There’s something that almost feels a bit wrong about saying ‘architecture trend’. For an industry that is inherently creative and expressive, it seems more likely that architects will want to buck trends, rather than stick to them. But despite this, every year there are a few techniques and styles that tend to stick around due to their popularity and success - and we expect 2019 to be no different.
What’s particularly exciting about this is that as each year passes by, our understanding of the role architecture has in our lives develops. The best architects aren’t solely concerned with how to design a building, but why - and when it comes to residential design, new technology, techniques, and attitudes are paving the way for some very exciting trends in 2019. Here are a few of our predictions for what we can expect to see:
As the global population continues to soar, along with with rising housing costs, higher stamp duty, and the price of land increasing across the country, space is at a premium.
Particularly in cities and urban environments, which according to the UN will house 68% of the world’s population by 2015, making the most of what room we have has become more vital than ever.
It’s not surprising, then, to see architects at the forefront of a spatial revolution. In recent months and years we’ve seen several innovative designs emerge, which challenge our perception of how much space we actually need - and how the construction of our homes can be rethought.
According to research by Slovenian architects OFIS Arhitekti, some 8,000 micro-homes are being built in London alone each year - and this number is on the rise. These structures feature unusual shapes and aesthetic stylings, coupled with intelligent space awareness that makes the most of every inch available - providing habitable spaces as small as 30m².
As we move further into 2019, we expect more architects to take on the challenge of constructing a home using as little space as possible, and as we move into the future, these principles could become more important than ever.
It’s not just the way we’re rethinking the way we build residential structures, though. In 2019 and beyond, it seems more architects are going to be moving towards designing homes with a focus on modular living - that is, spaces and rooms that serve several purposes as and when they’re needed, rather than being used for a single purpose on specific occasions.
While more traditional designs (such as having a dedicated dining room, study, or lounge) will remain popular for new builds, change could be on the horizon. A lot of this will involve the way rooms, and interior and exterior spaces transition to one another. Dividers and sliding doors will likely become central to this, as a way of ‘opening up’ homes as and when needed.
This is particularly true for families, who often need to make use of their homes in different ways on the fly. By abandoning ‘museum’ rooms that are rarely used or used only at specific times, architects are finding ways to cater to a new generation of homeowner - and in 2019, we expect to see more of these multi-use spaces emerge.
Sustainability has been a hot topic in the world of architecture for many years, as is the case across multiple industries. Specifically when it comes to residential architecture, however, there has been something of a staggered start - this is likely down to the fact that big businesses and large city centre construction projects (such as skyscrapers) usually have a more significant potential impact on the environment, and this additional responsibility can sometimes make them seem more of a priority for sustainable improvement.
While this may be the case, public perception has changed in recent years and the average consumer is now far more concerned with living sustainably than in the past. In a Nielsen report, 66% of people said they would be willing to pay more for products or services from providers who were committed to reducing their environmental impact, and it’s not surprising to see this attitude impacting other areas of our lives - such as our homes.
Along with small scale lifestyle changes such as recycling or switching the lights off, homeowners are looking at the way their properties are actually built as an opportunity to enforce change, and architects are progressing along with this new attitude.
With everything from living walls to rainwater collection systems, architects are devising all kinds of ways that homes and residential properties can be made more sustainable and environmentally friendly. Crucially, it’s not just how homes can be made more sustainable in the long run, but how the process of construction itself can be made more economically friendly.
More studios and firms are emerging with a dedication to sustainability at every stage of the architectural process at the core of their business - and firms who have been operating for years are also adapting the way they work to cater to a generation of homeowners who are clued in and passionate about the impact their homes have on the world in which we live.
It isn’t just the impact our homes have on the health of the environment that people are starting to care more about - but also the impact our homes have on the health of their inhabitants. After years of research and a gradual development of understanding, we now know that our houses have a dramatic and measurable impact on our overall wellness. And with this understanding comes the ability to design with wellness in mind.
