By Brad Ross, Global Trend Forecasting

In last month’s post, I spoke to the “purpose” trend, which, in and of itself, is transforming countless disciplines. Though impossible to categorize all of its permeations, I’ve decided to focus on one of today’s strongest examples of purpose: architecture.  This medium has always possessed a type of “fortune-telling” quality, giving society an insight to how our environment will “look”, years down the road.  However, these incoming architectural trends are not only informing us to the “how”, but equally important, the “why.”

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The current state of architecture has incorporated many present day ideas of what we (as global citizens) define as important. Propositions like sustainability, efficiency, responsiveness and adaptability, are together being paired with advanced computer software, allowing a greater level of experimentation. A new way of thinking is overtaking the profession.

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This modern thinking and execution are not just stylistic trends, but modes of approaching design. Much in the same way, we see generational trends, mashing up clips of history with futuristic ideals. These methods overlap one another to create complex, but simplified designs, all pointing towards purpose and meaning with a futuristic aesthetic.

The first design approach is called Subdivisionism and is visually described as rounded, curvaceous, or aerodynamic. This technique utilizes the rational knowledge of circulation and environment to produce hospitable fluid structures. As seen below, the meandering forms blend into one another, producing shapes that are not only aesthetically pleasing, but easy to navigate. While the purpose is not to create a futuristic design, the byproduct is clearly a vanguard space.

Neo-Brutalism is born out of the Brutalist age of the 70’s, when architects aspired to direct people’s behavior through form. Today, Neo-Brutalism extends this Pavlovian method by employing the use of glass and steel, focusing transparency, movement and use of space. Just as the name suggests, the simple geometry is forced upon the project with a heavy hand or in a brutal manner, which in turn imposes efficiency, attitude and purpose. An excellent example of Neo Brutalism is found in Apple’s new ring campus, a.k.a the “Mothership”, where its’ “top down theory” building directs the flow and behavior of its inhabitants.

Within the last decade, architects have harnessed the ability to create virtually any form through the advancements of software.  But until recently, the ability to effectively execute their desired meaning remained somewhat absent. Now equipped with both ability and symbolization, enters Diagramism. This new methodology takes the strengths, constraints and attributes of a particular project, to create a hierarchy diagram. The architects then use this blueprint in a process of editing and paring, resulting in revolutionary pure ideas. Effectively used, these concepts harmoniously support each other for maximum efficiency and form.

The visual expression of the Diagramistic is not necessarily new.  as seen in Frank Lloyd Wright’s Guggenheim Museum, however, the ease of representing these ideas is recent.

In better understanding these incoming architectural trends, we will see a reflection of society’s values in both our buildings and our day to day activities. They inform us on the “how”, and the “why.” Simply put, architecture with purpose is an indicator of a new economy for the commonwealth’s norms and expectations. 

Come back next month for more Trend Perspectives with Brad Ross

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