When Australia's weather watchers forecasted highs of 125 degrees Fahrenheight a few weeks back, the Bureau of Meteorology had to come up with a new color—electric purple—to add to the weather map. Meteorologists sweating through the Southern Hemisphere's record-busting summer weren't the only ones to find graphic inspiration in global warming. The more dire our climate circumstances become, it seems, the crazier we get with CAD. To expand on its experiments with algae-skinned bio-adaptive facades, Arup recently released its vision for buildings in 2050. Arup's modular eco-tower functions as a self-contained ecosystem in itself, with co-working spaces, food-producing modules that grow meat and produce, health and education centers, gallery spaces, an underground transit network, and aerial cable cars knitting all the towers together. Oh, and the whole thing is built by robots.
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To make the building as configurable as possible, Arup designed modules based on three layer types with different lifespans: permanent components such as floor slabs; 10-to-20-year elements like the facade, interior walls, and finishes; and impermanent IT infrastructure that can be rapidly updated. The 2050 report (PDF) characterizes the building of the future as a sensor-loaded "smart" living organism that responds to the flux of our needs and changes in the environment, "virtually functioning as a highly sensitive nervous system." To get there, we'll need to invent a few things first, like solar PV paint and something called "micro wind power." We'll also need to master biomimicry so we can generate materials that can self-repair (because expecting robots to do all the work would be unrealistic).
If you think your smartphone spies on you, imagine what it will be like once architecture develops awareness. "This necessity for our surrounding environment to inherently understand an individual's preferences and personal needs means all facets of the building network could respond to the specifics of each unique user—down to an individual's genetic composition," the report says. In short, we will live inside bio-robot towers that know us better than we know ourselves. Call it self-surveillance for survival.
All images courtesy of Arup