Five architectural trends: embrace or eschew?

As 2015 comes to a close, we predict the top five trends for architectural innovation in 2016:

Five architectural trends

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Tensile fabric architecture

Contemporary bespoke tensile fabric structures combine the beauty and versatility of ancient Bedouin yurt dwellings with 21st-century eco innovation that is respectful and gentle towards the earth and community living. New Zealand’s Longbush Ecosanctuary is tapping the potential of fabric for creating a safe and sustainable wildlife education space by configuring a roof made from self-cleaning ETFE foil and PVC-coated polyester membranes stretched over a prefabricated steel structure. The main advantages of using this architectural solution are maximum protection against harsh weather conditions, cost effectiveness and energy efficiency when regulating air and light flow both inside and outside the building in all seasons.

Amphibious architecture

Following the LifE Project’s creation of the UK’s first ‘Amphibious House’ − a family home based on a River Thames island that can sense and float on rising floodwater − the thinktank New London Architecture aims to install 7,500 self-sufficient, eco-friendly and affordable floating houses, worth £150,000 each, along 80km of London’s waterways and bluefield spaces during 2016.

Shipping container architecture

Encompassing everything from the Mumbai ‘Containscraper’ skyscraper colour-coded according to sunlight filtration levels, portable university campuses, offices and artist studios, shipping containers offer a practical, stylish and economical solution to the continuing global shortages of commercial and residential space.

Humanitarian architecture

RIBA International Task Group is responding to the built environment needs of communities facing poverty, human rights violations, civil conflict and/or natural disasters with a new International Ethics Standard launching in 2016. Architects working with the IKEA Foundation and United Nations have managed to send over 4,700 solar-powered prefabricated dwellings, featuring polymer panels and lockable doors, to war-torn countries such as Syria in the last six months. With shelter required for a further 27,000 refugees in early 2016, architectural aid packages include fabric solutions from companies such as for resilience and longevity under inhospitable desert conditions.

Micro architecture

A new nine-story, 55-unit micro apartment tower named My Micro New York is nearing its December 2015 completion date and is expected to set a precedent for other cities around the world struggling with rising rental costs in 2016. The 35-square-metre apartments are being stacked and bolted together and will feature a compact kitchen, combined living/sleeping area, bathroom, overhead storage space and Juliet balconies.

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