Architecture today is falling behind many fields it once influenced, remaining entrenched in static modes of design while innovations in aerospace, automotive, and engineering fields have long since moved on to consider dynamic flows of forces in time (Lynn). With developments such as carbon fiber composites and nanotechnology, architecture can no longer blame material and technological constraints for a lack of change in the building industry and its product. As new technologies converge, the profession is at a critical juncture–will it embrace technological development and take advantage of existing research in science and industry and begin to regain its influence, or will it continue to allow itself to be sidelined under the weight of tradition and the threat of liability? We believe that architecture must embrace the element of time and move to a dynamic architecture, facilitated by technology, that will allow it to remain relevant for decades to come.
We begin a progression into this new mode of design by accepting the following:
1. Time is always at play. Conditions are ever-changing.
2. Optimization is not possible. There is only compromise.
3. Form cannot ultimately be static. Only a dynamic response can account for dynamic conditions.
The critique of architectural form to date has largely accepted it as static, valuing the sense (or illusion) of permanence, strength and power that a building can impart. Responses to conditions, even with respect to time, have attempted to do so in a manner that seeks a single optimal form for it to assume for the entirety of its existence. While we as architects understand that these conditions–such as environment, structure, context, and program–change over time, we continue designing static spaces that are far below the potential enabled by current technology. This is because we have accepted that attempts at optimization are the only possible response.
There will never be a building or space that always optimally addresses all of the conditions at play in a given environment. We design with conscious or unconscious intentions to consider some conditions more significant than others. This is good because–without doing so–we would find ourselves attempting to consider program over structure and inevitably put people at risk. We create quality buildings and spaces by prioritizing our responses, considering trade-offs and compromising.
In such a reality architecture is disadvantaged if its only possible response is static form. If it is ever to respond appropriately to dynamic conditions form too must be dynamic. This presents challenges to architecture that convention cannot address, which is why the profession must cultivate innovation. We seek to discover what is necessary for form to be dynamic and to understand the implications of that shift for architecture.
Dynamic Authorship For Dynamic Conditions
Dynamic form calls authorship of form into question. It breeds an entirely new set of design considerations unprecedented for the architect. If form has the ability to adapt, how can we ensure that form is still articulated and informed so that it can maintain some aesthetic and metaphysical quality. The architect of the future may therefore see a resurgence of cultural significance as clients depend on the architect’s training to shape their dynamic existence. One could question whether the architect even exists in such a world, suggesting that it is the individual who will maintain her specific reality. This may be; however we believe it will be an opportunity for the architect to take the lead in designing dynamic spatial environments in a ongoing fashion.