Architecture’s role in future lifestyles

indesignlive.com recently asked me in what way i thought Architecture can respond to future lifestyles? My response was underpinned by the concept that we need to support the profession as a broader and more experimental industry. If we do so, we can begin to define our understanding of Architecture not as an isolated building or response but as the way we frame our lifestyle. If we can question our lifestyle; we can evolve.

Below is my full response:

Architecture by existence is typically a static response to the condition of human needs. The design brief which our dead ancestors responded to is not dissimilar to what we recognise today. The built environment has always dealt with similar issues of shelter, politics, responsibility and privacy.

If we do not test our requirements then how can our lifestyles evolve? To answer the above question I’ll assume we use architecture to play an active role in provoking future lifestyle desires.

If we assume our lifestyles can evolve more rapidly over the next century then we need to investigate the way in which architecture can provoke change. If we view Architecture broadly and as the environment which surrounds the way we live then it should in turn be capable of evolving the way we inhabit our environment.

Architecture should in fact be more powerful and genuine than the debate of aesthetics which typically surround our industry.

Architecture is too often exclusive, which eliminates the possibility for public interpretation and mobility. The insignificant decisions that individuals make in life are by nature experimental, so why does architecture as a profession need to be predictable and calculated?

I’d like to see architecture evolve faster and more experimental, this inturn will provoke change. Architecture needs to be responsive but also questionable – personally I am interested in the potential for nomadic lifestyles based around theories of derive, this is of cause one of multiple avenues.

N55 is a young firm that creates ‘Architecture’ by providing instructions for living, their products are not always a building and they do necessarily need a client. The walking house is a project capable of moving location; it becomes a ‘do-it-yourself’ approach which in turn creates a dynamic possibility of freedom. It questions concepts of the profession, landownership and movement.


Manual for Walking House

The project begins to investigate a nomadic lifestyle which breaks down the static nature of our surroundings; the environment which we form around ourselves is capable of continual change. Architecture has the potential to explore these concepts.

Another project by N55 is Called Public things, the project creates a system which is accessible to all and supports the basic needs of living. It explores making the private highly public and removes concepts of ownership; again such a project supports a nomadic lifestyle which questions traditional concepts of the design brief.


Manual for Public Things

By questioning and experimenting with our environment and the traditional values of our current society we can become exposed to change. I believe the profession of architecture needs to begin to explore such values if we hope to provoke lifestyles that are different from today. Architecture responds to future need by provoking new ideas.

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3 comments for “Architecture’s role in future lifestyles”

  • http://kungarchitecture.blogspot.com/ Gosia Kung, AIA

    Thanks, I really needed to see this today!

  • http://www.bemakeshift.co.uk Jay

    For architecture to be relevant over the rapid changes we are seeing before us, it must adapt quickly to the changing lifestyles of the generations who follow us. How can architecture respond to everything from resource management to the Free economies of the Google generation? We are already seeing generational changes in terms of lifestyle choices and outlooks on everything from material wealth to how much time we spend online, inhabiting synthetic worlds.

    This point is particularly relevant to what Josh Pine refers to as the ‘Experiential Economy’- post tertiary and information sectors. To make a meaningful contribution to society, I would suggest that IDEO’s Tim Brown has the right idea by looking at the power of ‘Design Thinking’ as a mindset that moves away from the World of Design to the Design of the World (Bruce Mau). Material objects should support meaningful experiences which are essentially lifestyles – which can be designed.

    Particularly in developed countries, our basic needs are met, and therefore the experiential economy and future lifestyles are what drives most people in a process of self actualisation. I think architecture has a huge part to play in this, its about synthesising the right combination of ideas to dramatically enhance our lifestyles in the wake of new challenges ahead of us.

    – J.

  • http://www.camilletrinidad.tumblr.com Camille Trinidad

    Well I think the pocket house is more convenient because you can put it in your pocket, literally but I find it funny. I saw that in an architectural magazine not so long ago