As cities develop, the demands they place on architects and master planners change over time. With growth come new populations and different demographic groups, who demand more housing and greater urban infrastructure. At the same time, this growing population tests the durability of the city’s existing designs.
The impact of such changes can be clearly seen globally. Over more than a decade of rapid development, the priorities and influences of the city’s architects have evolved and expanded as the market for their work has matured.
1. Efficient design
In an economic climate where there is a strong focus on costs, there is plenty of demand for design that meets client needs, maintains a high standard, but doesn’t break tight budgets. Particularly relevant in the housing market, it’s an approach that calls for the clever use of standard materials, fixtures and fittings, while flare has to be achieved without losing cost consciousness.
2. Social housing
Social housing and affordable housing are challenges still in search of a solution in many countries. It is an area that offers a huge opportunity for firms that can develop a bold design that is cost-efficient and scalable. Both will be needed to attract much needed developer interest into a sector that has struggled to attract investment. The right solution could house the middle income families and improve the standards of company accommodation.
3. Championing local design talent
People are starting to realise that there is some great design talent coming out of the region, and it’s not just limited to the field of architecture. Local backing for the design industry can be seen in the development of specialist free zones, the emergence of more regional study options for prospective architects and the commissioning of local practices for landmark projects. This homegrown design talent will also have an important role to play as Gulf states continue to diversify their economies and put more focus on knowledge and creativity as assets.
4. Green building
Green building is a well established idea, but despite the gains made over the last decade, architects face two key challenges in delivering buildable designs. First is staying on top of the evolving regulations, especially as green rating systems become more comprehensive, wide-ranging and detailed. Second is the need to deliver sustainable designs that can be built at standard costs. Achieving both means continually updating your knowledge, so finding easy ways to keep up with changes in rules, regulations and products will be vital.
5. Architecture for people
The decade-long rise in sustainable building has also helped to spark debate about designing spaces that focus on the needs of the people that use them. Some of the same influences that are helping to green the built environment are also making it more people-focused. Positive results can be seen in the likes of the walkable outdoor zones emerging in new developments, with their close and shaded areas making spaces useable deeper into the region’s hottest months.
6. Sustainable materials
Sourcing the right products and materials is an important challenge for architecture firms looking to get every detail of a design just right. Thanks to a combination of public environmental awareness and municipality regulations, there is a growing emphasis on making sure those products and materials are sustainable too. While exactly what counts as sustainable may still be open to discussion, rapid research and clear communication with suppliers are the only ways to stay on top of a trend that will become the new normal.
7. Technological change
Managing technological change is emerging as a key skill among architecture practices. Whether it’s bringing the construction supply chain on board to work with BIM , getting to grips with the potential of 3D-printing, or learning how to integrate new data-gathering sensors into buildings, technologies are coming at architects from many angles. Mastering them all could well be a full time occupation, as well as a crucial means of staying ahead of the competition.
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