In 2019, architects will continue to embrace this growing trend as new technologies and techniques emerge that enable them to design spaces that actively contribute to the health of their inhabitants...
This might not be a trend in as prescient and clear-cut a way as something like wellness architecture, but as the way we work changes and adapts to a digital and interconnected world, flexible working patterns will likely have an impact on how we think about our home designs.
With half of the UK workforce set to work from home to at least some degree by 2020, residential architects are already finding ways to create innovative home offices - and with this number set to increase as we move further into 2019, those designing new homes and extensions to existing properties will probably start to think about how best to cater to a population whose work and home lives are spatially intertwined.
This may sound more akin to a children’s TV show than a design trend, but indoor-outdoor is making waves in residential architecture, and this trend is sure to continue to take hold in 2019 and beyond. People are taking steps to reconnect with nature and the world outside in all kinds of ways, and architects are designing homes with seamless links between interior and exterior spaces for this very purpose.
Similarly to the developing interest in wellness, many people are also making an effort to include a more mindful way of living. Studies and surveys have shown that we spend a stunning 90% of our time indoors, with most of our time split between home, the workplace, or the car/transport between the two.
With fresh air, daylight, and exposure to nature recognised as absolutely vital for our overall wellbeing, removing the structural barriers between the outside world and our indoor lives makes a lot of sense. We’ve seen increasing interest in things like frameless sliding glass doors, and we reckon this won’t slow down any time soon.
One of the best things about architecture is its propensity to alter the ways we think about how we live our lives. This can be something small, such as a ‘living wall’ in an office which makes us stop and reflect on the role of nature in our lives. Or it can be a building itself. For decades, the concept of the modern home - whether that’s a flat, bungalow, or house - has remained, fundamentally, fairly static.
But this could be changing, as a new model of living is starting to take hold, particularly in the busiest and most expensive cities (it goes without saying that London tops this list, doesn’t it?). ‘Co-living’ is a new form of housing which caters to a generation of renters who find the private rented sector too expensive or unsuitable to a more transient lifestyle.
These shared accommodation buildings feature a large number of small flats, from studio apartments to 1-3 bedroom units. The flats are arranged in a format similar to student ‘halls’, with the intention being to drive a sense of community through shared communal living areas. Gyms, lounges, laundry rooms etc. are all provided for everyone to share, and these - along with all bills and fees - are included as part of the monthly rental cost. Contracts are also available for short-term periods.
This is particularly interesting for architects as it presents what could potentially be the new model of home for a generation of young, city-dwelling adults who no longer have the same opportunities when it comes to housing as their elders. With saving for a home less of a priority for millennials, the future could hold more of this ‘built-to-rent’ style accommodation for architects.
In fact, with the number of new-build rental units completed or under construction at 50,000 across the UK as of October 2018, it would seem the future is already upon us. In 2019, this is sure to remain a prominent trend in residential architecture.
It’s not only the way we think about how our lifestyles fit around and into our homes that is changing, but also how we construct those homes in the first place. With a rising population, and new technologies emerging in the form of things like 3D printing, the way architects and designers can approach construction are changing.
Prefabricated homes have become an important part of the architectural landscape, and while they might not be fully integrated into the public psyche when it comes to home building or buying, this is likely to change in the coming years.
2018 bore witness to some significant steps in the development of prefab homes in the UK - with a deal struck earlier in the year to develop the world’s tallest modular towers in Croydon.
It’s important to acknowledge the transitional phase we’re still in when it comes to architecture in prefab homes. While still very much an architectural practice, the process of designing modular homes is starkly different from the more traditional methods employed in architecture. Interior elements need to be considered in tandem with the fundamentals, and the basic nature of a reproducible home built off-site can grate to some extent with the sense that each project an architect undertakes should be unique.
Despite this, with the cost of housing making it difficult for young people to afford their own homes, alternatives such as prefab homes are likely to grow in popularity. Could 2019 be the year of the prefab? Only time will tell…