The Future of Architecture in 100 Buildings
This book wants you to ask more from architecture.
You live in a house, you work in an office, you send your kids to a school. These places aren’t just the backdrop to your life, they shape your life—they define who you see, what you see, and how you see it.
Architecture impacts how you feel every day, which isn’t surprising considering how much time we all spend inside buildings. The average American, for example, spends 90 percent of their time indoors, yet so many of our buildings leave us without natural light, shelter us with low ceilings, and ignore our personal, social, and environmental needs.
It doesn’t have to be like this. We can control this powerful force—we just have to start asking more from our buildings.
This architectural revolution is already upon us. The average person is more comfortable having an opinion about architecture today than ever before, mostly due to the dialogue enabled by social media. The world’s 1.75 billion smartphones are fundamentally changing the way architecture is consumed, turning everyone into an architectural photographer. Photographs shared on social media liberate buildings from their geographic locations, enabling a new level of public engagement. We experience architecture today with an unprecedented immediacy, creating fodder for a global conversation about buildings and their impact.
This communications revolution is making us all comfortable critiquing the built environment around us, even if that criticism is just “OMG I luv this!” or “This place gives me the creeps.” This feedback is removing architecture from the exclusive purview of experts and critics and putting power into the hands of the people who matter: everyday users. We have started “liking” and hating places out loud. Architects can hear us in real time, which has empowered (and sometimes even forced) them to pursue new ideas—to create solutions that respond to today’s most pressing social and environmental issues.
In this new world, one in which people are asking more from their buildings, architects are no longer bound by any single style at any single time. People don’t want their town library in Seattle to look the same as their grandmother’s library in New Jersey. Even architectural historians don’t know exactly what is going on right now because everything is changing so fast. In fact, they will never know what is going on again, because the future of architecture is a frenetic whirlwind of experimentation and a reevaluation of long-accepted habits.
This book considers the public to be a partner in architecture. The questions we can ask of buildings, and of architects, will create a new future—one that will look a lot different than the world we know today. Some of the questions this book poses may seem silly: What if a cow built your house? Can we swim in poop? Can we live on the moon? But two hundred years ago it was wild to ask, Will I live in the sky? Or, Will I need a sweater in the summer? Now that elevators and air conditioning enable us to live in the clouds and freeze in a heat wave, we must ask harder, more imaginative questions.
Architects have the know-how to design buildings that are greener, smarter, and friendlier—and now the public is a partner in this ambition. In one hundred examples, this book is a primer on how you and I and the entire world can ask for good architecture.
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