12 Predictions for Architecture in 2013
Nature showed its might, and small spaces began to seem more right over the past year. How will architecture for everyday homes respond?
Houzz Contributor. I am an architect and writer living in New York City. I have Bachelor of Architecture and Master in Urban Planning degrees, and over ten years experience in architectural practice, split between Chicago and NYC. Currently I'm focused on writing and online pursuits. My daily blog can be found at http://archidose.blogspot.com
Houzz Contributor. I am an architect and writer living in New York City.... More »
Trendwise, architecture is notoriously slow, given the cumulative pace of design and construction. Many trends arise from events in the recent past and changes that evolve over time. To make some predictions as to what trends will shape architecture in 2013 is therefore a tricky affair, combining some glances to the past and some prognostication. This ideabook collects some strands that I see happening in 2013, appropriately based on what actually happened in 2012.
Living with nature. If one single event in 2012 had long-term consequences for the future of architecture it was Hurricane Sandy, which hit the East Coast of the U.S. in late October. Responses to climate change are finally entering the political picture, after being batted about by architects, landscape architects, urban planners and others for years. While the impact of rising seawater points to big fixes (levees, locks and the like) and questions where we build, not all responses need to be big. This Florida island house points to one tactic: raising a building's living spaces above high waters.
Rebuilding with old and new techniques. In 2013 parts of New York City and New Jersey will be rebuilt. An earlier hurricane, Katrina, necessitated even more rebuilding, much of it in poor areas of New Orleans. One high-profile response was spearheaded by Brad Pitt with architects like Frank Gehry, whose design for Pitt's Make It Right foundation is pictured here. The house is fairly subdued for Gehry, but its combination of being lifted up on stilts (not apparently high enough, given the 8 feet of water that inundated the Lower Ninth Ward, where it's located) and having solar panels for off-the-grid power in emergencies is a good model: part historic precedent and part modern technology.
City living. A recent Home Design Trends Survey by the American Institute of Architects (AIA) indicates a growing desire for living in cities. Higher-density living is one reason for this, as is access to public transportation, multigenerational housing and other factors. This trend will not completely replace the desire for suburban living, but it will require more apartment buildings like this one in San Francisco, designed by David Baker + Partners. It's important to incorporate shared open spaces in multifamily housing.
Low-maintenance exterior materials. Another trend in the AIA survey is the use of exterior cladding materials that do not require lots of upkeep. Fiber cement siding is one popular material in this regard, and its color possibilities are exploited in this large project in Brooklyn, New York, designed by Alexander Gorlin. The project also incorporates prefab construction (fabricated in the nearby Brooklyn Navy Yard) to bring costs down, ensure higher quality in construction and allow work to move forward during inclement weather.
Community gardens. One more piece of the AIA survey is the desire for community gardens. Using open space for flowers, vegetables and other plantings not only allows vacant lots or rooftops to be used beneficially, but it lets neighbors meet one another, fostering connections in what are typically seen as anonymous locales.
See more about the garage-top garden shown
Conversions. The rise of cities has come after years of the decline of manufacturing, meaning lots of strong buildings made for industrial uses are now available for conversion to residential and other uses. While this fact does not always gel with the triumvirate of location, location, location, industrial pockets is many cities have turned into thriving residential areas, thanks in part to the maintenance of old buildings.
Contemporary cores in old buildings. The reuse of old buildings raises the question of what happens inside. One tactic is to keep the historical character of an exterior while opening up the interior to satisfy today's desire for modern spaces and amenities. It's amazing to think that this old house in Austin, Texas ...
... is a shell for this open and contemporary interior.
Microliving. In 2012 Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced a call for designing microunits in New York City. These roughly 300-square-foot apartments would address the growing population of singles and young professionals living in the city, a feature shared by other cities. (San Francisco held a vote in November 2012 for units as small as 220 square feet.) It's easy to dismiss living in small apartments from the vantage point of a 2,000-square-foot house (suburban or urban), but if microliving is seen as a design problem, then hopefully creative solutions will make it a good option for people. (My quick sketch for a 220-square-foot unit is pictured here.)
Microunits Are Coming to NYC. See the Winning Design
Microunits Are Coming to NYC. See the Winning Design
Urban interventions. The United States pavilion at the 2012 Venice Biennale was focused on urban interventions, small-scale designs dreamed up and often realized by architects and designers in response to a community need. Interventions like PlayMo in Australia (shown) also bring life to dead and dangerous parts of a city. For PlayMo, milk crates were creatively used to create a temporary social space.
Get rid of the lawn. Artist Fritz Haeg realized his first "edible estate" in 2005, but reversing the trend of resource-gobbling lawns is a slow process. Haeg will create a couple more installations in 2013 (numbers 13 and 14), but his influence can be seen in yards like this one in California. While the plantings may not be literally edible, this design can be applauded for the use of porous paving, which helps reduce the runoff of rainwater into sewers.
Break up the house. Another trend that requires some reconsideration is the bloated size of single-family houses. In lieu of an immediate shrinking of houses, one way of designing a large house is to break it into smaller parts, such as this project in Maine (left: bedrooms; center: living room, dining room and kitchen; right: master bedroom). Breaking a house into smaller components can help preserve important site elements, namely trees, and put residents back in touch with nature's cycles by forcing them to go outside when moving from one part of the house to another.
Suburban infill. When you realize that a home office or some such space is needed in your house, but there just isn't room, consider adding a small building to your site instead of shopping for a new house. This "tree house" in Los Angeles serves as an office and studio on a difficult site, but the creative design 12 feet above the ground makes it a getaway as well, something that could hardly be accomplished inside a large house.
Ideabook updated on Jan. 22, 2013.
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