bjarke’s GROUP has a Captain (Bjarke himself), but there are many diverse and powerful additions to the group.
At the age of 42, Bjarke Ingels has become a reference to professionals who want international careers and who want to work for their own firms, while understanding our current role in the destruction of the earth and proposing ways to make it better. It’s a kind of consciousness that ties this generation and their projects inextricably to a global, sustainable mindset.
To save you some time doing exhaustive market analysis, we’ve rounded up three key behavioral aspects that will help you understand and reach young architects.
“What am I trying to accomplish here? What is the social impact of this project?”
Together with the importance given to teamwork, a fundamental part of these architects’ discourse is the environment. When they design they try to minimize the environmental impact of their projects and they are tuned into the carbon footprint of their projects and the production processes of the materials they will use.
The success of their career isn’t measured by the economic growth their office can achieve, but by the social impact generated by their projects. If, in the past, architects became respected and well-known by building architectural masterpieces, today architects are more interested in constructing social change through architecture.
“What type of material is this and how much is it going to cost?”
Many young offices begin with small-scale projects that allow them to be in charge of the construction phase. This allows them to precisely select materials and be involved in the project until the day the building is handed over to client. Nevertheless, it’s possible and probable that some young architects still don’t have enough experience or know-how when it comes to being aware of what kinds of materials are out there, available for them to use.
When they select materials, they are inspired by the projects they admired when they saw them published on ArchDaily. If they are lucky, within this same project publication they will be able to easily locate the technical information and application standards they are looking for, making the material selection process much more informed and adequate. Also, there is a strong preference for low-cost materials that can be easily and quickly installed without highly skilled labor that ultimately pushes up the cost of the project.
“What happens if I turn this product around and I install it the “wrong” way in order to achieve the look and feel desired in the project?”
Young architects will do everything to make their work stand out from the work of others. Innovation is a fundamental concept, but we’re not talking about innovation associated with costly technology. The innovation they are interested in is the kind that harnesses ingenuity and creativity and allows for a high-impact design at a low cost.
For these architects, innovation is not achieved using high-cost materials; it’s done by rethinking conventional or standard products. They strive to see beyond a material’s known potential, adjusting it and pushing its limits until they decide to use facade panels on the floor. To kindle this experimental and creative spirit, material providers can support the specification and selection process by providing as much information about their products as possible so that unconventional explorations do not negatively affect the budget of the project.
Technical specifiers will have to know, quite literally, every aspect of their products: they must know if it is possible to find the product in different formats or sizes that can offer greater versatility, and know what happens when products designed for interior spaces are placed on the exterior.