BA Unit 7: Future-Proof. Yorgos Loizos & Ned Scott

Chris Ware, Building Stories, 2012

“All buildings are a prediction; all predictions are wrong.” (Stewart Brand)

It’s been a very strange and unpredictable year. A year full of extraordinary global events that have profoundly affected the ways in which we live and work around the world. Because of the relatively long time it takes to design and construct buildings and cities, our physical environment tends to be very slow at adapting to what’s required of it. As a result of the time lag between a building as an idea and as a completed entity, architecture is typically a reactive industry which has an overwhelming tendency to play it safe.

The very act of designing a building entails making assumptions about the future; about who will use the building, about how much space they need, about what the weather will be like. These assumptions will always be wrong to some degree and ensure that a building is immediately unfit for purpose upon completion.

If only architecture could be more proactive! If only buildings and cities could predict the future! Sadly, radical architectural ideas can’t simply be rolled out as and when they occur. They must first be tested, consulted on, risk-assessed and costed before their ready for production, by which time they’re often no longer radical or relevant.

To counter act this conservative and reactive trend, this year unit 7 will aim to design buildings which are transient, adaptable and future-proof. To do this each student will take inspiration from the extraordinary depiction of future buildings and cities in graphic novels, and devise their own architectural conditions to inform the brief for a new future-proof building as well as an ongoing narrative to describe how the future-proof building will adapt and transform over time whilst retaining a key sense of its historic identity.

But be warned! If the narrative you’ve created is too safe and predictable, your omniscient tutors may interject and add an emergency scenario to test your buildings ability to endure.

The future is no more controllable than it is predictable. The only reliable attitude to take toward the future is that it is profoundly, structurally and unavoidably perverse. (Stewart Brand)

If you ask an architect to solve your problems, all you’re going to get is a building (Kevin Lynch)