The future of building design

The future of building design

New technologies and innovations are always being introduced in both building design and construction. However, thanks to recent events, whether it be the unforeseen impact of Covid-19 or the increasing concern over climate change, we could start to see significant changes in our living and working environments more rapidly than expected. In this blog we explore the factors affecting building design post-2020 and how these are likely to affect what our buildings look like in the years to come.

Sustainable buildings

One of the most notable changes in construction over the past decade has been a shift towards more sustainable building methods and design. Climate change is becoming an increasing concern, and the UK government have set a target to reach net zero by 2050. Construction is a significant contributor to greenhouse gas emissions, and so there has been a significant change in both building methods and design, including the use of new sustainable and recycled materials and green technologies.

There are plenty of examples of steps being made to make buildings more eco-friendly. Features such as roof and wall insulation, LED lighting and double glazing all aim to limit the amount of energy wasted. However, with the aim for all buildings to become net-zero by 2050, more drastic changes will have to be made. Renewable energy technologies, like solar panels, look set to become more commonplace on the average new home. There are also the more unusual methods of energy generation, like the Biq House in Hamburg – the first building solely powered by algae – which may too become more widely seen in the future.


The increased frequency of natural disasters and extreme weather around the world is largely believed to be a consequence we are already seeing of climate change. Hurricanes, tsunamis, wildfires and earthquakes are all occurring more regularly across the globe. Even in the UK, extreme hot and cold temperatures, storms and flooding have gone from being a rare occurrence to an annual event in many areas. As this weather becomes more frequent, we are more likely to see old buildings being adapted and new buildings in ‘high risk’ areas with built-in design aspects to help them withstand extreme weather. These might include the use of water-resistant materials, superior drainage systems, and reinforced structures, all of which can help buildings better weather the storm.

Impact of Covid-19

Coronavirus is having an impact on virtually every aspect of human life, including the way that we live and work in, and interact with buildings. It is highly likely that we will see significant changes influenced by the events of 2020 reflected in our building designs in the future. Inside spaces are likely to be designed with social distancing in mind. Many current offices are open plan with employees working closely together, and smaller rooms often reserved for bosses and managers. We may see newly built offices with more small isolated areas to keep people apart. The 21st century trend for hot-desking is likely to become a thing of the past and common spaces will most likely be made larger.

Pre-Covid, automation was already a growing trend, but recent events are set to accelerate it. Touchless technology – automatic doors, voice-activated elevators, phone-controlled hotel room entry, hands-free light switches and temperature controls – are likely to become more widely used in building design. But that isn’t even as futuristic as it gets. The idea of using self-cleaning bathrooms and pod-like disinfecting rooms as part of your daily routine probably feels very alien, but it’s no longer an impossibility.

While we have seen some of these features creeping into our buildings in the last decade, recent events mean that environmental sustainability, weather-proofing and space and hygiene standards have becoming increasingly important in new building design, and we are likely to see this impact reflected for years to come in the buildings of our future.

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