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The 2020s “will see the return of the real”, argues Aaron Betsky

As the 2020s begins, Aaron Betsky predicts that architects in the new decade will focus on reuse, flexible spaces and earthy materials.

The LocHal library is an example of the mixed-use spaces Betsky predicts will be popular this decade. Photograph of LocHal library is by Stijn Bollaert.
The LocHal library is an example of the mixed-use spaces Betsky predicts will be popular this decade. Photograph of LocHal library is by Stijn Bollaert.

Aaron Betsky

Crystal balls are notoriously cloudy, tea leaves open to many interpretations, and, according to science fiction films such as Blade Runner, by now we would all be living with replicants. Future predictions are more wishful – or dreadful – scenarios, fairy tales we tell ourselves about our destiny. So herewith some stories for a century that is exiting childhood and moving into early adulthood.

The Roaring Twenties Redux will be about reuse. If the last decade in design saw the construction of monuments to the victory of corporatised computer and communication technologies – which is to say blobs, super-thin skyscrapers for the super-rich, and a mindless minimalism befitting an age in which style is just an app that creates a social media layer – the next one will see the return of the real.

Our agenda must be to reuse, rethink, reimagine, and relive our present

That means a realisation that the earth is ours to lose; or rather, that we are engaged in self-destruction that points to an imminent post-human future, not just as post-deconstructivist theory, but as fact. Our agenda must therefore be to stop the waste of natural resources we cannot renew, stop the pollution, and reuse, rethink, reimagine, and relive our present.

Even if architects still want to make stand-alone buildings, preferably as large and as “different” or “creative” as possible, they will have fewer opportunities to do so. Land is becoming scarce, as are building materials. Codes are becoming more and more restrictive.

The iron laws of economics, at least as conceived from the perspective of those who have the capital and thus can commission buildings, argue more and more for the reuse of what we have. Carl Elephante, the former president of the American Institute of Architects, predicts that by the middle of the decade at least a third of American architects’ work will be in repurposing, restoring, and refurbishing existing buildings.

The aesthetic of the new decade will be one of the New Normality

In that sense, perhaps the very idea of progress is now in question. Whether or not the future is going to be any better seems to be very much an open question, at least for the vast majority of humanity. The last hope of a technological utopia lies in carbon sequestration, wetland reconstruction, flood control, desalination plants, and other gizmos of a hitherto unimaginable scale that will try to fend off our own seemingly inevitable self-destruction. If you want jobs, that is where to go.

Read on >>> Source: Dezeen The 2020s “will see the return of the real”, argues Aaron Betsky

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