Giant engineering firm Arup looks into the future with a vision of what a building might be like in 2050, in their Foresight publication. (PDF here) If you think things are changing fast now, fasten your seatbelts; you are in for a bumpy ride.
In 2050 the urban dweller and the city ar in a state of constant flux- changing and evolving in reaction to emerging contexts and conditions. The urban building of the future fosters this innate quality, essentially functioning as a living organism in its own right- reacting to the local environment and engaging with the users within.
Once again, a debt is owed to Archigram for their Plug-In City, as the building adapts to different circumstances;
Prefabricated and modular systems are moved and assembled by robots that work seamlessly together to install, detect, repair and upgrade components of the building system. Technology spaces and facades can be rapidly manipulated and modified, dictated by factors such as the addition or subtraction of program, density of dwellers, or other context based and environmental cues.
It has everything: fuel cells, algae, wind turbines, farming and more, it is not just a vertical city, it is a vertical bio-shed.
The building helps to optimise city-wide production, storage and consumption of everything from food and energy to water. Brought about by a concern for a depleting natural resources, lack of physical space and drastic climate change, food production systems, like green spaces, become integral elements of the sustainable and smart city.
It is a fascinating concept, full of good ideas. Josef Hargrave of ARUP tells BDonline:
By producing food and energy, and providing clean air and water, buildings evolve from being passive shells, into adaptive and breathing structures supporting the cities of tomorrow.
It's not ARUP's first vision of the future; I still love this video they did in 2009, showing "the transformation of a typical city (Manchester in this case) into a green wonderland of rooftop food production, smart bus systems, turning buildings into photovoltaic and algae generators."