For 3D rapid prototyping, engineers typically use plastics, ceramics, wood-like paper and metals including stainless steel and titanium to create strong durable, machinable parts.

The world of architecture has witnessed enormous changes in the last 100 years. From the era of the master architects who were committed to design and build their structures; to starchitects of the last decade who believed in focusing on innovative design and leaving the building to technical experts, the role of the architect has evolved tremendously.

New technologies: The pendulum seems to be on the verge of swinging back to design and build format, with new softwares and technologies allowing for greater control back in the hands of the architect designer. The growing popularity of rapid prototyping and 3D printing has made it easier for architects to experiment with their innovative design concepts and implement these in the real world.

Changing expectations: Today, the architect seeks to conceptualize and build structures that look good and also deliver high levels of ‘performance.’ Today’s buildings need to measure up on a host of parameters: from working hard to being green, to having low energy consumption, low carbon footprint, and also being healthy.

Architecture as a collaborative science: Over the years, architecture has slowly transformed from being the exclusive domain of the architect to becoming a collaborative science with teams of consultants on board. These teams look to the project architect team to provide the larger vision and typology of the project. Yet, at the same time, the next generation of architects will have to be open to the exchange of ideas, feedback and be ready to modify plans based on digital renders, assessments of traffic management and more.

Traditional building materials, modern twist Cross-Laminated timber panels, and materials mixed with mud are already being used for initial experiments in regions like Australia, South Africa and South America.

Old discarded shipping containers offer yet another alternate source of housing, where no structure is demolished or created. Old containers are fitted out with necessary facilities, stacked in various combinations and used as homes. Renovations, new offices in old warehouses, zero energy structures … The list is truly endless.

As future society looks for function over form, for green buildings over mere imaginative facades, the architects of tomorrow need to keep pace-with new technologies, new expectations and of course new materials.

What clients want

According to Julian Weyer, partner at the Denmark-based C.F. Møller Architects, clients (today) are more interested in the thinking behind design, rather than just chasing after starchitecture. “There’s a counter trend which focuses more on meaning,” he explains. “Why do we even construct anything? That can be more fruitful-what do we actually need, rather than who’s going to design it.”