Second of this two-part series on “2015 Trends in Architecture, Urban Planning and Real Estate”
WITH the Asean integration becoming a big game changer this 2015, expect more architecture, planning, and design firms being more exposed to different Asean and international projects. Contrary to the belief that a borderless practice might be detrimental to the job economy, I believe this will provide a more interdisciplinary, integrated quality in our architecture and designs.
Urban regeneration through adaptive reuse
While demographic adjustments from rural-based to industrialized economies may be inevitable, they place an unbearable strain on older cities and their outmoded infrastructure which are unable to cope with the massive influx of population. According to the Urban Land Institute (ULI), urban regeneration is the tool that cities use to challenge their deficiencies, correct their missteps, and remake themselves. Moreover, urban regeneration projects help generate more international investor interest by intensifying land use.
Transport-oriented developments (TODs) will continue to play a big part in our future developments, especially now with the increasing number of vertical, compact, mixed-use developments sprouting all over our cities. TODs must be located along or near an existing or planned segment of a trunk transit line, feeder bus network, or any form of major transportation mode. This is best exemplified in Hong Kong, where real estate and transit are intentionally linked. By developing land around its stations, the Hong Kong transit system has been able to achieve exceptional transit service, compact land use patterns around the city, and profitability.
Sense of entry design and pride of place
As more commercial and mixed-use spaces develop, many developers are putting a lot of careful thought into designing memorable, identifiable, and unique sense of entries in their projects. Government incentives in the US for example, have started to reward public space in exchange for additional allowable heights, resulting to design changes, among them the inclusion of large atrium spaces. One can see this type of design dedication in Philippine shopping malls, where each major holiday or season is amplified through creative representations in their atrium.
Demand for more functional spaces and rooms
Flexible spaces and rooms suited to the homeowner’s needs will continue to become in demand this coming years. First-time homeowners and renters all around the world prefer developments that have home offices, laundry rooms, and for the high-end user, saunas and game rooms. As more people telecommute from home, office space remains a top and must-have space for renters and buyers. Moreover, customization in the form of specialized storage, from special touches to functional features, are some of the requests from Filipino home buyers. Given the increasing land prices in the city centers, getting the most out of their bought spaces is of prime interest.
Energy-efficient homes through use of new and old technology
Going green is all the rage now in the real estate industry. Developments, whether small or large-scale ones, now need to implement design elements and processes that promote energy efficiency to reduce ecological and carbon footprints. Technologies like solar panels, wind turbines, vertical gardens, rainwater harvesting systems are just some of these elements. According to the American Institute of Architects (AIA) foresight survey for 2013-2014, new materials that mimic natural properties and use of biological elements in structures promise greener, self-healing buildings.
Open-Plan living will continue to be a popular design
Walls are being torn down as transparency and maximizing spaces become a defining factor in new and renovated homes and units. Larger kitchen spaces with islands incorporating the living, family, and dining rooms promote greater togetherness. Places with high levels of social isolation has been known to correlate with declines in well-being and lead to higher health costs. Humans are social creatures in nature, and a home that engage and provide spaces that allow sociability and the feeling of openness can do wonders for the spirit.
Designs that encourage outdoor living
Given the urban problems of our metropolis, some may say that providing for nature in the metropolis is low in the list of priorities. However, it is precisely because of the urgency of the urban problems of congestion, blight, and slums that the provision for open space, or breathing space within the metropolis becomes critical. Pockets of greenery and clusters of shrubs placed from the periphery of the metropolis towards its center serve as air sheds to disperse pollution, bringing in cleaner and cooler air. Green spaces also provide the city’s children with places for play, and their families respite from the concrete jungle which surrounds them.
It’s an extremely exciting time to be in the architecture, planning, and design professions for the built environment and urban development in the Philippines as new technologies and preferences make subtle and major changes on how we interact with our environment.