Trends in Architecture 2022

The Iconic Awards: Innovative Architecture set trends

Revitalisation strengthens urban and rural areas: It’s the environmental context that counts!

© Kongjian Yu & Jin Zhang

The number of architectural transformation projects on the go is increasing all over the world – steadily, but still too slowly. The trend is gaining momentum especially in city centres, where interest groups, particularly private building developers and housing associations, are increasingly deciding to preserve existing buildings. This development is driven by political requirements, environmental awareness within society and the pressure on local authorities to develop liveable cities that meet the needs of future generations. More and more people are in need of living and working space, especially in urban centres and particularly in the economically strong conurbations.

The declared objective – without continuing to focus on increasing the geographic area – is to optimise and expand existing structures. Strategies for efficient urban use need to be developed and cities need to be renewed from the inside out. However, fear of a decline in the value of their own properties is also prompting owners to undertake ambitious revitalisation measures. In the complex balance between new construction and renovation, arguments for the cultural preservation of urban development play a major role: why not supplement the lack of spatial and typological qualities, push the city forward, and preserve its architectural identity at the same time? The ultimate commitment to a modern interpretation of architecture influenced by local character and to a densification of public outdoor spaces with added value for the population is the order of the day. The guiding principles of modern design concepts include the context of the surrounding environment and the topography of the site in question. Open spaces are also gaining in importance, as the population is calling for more space while densification is increasing.

Considering aspects of ecology, recreation, movement and, not least, aesthetics, the potential of landscape architecture projects is growing. Revitalisation captures the spirit of the times, but remains a challenge in both urban and rural areas. Some particularly impressive construction projects in the area of new construction and revitalisation have been honoured with the ICONIC AWARDS 2022: Innovative Architecture. What they all have in common is a focus on the bioclimatic and identity-creating conditions of the property and the location.

Example projects:

Stable Conversion in Chernex (Switzerland) by Link Architectes

Kulturbahnhof Aalen in Aalen (Germany) by a+r architekten

Forest Fish Tail Park in Nanchang City (China) by Turenscape

The Handan Wastewater Cleansing Terraces in Handan (China) by Turenscape

Station Square Colalbo in Bozen (Switzerland) by Roland Baldi Architects

Architecture with a future: Material matters!

© Fernando Guerra | FG+SG

Sustainable construction is no longer just a trend, but an urgent societal challenge. In order to provide future generations with an environment worth living in, the industry is facing a paradigm shift. The construction sector is responsible for a considerable proportion of global CO2 emissions. How can the grey energy that is generated during the construction of a building and its demolition in favour of a new building in the same place be reduced? Which measures are initiating the much-cited structural change if the aim is to build for more people with less material and less energy?

Sustainable building materials are revolutionising architecture. Combining all the criteria of sustainability, wood is the all-rounder used for thousands of years; it is renewable, locally available and recyclable in untreated form. In addition to its structural properties, it improves acoustics and creates a pleasant indoor climate and a comfortable atmosphere. It regulates humidity and absorbs pollutants. Materials such as cork, loam, natural stone, cane, clay and brick, which have a wide range of properties for circular construction, have also been in the spotlight for some time now. When constructing a building, the choice of materials is by no means the only decisive factor in determining its sustainability. Over the various phases of a building’s existence, maintenance and repairs, renovation, energy supply and deconstruction are assessed to determine whether a building was planned holistically and whether it can be classified as a durable property. There is consensus that relevant emission effects will only be realised in the future when the materials used no longer have to be landfilled after the end of a building’s use cycle, but instead offer added value for future projects. It’s the material that matters! In a world in which more construction volumes are needed worldwide than building materials can currently be returned to the materials cycle, this realisation weighs heavily. This is one of the reasons why more and more construction projects are using alternative building materials such as hemp, bamboo and mycelia, which are cultivated regeneratively and have enormous CO2 savings potential.

The winners of this year’s ICONIC AWARDS 2022: Innovative Architecture impress us with their multifaceted approaches in dealing with new ecological requirements and societal needs.

Example projects:

Stanbridge Mill Library in Dorset (UK) by Crawshaw Architects

Braga Public Market in Braga (Portugal) by Apto Architecture

Historical Archive of the City of Cologne and Rheinisches Bildarchiv in Cologne (Germany) by Waechter + Waechter Architekten

Gemdale Corporate Upgrade Lobby in Kuming (China) by One Plus Partnership Limited

Housing Block Bagebi in Tbilisi (Georgia) by Wunderwerk