Cities we live in today have been built on principles designed decades ago, with prospects of ensuring that they are habitable by everyone. Throughout history, cities have been catalysts of economic growth, serving as focal points for businesses and migration. However, in the last decade, particularly during the last couple of years, the world has witnessed drastic reconfigurations in the way societies work, live, and commute.
Today’s urban fabric highlights two demographic patterns: rapid urbanization and large youth populations. Cities, although growing in scale, have in fact become younger, with nearly four billion of the world’s population under the age of 30 living in urban areas, and by 2030, UN-Habitat expects 60% of urban populations to be under the age of 18. So when it comes to urban planning and the future of cities, it is evident that the youth should be part of the conversation.
The Royal Institute of British Architects has announced the 54 winners of the 2021 RIBA National Awards, highlighting the UK's best new architecture. Ranging from single homes and housing schemes to educational facilities, cultural buildings, sports venues and medical centres, this year's projects illustrate a growing preoccupation with restoration and adaptive reuse, as well as a significant investment in education and culture. Inaugurated in 1966, the awards provide insight into UK's architectural environment and the economic trends shaping the AEC industry.
As architecture has evolved to include advanced building envelopes, innovative structural systems, and hybrid programs, new boundaries have been drawn. Sustainable practices and passive strategies have led architects to re-imagine building skins and the relationship between interior and exterior. While different typologies are designed with varied levels of permeability, libraries demand rigorous attention to performative facades and protected programs. This holds especially true when libraries are placed within radically changing landscapes.