How will the architect’s role change in the future?
Innovation, creativity, technology, social changes —These external factors constantly influence and transform industries and the roles within them. There’s no denying how much the architectural design process has changed since the time of Sir Christopher Wren. So, what does the future hold for the role of the architect?
Designing with greater social and environmental impactFrom the Passivhaus standard to green cities to a greater use of sustainable materials, there has been an increased focus on the wider impact building and design has on society and the environment, and this will only continue. This social consciousness was suggested in The Future for Architects report from Building Futures. It noted that many of the recent graduates and students it spoke to at the time cited being drawn to roles in the building profession that had a social agenda and agreed that architecture brought a “social science” to the building process. And, as architect John McRae wrote for Building, architects will place more importance on striking the balance between social and economic value.
Rebranding the rolePerhaps one of the greatest changes the architecture sector could see is a rebrand in what they call themselves. McRae believes architects could become a “one stop shop” for design, value creation, construction, and the delivery of projects. And the Future for Architects report revealed concerns regarding the term “architect”, with many finding it restrictive. Instead, we could see a rise in creative consultants, design houses, and creative agencies, which will have more flexibility in moving with the market, adopting technology, and focusing on “design thinking”.
Greater collaborationThese new creative consultancies could lead to more collaboration between those involved in the design and building process. The report predicts these could “pool the collaborative talents of brand consultants, researchers, product and industrial designers, with architects.”
Impact of technologyTechnology has already transformed the profession, with designs created on screen rather than on paper and algorithm-based programs creating buildings. But more innovative uses of technology could also help architects provide more services and expand their roles. And, as is already being seen with use of 3D-printed buildings, architects are partnering with external tech companies or implementing their own use of technology to deliver innovative methods of building. Meanwhile, Archinect believes architects will increasingly use drones for their work. While many are already adopting the tech for photography, some are using drones to scan sites and provide feedback during the construction process, while others are investigating ways in which to incorporate drone data feedback into the design aspect.
While the name may change, responsibilities may expand, and technology may play a greater role in the way in which work is carried out, the fundamental responsibility of the architect will remain the same. They will continue to use their expertise to transform someone’s dream into reality and consider the way in which building and design impacts our daily lives and the environment.
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