With the relentless expansion of cities all over the world, it’s no surprise that ‘urban design’ is a major buzzword in architectural circles. According to recent studies, an estimated 70% of the world’s population will live in urban areas by the middle of this century. So it makes sense that architects are striving to make urban habitation both sustainable and endurable. There are of course numerous approaches to urban design, which like anything creative, tends to change year on year. Here’s a run-down on some of the latest trends for 2015.
As mentioned in a previous post, glass buildings are a hugely popular trend, especially in London. Glass not only looks good, it’s also very effective at letting natural light in. Despite some disquiet voiced in certain quarters about its extensive use, it is pretty safe to say that the glass revolution is showing no signs of abating, which is of course great news for window blind manufacturers.
Metropolitan expansion is forcing farmers further and further away from city centres. Naturally, this doesn’t bode well for city-dwellers who typically crave fresh, local produce. To meet this burgeoning demand, restaurateurs and local farmers have started to create rooftop gardens, containers and community farms. In New York City for example, the Waldorf Estoria features a fully-fledged garden on its 20th floor which is used to serve high-end cuisine in its restaurant. Although this sort of thing isn’t as widespread in the UK, it should be just a matter of time before we too start seeing rooftop gardens adorning our buildings.
Sustainability is another buzzword that’s been around for quite a while. While some find it tiresome, there’s no doubt that sustainability has become a major consideration for all architects and builders.
As the world’s temperature’s rise, heat-waves last longer and conditions become drier, more pressure is being put on designers to use materials which have a minimal impact on our fragile environment. Although not visually evident, you can be sure that most, if not all new buildings in London have been designed with sustainability firmly in mind.
As city-centres become denser, public transportation tends to become overburdened and less efficient. To combat this, new transit systems are being put in place in cities across the world, which can prove extremely important in reducing traffic congestion as well as pollution from cars. Light-rail systems like the Docklands Railway are forecast to become far more common place in the near future. In addition to benefits mentioned above, improved transit has the potential to raise the value of properties which lie in close proximity to stations and terminals. This could be great news for neglected areas of any city.
The Urban Village
Numerous studies have found that city-dwellers place greater value on homes that are within walking distance of shops and public spaces. This is why many new architects in London include shops and ready-made public parks as part of a wider building development. It’s not a particularly new concept – the tower blocks of the early 1960s included playgrounds and shops. But today, it’s being done on a far grander scale. The ‘urban village’ is one of the major new trends in building design.