article : what will the future of residential design bring?

an article published in november-december 2012 issue of residential architect magazine about the next generation of design written by cheryl weber. feel free to read it in its entirety here.

below are some great takeaway items:

A compacted economy, climate change, and emerging technologies are the game-changers going forward, and that means the concerns of architecture have multiplied at all kinds of scales.

Fisher sees increasing opportunity in renovations for aging boomers and people living in houses they can’t sell … retiring boomers and Millenials, the two largest demographic groups. “They have a lot in common,” Fisher says. “Retiring people don’t want the maintenance of a big yard, and they want access to conveniences and healthcare. Millenials, too, want to live with each other and are moving from suburbs into cities.”

consider Andrés Duany’s vision—albeit a long-distance one. It might be blue-sky thinking were it not based on such a dark premise: We lose the war on global warming. Without large developing countries such as China, India, and Russia obeying the rules, “we’re not going to make it, so we’ll have to adapt to the coming difficult times,” says Duany, FAIA

KieranTimberlake, in Philadelphia, has been researching ways to pinpoint not only first costs, but the financial load of owning a building over time, in terms of utility bills, upkeep, and capital replacement costs.

“Environmental costs are something that younger consumers are starting to care about,” he says. “How much carbon is embodied in a home the day I buy it? What are the life cycle concerns I might have about the materials?” As building information modeling (BIM) becomes more sophisticated, architects are uniquely poised to add value by passing designs through streams of design-making that take such costs into account. For example, architects could fine-tune standard pattern-home designs for a specific location, reduce short- and long-term costs, and help developers with platting decisions. Publicized, those numbers would allow consumers to parse the differences between two seemingly similar houses with different orientations, envelope strategies, and materials.

Architects who are focused on the work that needs to be done in the world can see, if not the future, then at least a plausible version of it. New opportunities will arise, and housing eventually will be designed and delivered much more efficiently, perhaps in ways we can’t yet imagine.

“This is a really interesting time,” Kam says. “Architects should come up with creative solutions that not only answer what owners are asking for, but new ideas to enlighten them. But it will require a holistic pursuit,” working with manufacturers, community members, and professional organizations to make our voices heard.

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