What will the buildings of the future look like?
That’s the topic of a paper published this week by consulting engineer Aurecon, which aims to identify some of the key drivers behind constructing more technologicallyadvanced buildings.
After speaking to a range of industry professionals, the firm has suggested there are four main drivers:
- Improving buildings for the people who occupy them
- Ensuring that building designs are fit for the future
- Making life easier through ‘invisible’ technology
- Helping drive return on investment when constructing new buildings
The report raises more questions than it answers, but it’s worth a look and does pose some interesting challenges for the industry.
For example, it suggests developing a centralised industry innovation portal for builders and architects to share and purchase solutions and information from around the globe, whether one-off project-based ideas or something more repeatable.
This could help designers and contractors ensure they are using the most efficient and relevant technologies for them, and provide new technology with a much quicker route to market.
We’re already seeing steps to provide cross-industry platforms like this with initiatives like i3P, but this serves a broader purpose and is certainly an interesting an idea.
Aurecon also suggests that the drive to create better spaces for people to occupy creates an opportunity for the built environment to “develop shared services in facilities management”.
This could take the form of building maintenance hubs, integrating electricity, water, energy production, common areas and other forms of maintenance into one place, facilitated by the intelligent application of technology, rather than each individual building having its own systems.
Again, some aspects of this have begun to appear, particularly around shared energy schemes, but further sophisticated thinking about how to develop wider shared maintenance schemes could have interesting implications for the industry.
No-one can predict exactly what form the technology of the future will take, and thus what our buildings will look like.
In truth, they might not appear too radically different from how they do now, but the systems and environments within them are more likely to change beyond recognition (as they already have in many cases).
Those firms who are already considering the future will be best placed to take advantage of whatever change might come.