Designing For The Future – What Does It Mean?
“As human beings, we are vulnerable to confusing the unprecedented with the improbable.
In our everyday experience, if something has never happened before, we are generally safe in assuming it is not going to happen in the future, but the exceptions can kill you and climate change is one of those exceptions”
– Al Gore
Our landscapes are changing rapidly, and it is imperative, now more than ever, to inculcate a strong set of principles that define impactful and positive output.
Without collaboration, there is no progress. We can no longer rely on the conventional team structure (Client, Architect, Interior Designer, Structure, MEP, and Landscape Designer) when providing inputs towards holistic space design solutions to develop a thriving community.
Progressive teams today include professionals from a multitude of disciplines, from psychologists, social anthropologists and eco consultants to traffic consultants, geologists and disaster management consultants – a group of professionals you would have never imagined on a round table discussing space design. Breaking away from conventional ways of working, and inviting collaboration and encouraging participation from such diverse disciplines assures a more robust solution, one that is more structured, adaptive and more importantly, responsive to our current plight.
This sits at the forefront, for we as humans have the sole responsibility (and rightfully so!) of reversing our own doing. We are solely responsible for the depletion of our natural resources and our environment, and apart from us damaging our own future, we are responsible for affecting the survival of other species as well.
The key here is that we address this not to survive but to thrive, and our approach needs to go beyond “patch-fix” solutions to such problems, only to add a few more years to the inevitable; but instead must provide a holistic solution that actually stops if not reverses the damage. The fact is that in order for species to thrive (not survive) there is an interdependency between all living things and whether we are willing to accept it or not, that time has come! So how does this apply to design, specifically, within the realms of space?
The key areas that need addressing are urbanisation, waste generation – solid and water waste, and energy (generation, consumption and wastage). We also need to work with government authorities to redefine building bye-laws and urban development policies to at least protect the environment from any further negative impact.
Firstly, we need to move away from centralised civic support systems and treatment solutions to localised systems and solutions, thereby developing the motto, “at source”. Our communities, homes and buildings must be designed such that we produce what we consume. Those that practice this are referred to as prosumers, and this in itself will tremendously change our relationship with our environment. This further applies to construction material, i.e. sourcing localised materials and using local labour. In addition, looking at recyclable building materials and using fast growing trees for furniture such as acacia and bamboo, which are excellent substitutes to teak and rosewood.
Land is no longer an affordable commodity for the masses. Addressing the needs of the masses is key to the successful development of our ecosystem. And it’s not just servicing the need for shelter, but to providing solutions to uplift their lifestyle at an affordable cost.
Remember you’re as strong as your weakest link. Designing for the community is crucial to ensuring holistic development. This also helps bring affordability onto the table. Designs today need to incorporate a multitude of facets into the living ecosystem developing it laterally. A lot of futuristic designs incorporate co living, co working, parks, open spaces, sports centres, malls, libraries and any such activities that foster community development and engagement.
Today technology sits at the forefront of progressive design. Deep learning, IOT and systems design are driving companies into the future, creating efficacy and improvement to already existing business models. Newer business models are emerging with embedded technologies for a competitive advantage in global markets.
The final piece to the puzzle is government support, to allow design thought initiatives the liberty to execute and flourish, keeping in mind the predicament we have put ourselves in.
Furthermore, it requires you to go beyond your conventionally defined scope and not just think about the project at hand, but more importantly, the relationship and responsibility it shares in context to its immediate surroundings, community, city, and the world at large.
In essence, designing for the future means taking an inclusive approach, using a multitude of perspectives from various disciplines to achieve a holistic solution that keeps the user at the center – what we call the design thinking framework.
Founder & Chief – Design Management