Each year presents new challenges and opportunities for the architecture industry; these days technology continues to evolve at a rate that renders last week’s innovations quickly antiquated, while end-user needs and demands seem to advance almost at the same rate. These two components provide the basis for most of the trends for which 2018 is likely to be remembered. We’ve picked what we believe could be the top five architecture trends for 2018…
Internet shopping has created a fundamental shift in shoppers’ habits which has taken footfall away from the stores, and online instead. There is, however, a new desire among developers and end-users for smart malls such as BSBG’s Big Box Retail Mall project for developer Al Futtaim. The mall includes sustainable features targeted at reducing the carbon footprint of the building alongside a technology-driven link to e-commerce in many of the stores. In today’s fast-paced retail world, end-users must be serviced in a way that makes the shopping experience far more involving and authentic than that of an online transaction, while also enabling a similar level of speed, simplicity and efficiency. Many retailers and property managers will begin to review and even deconstruct interior retail spaces to ensure the shopping experience expectations of the digital generation are met. Emaar’s two Dubai Mall expansion projects, both of which BSBG is working on, are examples of a property manager/developer’s awareness of constantly evolving customer preferences, and also serves as a reflection of the health of physical retail in the UAE.
The influx of 3D-printed construction projects has proven that the technology is now past the apprenticeship stage and is ready to make a huge impact on large-scale developments, as has been readily demonstrated in Holland, where the world’s first 3D-printed concrete bridge was opened in 2017. A second bridge is due to be finished in Amsterdam in the Spring, printed from steel (pictured below).In Dubai, the Office of the Future became the world’s first 3D-printed office, with the parts printed off-site and transported to the emirate. In a similar vein, BSBG has been using prefab pods on construction sites for a number of years, on projects such as Masdar N1R, Masdar HQ and Bluewaters Island Residential, where the bathrooms are manufactured and assembled off site in a controlled factory environment, transported to site as pods and installed.
New levels of efficiency will also be introduced by automated construction on certain projects to complement 3D printing. Human involvement in construction is likely to begin making way for automation, which is a huge step forwards in terms of productivity and sustainable cost-efficiency for an industry that is arguably at this moment one of the least digitalised in the world. As technological advancements are more readily accepted and adopted throughout 2018, the natural by-products will include better project workflows, a higher level of safety on the construction site, faster delivery and a more satisfactory end result for the client.
Culturally, the majority of the world’s population has a heightened awareness of the need to pay close attention to the state of the environment. In addition, a large cross section of society is mindful of exercise and well-being, and nature is the world’s original gym. These social trends will impact on interior design in 2018, as a move to make interior spaces respond and appear closer to nature than ever before.Natural light is of course an inevitability, but also expect to see grand atria designs, rooftop gardens and carefully designed green spaces in architectureal proposals as we move through 2018.
The need for a building to integrate smoothly with its existing surroundings is to become prerequisite for many developers in 2018. There are many BSBG projects for which this was a key consideration, including BLVD Crescent – a project that features dual stepped towers that correspond to the existing tall buildings on the street, maintaining key view corridors and sightlines of visual importance, and the new Jebel Ali Park Hotel – designed to create harmony with the existing golf course.We expect many architects to look at contextual integration as a fundamental early stage design consideration.
As budget constraints and market challenges continue for many business sectors into 2018, the demand for productivity as a necessity for survival will place great importance on employee performance, and also the performance of the office space itself.Performance-maximising environments are now highly sought after by entrepreneurs and business owners. The target is to gain maximum output, creativity and delivery; and, as many NASDAQ companies can attest to, modern trends such as integrated open-plan creative workspaces and adoption of the latest technology in office systems harbours innovation that has the potential to bring great market share. The office space buzzwords are ‘efficiency’, ‘collaborative space’ and ‘smart office’. Developers and architects prepared to answer this call are likely to find prosperity in 2018.
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