Architecture: the intersection of art, engineering, design and technology. While many installations and artworks are temporary, architecture has the potential to remain for centuries, giving permanence to a space in time, an era and the mindset and problems of the people who once lived there.

Architects will tell you the buildings they create are more than a sum of their materials. They’re a direct reflection of the context they were built in, finding solutions to everyday problems – be those problems of affordable living space, fitting everyone in a venue to share an experience, or forging an environment for innovation. The architectural trends of today are reflective of our society as it powers through the 21st century.


Rising temperatures and sea levels, and decreasing natural resources (including the fuels we’re accustomed to) are the most pressing architectural challenges. Architects are reflecting and reacting to these challenges, by integrating the newest technologies and sustainable materials with functional design – while still creating buildings of beauty.The Vertical Forest in Milan, by Stefano Boeri, a pair of residential skyscrapers boasting 900 trees, has already become a part of daily life for some. This year’s winners of the American Institute of Architects’ sustainable design competition include Eden Hall Farm – a residential university campus generating more renewable energy than it uses and teaching sustainable agriculture, aquaculture, waste treatment, and water management. Projects of the future include China’s first forest city in Nanjing, also designed by Stefano Boeri to tackle increasingly dangerous pollution levels.


The trend of Smart Architecture is a product of the technology architects now have available and is also driving change, too. Innovation is woven into the fabric of modern buildings, from temperature self-regulating offices with windows that also respond to levels of CO2 in the building, to solar panels which rotate to follow the sun.It’s not just commercial architecture that has technology running through its veins. Smart homes are spearheading the trend for future residential architecture. Affordable, accessible tech is emerging to let you monitor and remotely control your energy use, or have a device control your heating levels for you, and more sophisticated home security too. 


Economy could be seen as a blend of the previous two, with economy of resources and time driving the core of the two movements. But economy goes further, with the ever-increasing need for affordable housing in inflated housing markets, and spatial economy being a pivotal issue in overcrowded cities. Verticality was an emerging trend of the 21st century and it’s certainly not losing favour. It’s interwoven by the most innovative architects with the concepts of green walls, sky-scraper forests and even vertical farms. The high-rises of the futuremay look less like the Shard and more like WOHA’s Oasia Hotel Downtown.

The other way to be spatially and financially economical, possibly fuelled by a generation of eco-conscious Millennials disillusioned with high mortgages, is the de rigueur concept of minimalism. This is playing out in architectural terms in the concept of micro-living. Micro-apartments are a simple living solution: with fold away, multi-purpose furniture, flexible living spaces and smart, hidden storage.

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