It’s surprising when I stop and think about the fact that I began working as an architect more than 20 years ago. I’ve seen many changes in my two decades in this profession, including new areas of emphasis like sustainability, and new tools such as 3D printers. Yet it seems that the evolution of architecture and design has really accelerated in the last few years.
One of the great things about these changes is that they keep us, at Patriquin Architects, on our toes. We always have something interesting to learn, and unique, new features to incorporate into our designs.
What’s Driving New Thinking in Architecture?
Why is the field of architecture changing so rapidly? Some of the drivers include:
- The advent of online shopping has caused significant changes in the way retail space is designed. In general, companies support fewer physical stores now that the online experience is key. This makes it crucial for the remaining brick-and-mortar spaces to have exciting, eye-catching designs to draw in potential customers.
- The “+cafe” addition within traditional typologies has become common — think bookstore+cafe, bank+cafe, library+cafe, market+cafe, office+cafe. It’s only a matter of time before we’re asked to design a cafe+cafe!
- The common model for offices has expanded to include co-working space. Plans tend to include a variety of social areas, collaboration spaces, and even places for finding inspiration, such as a gallery.
- Vehicle charging is showing up in parking lots, but has not yet become an “experience” where users can be entertained, dine, exercise, etc. Gas stations and rest stops have begun to transition, but other locations may soon use vehicle charging to attract customer attention – movie theaters, shopping areas, tourist attractions.
- LED lighting is relatively new, and lighting controls are getting more and more sophisticated. Circadian lighting, for example, not only adjusts the amount of light needed in a given area based on natural lighting levels, it also changes color to mimic and enhance the body’s natural circadian rhythms. This means coolest at midday, warmest at day’s end.
- Energy modeling is improving the design of Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning (HVAC) systems, including HRV (Heat Recovery and Ventilation) and ERV (Energy Recovery Ventilation) solutions. The constant priority of minimizing building energy use is driving whole industries to create better insulation and air/water barrier systems, better windows, and high-efficiency HVAC systems.
- Wi-Fi is everywhere, since it’s required for an ever-growing list of devices: personal electronics, small appliances, lighting, security, HVAC programming, etc.
- The existence of LEED certification has helped produce major changes in the way people think about locating and reusing buildings, sourcing materials, the type and amount of energy needed to operate a building, and other sustainable design concerns.
- The next generation of sustainability certifications takes the successes of LEED and adds to them:
- Whole Building Certification
- Specialty certifications — extremely low energy usage, etc.
- Occupancy-centered certifications, which take better account of users’ ongoing health within a building
- All certifications are demanding operating practices that are mindful and measurable, meaning we can learn from past projects and continue to improve.
- Wood has garnered significant attention in recent years for its low-embodied energy, and new engineered wood products are being used as major structural elements. Many architects are turning to cross-laminated timber (CLT) panels for floor and wall assemblies, or glue-laminated timber beams for spanning large distance, rather than more energy-intensive concrete or steel.
- Advanced pre-fabrication of building elements is increasingly common-place. Using shop tools such as laser-cutters, 3D-printers, or CNC (computer-numerically controlled) router machines allows whole parts of buildings to be precisely fabricated off-site. This results in more efficient construction, as well as expanded opportunities for artistic expression.
Tracking Trends to Expand Client Options
One of the ways we serve our clients is by staying on top of the latest developments in architecture. That way we can help them make informed decisions about what new technologies to incorporate into their building designs, how to produce the highest-performing buildings, and how to enhance the experiences of building occupants.
What are the trends that will affect your next project? We’re happy to talk with you about your objectives and how best to meet them. Please contact us at your convenience.