Construction and Design Trends of 2021: The Recurring, The Popular, The Relevant and The Substantial
As we look back at the architecture projects we have published in 2020, as part of our yearly review, we were able to distinguish many recurring elements and solutions in terms of materials, programs, and functions.
Since the architecture industry moves slightly slower than others, we found that many things in the construction and design that have been building up these past years have come out making strong statements this 2020. We believe, therefore, that trends in the architecture world could be defined not only by what has been recurrent and popular but also, what has proven to be relevant and substantial.
Diversifying the materials of an interior space can greatly improve its depth and visual interest. At the same time, adding partitions or other delineations of internal space can help organize flow, circulation, and visibility. Polycarbonate, a type of lightweight, durable thermoplastic, is an excellent medium for both functions.
In its raw form, polycarbonate is completely transparent, transmitting light with nearly the same efficacy as glass. However, it is also lighter and stronger than glass and tougher than other similar plastics such as acrylic, polystyrene, ABS, or nylon, making it a good choice for designers seeking durable, impact and fire resistant materials that still transmit light. Like glass, it is a natural UV filter and can be colored or tinted for translucency, yet it is also prized for its flexibility, allowing it to be shaped into any size or shape. Finally, it is easily recyclable because it liquefies rather than burning, making it at least more environmentally friendly than other thermoset plastics. For example, recycled polycarbonate can be chemically reacted with phenol in a recycling plant to produce monomers that can be turned back into plastic.
One of the most important design considerations that residential architects have the responsibility to address is accessibility, ensuring that people with disabilities can comfortably live at home without impediments blocking basic home functionality. Accessibility for wheelchair users is a particularly important architectural concern due to unalterable spatial, material, and other requirements necessitated by wheelchair design and use. Because guaranteeing the comfort of all users, including disabled users, is one of the most essential obligations of all architects, designing for wheelchair users must be done with utmost the attention and care, especially in residential environments. Below, we delineate several strategies for designing floors for wheelchair circulation, helping architects achieve this goal of maximum comfort and accessibility.
A monochrome environment is a space in which most architectural elements are of a single color. Although it is common for architects to design black or white monochromatic spaces due to its neutrality, it is possible to use almost any color to design a space, taking advantage of their infinite tones, undertones, and shades.
In 2018, the UN released an article stating that 55% of the world’s population already lived in urban areas, predicting that by 2050 this percentage would reach 68%. This trend toward greater urbanization carries with it several implications regarding environmental degradation and social inequality. According to National Geographic, urban growth increases air pollution, endangers animal populations, promotes the loss of urban tree cover, and heightens the likelihood of environmental catastrophes such as flash flooding. These health hazards and catastrophic phenomena may be more likely to impact poorer populations, as larger cities tend to demonstrate higher rates of economic inequality and uncontrolled growth tends to produce unequal distributions of space, services, and opportunities.
To mitigate these negative effects of urbanization, designers are increasingly prioritizing sustainability and the maximization of available space – allowing more people to occupy less space with a smaller footprint.
Dense cities mean small homes. With more and more frequency we are forced to adapt to spaces within which some elements simply do not fit. As architects, these restrictions actually provide us with opportunities and remind us that our goal is to give precise solutions to specific problems. Designing with infinite number square meters and/or an unlimited budget is practically unheard of.
What's the key to accommodating everything? Let's review some effective storage solutions for minimum, tight spaces.