This second year of the pandemic was a tremendous opportunity to continue reflecting and debating on the most pressing issues in architecture. Along these lines, we wanted our readers to actively join in, contributing their experiences and knowledge. Throughout the whole year, each month we invited you to share your comments and opinions about the most diverse issues - from the future of cities, automation in architecture and collective design, to green architecture, adaptive reuse, migration, equity and interior wellbeing.
After reading and compiling all the messages received, both from construction professionals, as well as students and those interested in architecture, it is time to present the main points of view. Thank you very much for your opinions!
Future of Cities: They have two courses: anthropocentric or ecocentric
The worry that concerns future cities and the estimated population growth in the next decades is no small matter, especially in terms of accessibility to housing, work and mobility. Not only will we be almost 10 billion people around the world by 2050, but a large part of them will live in cities - where the threats of new pandemics will always be present.
Green Infrastructure: Is there anything more natural than nature itself?
It would seem that the vast majority of contemporary marketing in sustainable architecture points to greenwashing. There is no longer a clear gap between what could or could not contribute to the creation of healthier environments. When we bring greenwashing into homes, which is what is most built on the planet, it becomes a worrying issue.
Interior Wellbeing: Do we need more psychology and detoxification?
Humanity spends more and more time indoors. In periods of mandatory confinement, like in the current Covid-19 pandemic, we realise how important these spaces really are for our wellbeing, and even for preventing illnesses. But really, what makes a space healthy? What are the factors that contribute to us living at a constant comfort level? How can technology and design contribute to this? What are the precedents we must follow?
What is a render? Is it just an image to win contests and clients? Or is it an effective tool for the development of a building? There is a great coincidence that we should not only think of rendering as a selling point but as a key element in project verification. This makes sense, given the extensive use of these types of tools in contemporary practice.
Collective Design: We must urgently establish common guidelines
We all know that architecture is a complex field that requires the support of many areas to make it possible. Although design is at the core of every project, without the technical specificity, many could not have been what we know today. What would Brasilia look like without the landscape designs of Roberto Burle Marx? Would OMA's Beijing CCTV Tower stand without ARUP's structural calculations? Would ELEMENTAL's housing projects be the same without the contribution of its future inhabitants?
Automation in Architecture: It is more time to develop creativity
Even though years ago the construction industry was one of the most backward in technological terms, today we can say that automation in architecture is definitely here to stay.
Economic crises, health emergencies and natural disasters followed by social conflicts, political disagreement and searches for new places to live have been the reasons, throughout history, for the displacement of hundreds of thousands of people. The result: change. Change in residence, habitat and culture. These large demographic flows have allowed urban populations to grow at historic rates. However, we find that cities, great consumers of energy and producers of emissions, have another peculiarity: 3 out of 5 run a high risk of suffering a natural disaster (a situation that worsens each day due to the climate emergency). At the same time, the current pandemic and the use of technology seem to further accentuate the trends of an imminent migration to the suburbs in search of more private and natural spaces for our lives. How are architects, urban planners and planners preparing for this?
History has shown us many construction techniques and uses of local materials that have managed to be sustainable over time. The efficient use of resources that don't need to be transformed by large industrial processing stages and eliminate the need for long transfers. In some cases, at the end of their useful life, they can even be returned to their environment like with adobe and wood. In other cases, even those recovered could be considered as waste and recyclable waste generated on-site. Without a doubt, current technology and knowledge can help improve them so that they are applicable on a larger scale in big cities. Is it possible to develop projects with low impact on the environment and adapt them to the dense urban context? Is this the future path of building materials?
During the month of September 2021, the 4th edition of the Chicago Architecture Biennial took place under the title Available City - and it was a perfect occasion to open the debate on the role of architecture in urban equity. Can architecture favour equity in cities? Does it have limits to do so? From a critical perspective, we discuss the matter through an initial question for our readers: How equitable is architecture?
Adaptability: Form follows all functions
Due to the necessity, different types of buildings have changed their use. Churches that are now libraries, abandoned warehouses that are now cultural centres - and while much has been written on the subject, from N. John Habraken's Open Building concept in the 70's to the contemporary From Mixed-Use to Diff-Use by Adamo Faiden, we have an interesting global debate around adaptability in housing today more than ever. Is it necessary to have so many square metres dedicated to offices when during the pandemic, we realised that many jobs can be done remotely?
This article is part of the ArchDaily Topic of the Month: Year in Review. Every month we explore topics in more depth through articles, interviews, news and buildings. Learn more about our topics. And as always, we at ArchDaily value the contributions of our readers. If you want to submit an article or a piece of work, contact us.