One of our favourite property blogs – Mipim Worldblog – has outlined five  architectural trends to watch in 2015. From 3D modelling to building efficiency to big data, the future is apparently already here.

1. 3D printing… of actual buildings

3D-modelling is emerging as one of the key innovative architectural trends to watch for in 2015. Skanska and Foster + Partners have created the first 3D concrete printing robot. ArchDaily also reports that a team of California-based designers has created a earthquake-proof column using a 3D printer.

China-based Winsun recently produced 10 basic houses in 24 hours using 3D printing.
Hyperlocal Affordable Housing using 3D printing.
In Amsterdam designers are using 3D printing to build a classic and intricate canal house.

2. Efficiency in homes and buildings

Passive homes and buildings are becoming mainstream. Improved insulation, airtight buildings, solar, wind and other renewable energy, and strategically placed windows/shades are all must have features of most buildings being built. New water saving techniques are evolving particularly for areas that have a high drought risk. Low flow toilets, grey water recycling systems, drought tolerant landscaping are also very popular right now.

Design firm HOK hosts internal competitions to push their designers to come up with “Net-Zero” concepts. The first place project was a building design in Los Angeles called SoLAr after the aesthetically pleasing photovoltaic cells placed on one side of the building.

Raised floors in office buildings cost more in the short term, but allow more comfortable and adaptable space for occupants as long term advantages.

3. Glass inside and out

Glass from floor to ceiling on the outside of buildings and in between offices has never been more popular. The material transmits natural light, natural heat, is aesthetically pleasing, and creates comfortable living and working conditions.

One firm, Glass for Europe has exciting new technology including, “a transparent metallic coating that reflects heat back into the room rather than allowing it to escape through the windows”. They also have self-cleaning glass, a must have feature for corporates as a way to save on manual cleaning costs.

4. Extras are back in residential

With the world economy out of the doldrums, designing for relaxation is back according to Alan Brown Developments out of the UK. High end bathrooms and spas are in vogue and in the US, 50% of new builds feature whirlpool baths. Health conscious designs with natural and non-toxic materials in finishes are popular as they to reduce health problems in the long run. Outdoor personal paradise spaces with landscaping, outdoor kitchens and dining, fire-pits, pools and hot tubs, lighting are also on the rise, and this trend will be even more popular this year. Energy efficient investments that save energy in the long run will be at a level like never before. Flexible homes to accommodate “Boom-a-rang” kids seem to be here to stay (literally and figuratively) and many elderly family members live with their younger family. Flexible floor plans with separate entrances can be a useful design feature that can also used for potential rentals.

5. Big data and analytics

With the massive amounts of data that are now being collected, architects will be challenged with how to translate the information into design and better building management systems treating the building more like a living organism that needs constant monitoring. Big data remains an important enabler for this trend, but Gartner says the focus needs to shift to thinking about big questions and answers first and big data second — “the value is in the answers, not the data,” contends Gartner.

Big data and open data can boost turnover through a better understanding of clients and properties.

View full article here.