Emerging Concepts in Modern Architecture

Modern house interior

Emerging Concepts in Modern Architecture

The worldwide construction industry’s growth rate is predicted to grow by 85% and surpass global GDP growth by 2030. 

With this knowledge, new trends are emerging to lower costs, combat the impact of this construction on the environment, and cater to a new generation with changing needs. 

VR Architecture

As more and more people engage in virtual reality from the comfort of their homes, the prices surrounding this technology continues to drop. In turn, architects are starting to incorporate this phenomenon into their design process.  

VR allows designers to build high-quality models that are manipulatable at a much smaller and cheaper scale. VR is lowering design and repair costs as architects are now able to simulate potential environmental hazards that might affect the structure. The new technology allows architects to find solutions before construction even begins. 

VR is also changing the way architects communicate with their clients. Architects no longer need to rely on blueprints to convey their vision but can walk a client through a virtual representation of what the finished product will be. Companies like IrisVR are helping firms turn their existing 3D models into VR. These companies are helping architecture firms use and navigate this emerging technology so they can be competitive in the 21st century.  

Lastly, VR is helping to train the next generation of architects and will significantly shorten the learning curve. Students will be able to see designs working in real-time and will help teachers convey concepts in a much more visual way. 

Small Space Living

Tiny houses, micro-apartment living, everywhere you turn, people fit themselves and their entire lives into smaller and smaller spaces. 

In the past, people subscribed to the “bigger is better” way of thinking, and as incomes rose, so did the size of their living space. As the costs of living skyrocket in urban spaces and wages stagnate while the student loan debt steadily rises, more and more people are turning to the low-cost option of “tiny living.” 

As the birth rate drops to its lowest number in recent history, people need less space. Choosing to rent or own a tiny living space frees up disposable income, often provides an individual with better access to infrastructures such as public transportation, high paying employment, and better entertainment options. 

As more and more young people move into these small spaces, design techniques are emerging to make the spaces look bigger such as utilizing an open floor plan, large windows, high ceilings, etc. 

As more people become environmentally conscious, individuals and families will gravitate not only towards small living areas but also toward spaces that incorporate energy-saving methods into their design, such as homes with low flush toilets that save water and high ceilings that save on cooling costs. Therefore, architects and builders that make energy conservation a cornerstone of their design elements will have a better chance of being competitive in the industry.  

Accessibility/Universal Design 

Being more accessible in architecture involves designing structures with the needs of the disabled in mind rather than subscribing to the “one size fits all” way of thinking. 

The idea of accessibility in architecture is to create spaces that everyone can enjoy, both the non-disabled and the disabled, without stigmatizing or segregating users. 

 Seven principles that guide the Universal Design Concept:

#1 Equitable Use 

Anyone and everyone can use the space regardless of their ability level.

#2 Flexibility in Use 

People with a wide range of preferences can enjoy the functionality of the space. 

#3 Simple and Intuitive Use 

Utilizing the space does not require advanced knowledge, and avoiding unnecessary complexities helps cost and functionality.

#4 Perceptible Information 

The design can communicate its purpose and function to the user without relying on the users’ sensory abilities.

#5 Tolerance for Error 

The consequences of misuse are minimal. Fail-safe features provide an extra level of safety for the user. 

#6 Low Physical Effort 

The design requires the least amount of physical energy possible for a user. 

#7 Size and Space for Approach and Use 

Adequate size and space are provided for everyone regardless of their size or mobility.

Examples of “Universal Design” include:

  • Grab bars beside toilets and showers to ensure the disabled and elderly can easily use it.
  • Wheelchair accessible kitchens, with low countertops and shelves that are mobile, so the user can bring supplies down to their level. 
  • Sliding doors in public spaces rather than hinge doors to make the space more wheelchair accessible. 

The industry is changing, and architects and designers will have to adapt to keep up. Firms will need to incorporate VR technology into their design process, specializing in tiny living designs and make sure their designs are accessible if they want to be competitive in this industry moving forward. 

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