As we wrap up a year unlike any other, where a world still racked by a pandemic is now also feeling the effects of global supply chain issues and domestic scarcities, where climate changes are proving disastrous for structures whose foundations put profits over safety and where our fundamental human rights to bodily choices and racial equality are being questioned in our courts, it can feel impossible to escape the doom and gloom news cycle. However, what tragedies often prompt are new ideas. And where new ideas affect us all is in the built environment.
It is impossible to disengage from architecture. Even in the most rural environment, structures and designs surround us; they form our most basic shelters and the places we eat, work, play and worship. During the last near two years since the COVID-19 coronavirus was first discovered, there have been several shifts in the practice of building: collectives like Design Advocates or WIP Collaborative have come together to help support underrepresented communities and each other, in turn; green design is moving away from buzzword territory and into a more through-thought conversation on embodied carbon (especially as the benefits of local manufacturing, materials and labor have moved to the forefront of construction practices struck by state of emergency shortages); the global housing crisis became a topic of concern for all as stay at home mandates implied a home to stay in.
Addressing social issues long pushed beneath the surface brought architecture to a more thoughtful place. Though their fixes are not yet fully fledged, our global crisis have sparked new curiosity about how the practice can help to achieve them. Big problems call for big, multidisciplinary solutions. These 14 inspiring designs are helping us look toward such a future.