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5 Top Architectural Trends to Watch for in 2014

Every year, architects and design writers spend a significant amount of time looking back on what has been done before, and arguing about what was a good idea. Open-plan living? Good idea. Glass toilet cubicles? Not good idea. You see how this works.

While we definitely like to lament some of the poor design choices of the last year, we reckon it’s better to look forward to the new ideas to come. So in this article, we take a look at some of the emerging trends in 2014, and do a bit of crystal-gazing on the future of architecture in 2014.

Here are our picks for the top 5 architecture trends of 2014:

Trend #1: Passive Design

 

passive design concept The concepts of passive design.

Passive architecture has been strong in the European market for five years now, but 2014 is the year the concept goes global. A passive building is one that works with the climate, requiring no external technology to heat or cool the interior. Passive elements include:

  • Positioning windows to take advantage of sunlight and warmth

  • Using overhangs to keep rooms cool in summer.

  • Being so tightly sealed and well-insulated that standard appliances will provide much of the heating.

  • Double- and triple-glazing to provide a quiet and peaceful interior.

  • Energy generating technology, such as PV panels, ground-source heat pumps and solar hot water.

In 2014, you’ll be seeing even more buildings - especially public and civic spaces - adopt passive design concepts.

Trend #2: Houses Get Smaller

 

tiny house interior Interior of a tiny house, shot from the loft bed.

Have you heard of the tiny-house movement? In response to the American desire for increasingly larger McMansions - a prime cause of the 2008 housing crisis - many people are pushing back, asking “how big is big enough?” The average US house is 2600 square feet, while the average tiny house is between 100-400 square feet. Many tiny houses are on wheels, in order to get around local bylaws about the required size of newly built homes.

But don’t mistake these houses for shacks and shantys. Tiny houses are often built for high spec materials, many with modern, stylish sensibilities, with passive and energy-efficient design features. Living tiny is a great way to decrease your carbon footprint, live consciously, escape the debt-cycle and simplify your life.

In 2014, you’ll see Tiny Houses incorporated into social housing and high-density housing schemes, while more and more architects are designing their own versions of tiny homes. There will be an increasing social movement away from larger private spaces and toward improving community spaces.

Trend #3: Synergy of Technology and Architecture

 

crime fighting lampposts. Crime fighting lampposts ... not imaginary.

As technology changes at a rate impossible for us to comprehend, we are encountering more and more sophisticated devices in everyday life. In 2014, we’ve going to see even more innovative uses of technology working as part of the overall architecture of a space.

These changes will be most noticeable in the areas of public life and security. For example, rubbish bins that send text messages to their managers when they are full. Or how about crime-fighting lampposts that can detect street fights and alert police? 2014 will see an increase in technology integrated into our buildings, to improve safety, sustainability, and accessibility.

Trend #4: Low- and Mid-Rise Housing Solutions

 

mid density housing Modern high-density housing.

High-density housing is a hot topic here in Auckland, thanks to the release of the council’s Unitary Plan, declaring that certain areas of the city will need some serious infill housing in the next ten years. There’s opposition to this plan from all corners - many people believing low- and mid-rise high-density housing brings slum living and crime and is also responsible for global warming and body odour.

What’s needed are some daring architectural concepts that can transform people’s concept of high-density low- to mid-rise housing. These new solutions will incorporate open spaces, light and warmth, and a connection to both nature and the wider community. They will be energy-conscious, sustainable, and low-maintenance. They will be affordable. They, like this recent Barretta Apartments development in Brooklyn, will be a job to inhabit.

Trend #5: Prefab Everything!

 

Huf Haus. This "Huf Haus" is a high-end prefab residence made by a German company.

Prefab houses aren’t some cardboard kitset fad - if companies like Germany Huf House prove anything, it’s that prefabricated structural elements are a great way to overcome difficult design challenges and tight deadlines on high spec projects. No longer is prefab associated with clumsy design and inflexible space.

In 2014, we’ll see even more companies experimenting with prefab elements, perhaps including modular homes with “moveable” rooms that can expand and shift to accommodate altering family needs, or even spaces that can be added and subtracted as the family shrinks or grows.

What architectural trends do you think will become important in 2014?