Architecture is meant to fulfill both practical and expressive requirements, and thus it serves both utilitarian and aesthetic purposes. When you look at a structure, you can distinguish these two ends but they cannot be separated, and the relative weight each of them carry can vary widely. Plus, every society has its own, unique relationship to the natural world and its architecture usually reflects that as well, allowing people from other places to learn about their environment, as well as history, ceremonies, artistic sensibility, and many aspects of daily life.
However, architecture is better seen, not described. So, let me introduce you to "the beautiful impossibilities that we want to live in", a subreddit dedicated to high-quality images of some of the most impressive (concept) buildings out there. This online community already has over 617K members, and the pictures they share are absolutely gorgeous. Continue scrolling and take a look!
Semi-Destroyed In 1979 By The Earthquake In Albania. Rebuilt Two Years Ago
The Art Nouveau ‘Gran Hotel Ciudad De México’, 1899, By French Architect, Jacques Grüber
Urbany also pointed out the importance of smart home technology. "Anyone with a smartphone or voice-activated speakers, like Amazon Echo or Google Home, knows the convenience of home features that can be controlled via a simple swipe, utterance, or in-home video panel," the architect said.
"Not only are these features convenient, but many — including lighting and heating/cooling control — can reap real rewards on monthly utility bills. For architects, the challenge becomes creating spaces to house any mechanicals and the necessary wiring that goes along with them."
This Spiral Staircase Carved From A Single Tree In 1851 - Located In Lednice Castle, Czech Republic
Wisteria Blossoms Surrounding The Entrance Of A Victorian Townhouse In San Francisco
Another important aspect of contemporary architecture is sustainability. After all, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), buildings generate nearly 40% of annual global GHG emissions.
"It's no surprise the trend is towards creating more energy-efficient buildings, but also to develop homes that use, and leak less energy," Urbany explained.
"The pinnacle of this type of design is a net-zero home that literally has no net energy consumption. This is achieved by not only reducing energy consumption but by adding energy creation on the site, typically in the form of solar panels."
A Spiral Staircase Designed By Leonardo Da Vinci In The Year 1516
The Kansas City Public Library
Even if net-zero is too lofty a goal, architects are urged to implement as many sustainable features as possible. These include well-sealed building envelopes, efficient insulation, multi-panel windows, and energy-efficient appliances and systems.
TMD STUDIO, a London-and-Prague-based group of young professionals operating within the fields of architecture, visualizations, interior design, and research, agrees that sustainable architecture holds the key to an environmentally positive future.
"Only by living more economically with our resources can we hope to protect our environment and climate," TMD STUDIO wrote.
"By keeping the energy we consume within our buildings for as long as possible, we need less supply in the first place," TMD STUDIO said. "Using less energy to keep us comfortable means that we can become environmentally responsible and more resource-efficient, which are both vital to reducing the effects of climate change."
According to the organization, there are three overriding concerns when designing buildings with better considerations towards ecological impact: the first is the materials used for construction, the second concern is the energy efficiency of the building and the last factor to consider is the location of the building itself.
"The building might be energy efficient and use low impact construction technologies but this would not mean anything if the ecosystem suffers as a result of the building. A greater holistic approach to all of these design factors is becoming more prevalent in mainstream architecture."
This Apartment Building In Tel Aviv, Israel
Urbany said that housing multiple generations of one's family under one roof was commonplace before the middle of the last century, but after WWII, single-family homes became more popular, spurred by the post-war boom and desire to achieve the American Dream.
"Today, people are living much longer which has created a so-called 'sandwich generation' that's both caring for young children and older parents. Therefore, the demand for housing with features that cater to multi-gen living is growing. According to the AIA survey, the most popular features include first-floor master suites, elevators, and laundry facilities on multiple levels, all of which can be found in Dixon Leasing's extensive portfolio."
Winter Has Come In Iceland. Hallgrímskirkja In Reykjavík. Photo By Gunnar Freyr
"Azure Blue Pool" At Hearst Castel, San Simeon, California. It Was Built By Architect Julia Morgan Between 1919 And 1947
Restaurant On The River Ill Flowing Through The Historic Petite France Quarter Of Strasbourg, France
Lastly, we should also keep in mind flexibility. For the most part, families and households are more diverse than ever, meaning one person's need for a formal dining room is another person's demand for a quiet office for their home-based business.
"Homes and layouts that can flexibly accommodate any number of residents, and better yet, evolve with those residents over time, are especially appealing," Urbany explained. "For architects, that can mean creating spaces that are easily divided or expanded with pocket or barn doors. Designers can aid flexibility by incorporating consistent themes and materials throughout."
We might not be colonizing Mars soon, but recent architectural trends are giving plenty of reasons to get excited about the future of construction.