The Future of Architecture in 100 Buildings by Mark Kushner - building for the future

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 28 March, 2015, 10:51pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 28 March, 2015, 10:51pm


The Future of Architecture in 100 Buildings
by Marc Kushner
TED/Simon & Schuster

What is the future of architecture? Such a question grows more compelling the more we think about cities as vast networks in which infrastructure and sustainability are two sides of a complicated dynamic, and the way we build teaches lessons about who we are.

Not only that, Marc Kushner writes in The Future of Architecture in 100 Buildings, but the world's 1.75 billion smartphones are fundamentally changing the way architecture is consumed. Yes, consumed, for part of his point is that architecture is (or should be) not just practical but aesthetic: art with which we interact.

How else to make sense of, say, the Aqua Tower in Chicago, an 82-storey residential project in which irregularly shaped balconies appear to ripple, creating the illusion of a waterfall or cloud? This is a building designed for people to live in and also to look at: architecture as experience, as a key component of a dimensional cityscape.

Kushner's book is part of a new series called TED Originals and grew out of a 2014 TED talk. He's the founder of architectural firm HWKN and website both of which aim to make architecture accessible, part of a public dialogue.

The 100 structures he examines here - some have not yet been built - highlight that objective, moving from the repurposed (a cathedral in the Netherlands that has been turned into a bookstore, a Brooklyn warehouse that is now a 73-room hotel) to the revolutionary (a floating pool in New York's East River that would function as a kind of filter, cleaning half a million gallons daily; a house on sleds, built in New Zealand, that can be towed inland from a flooding shore).

There are designs that challenge our preconceptions, such as Dune, which plans to use bacteria to turn sand into sandstone - and, in so doing, offer "rapidly deployable refugee housing" in the Sahara.

The idea is to produce not only structures, but also ways of working that are innovative, socially conscious and forward looking, through which we might address and even mitigate the challenges (climate change, political instability, immigrant populations) we face.

"If you ask architecture to work for you, and to reflect the priorities of your community and earth, you will be amazed by the possibilities architecture can bring to every aspect of your life," Kushner writes in his exhilarating, lavishly illustrated survey.

Los Angeles Times