Looking Backwards to Look Forward
History is something that must usually be experienced backwards. We have a sense of ‘now’, but we can’t tell ourselves a story of where we came from or where we are going without studying the past. This is as true in the construction industry as anywhere else, and Samsung has released a very interesting report outlining where they think the construction industry might be going in the next century.
It looks at the astounding advances in building techniques and materials humanity has managed over the last 100 years, and tries to imagine where this accelerating curve will take us in the next. Is it speculation? Of course. But it is well-researched, and counts as at least an ‘educated guess’ about what the next few generations will be building.
Housing in the Future
Samsung believes that architecture will have to move away from the single-use buildings we see today. For continued growth of our cities to remain anything like sustainable, the building themselves must become two things: enduring and flexible.
Enduring: Simply put, we can’t keep up with the pace (or the expense in time and resources) of putting up buildings just to knock them down again in 10 or 20 years if we are going to have cities two or three times the size of those today. We have to develop techniques and materials which will endure, perhaps for centuries. They need to last as long as the castles of old yet be as large, open and functional as today’s architecture. The ability for these structures to self-repair will be a large part of that.
Flexible: Because those buildings will stay up, we need to be able to change what they are inside easily to suit new uses and owners every few years. ‘Smart’ interior walls which can rearrange themselves and even extrude seats, tables and equipment will, Samsung says, be necessary.
Building Tomorrow’s Amusements
In addition to needing vast amounts of space to live and work, the next century’s exploding population will need places to play. If the amount of leisure time the average person enjoys continues to increase at the pace of the last century, leisure may eclipse work in terms of its importance, and the size of its infrastructure.
Samsung suggests that the future of entertainment will be virtual reality. (Of course, this surely has nothing to do with advertising the Samsung Gear VR devices that they have invested so heavily in of late. Saying so would sound terribly cynical.) If so, then building leisure facilities in the future may be much more technical than architectural, with the end result looking more like the holodeck from Star Trek than the gleaming parks-inside-domes of Logan’s Run.
We shall see. Historically, predictions about how we will spend our leisure time have never been accurate. Who would have predicted social media (besides Orson Scott Card)
Bricklaying on Mars
Samsung firmly believes that people will be living and working in space long term by the end of the next century. Asteroid mining for resources and using those minerals and organic compounds to build space stations, sealed habitats on airless or poison moons and even terraforming larger worlds like Mars may be possible in that time. Of course, they said that in the 50s.
No matter exactly how these large scale off-Earth habitats finally look like, it won’t be astronauts building them. If this becomes a reality, specialist builders will be needed. After all, it took tens of thousands of independent contractors to build the Death Star.
There is no word yet as to whether you’ll need an NVQ level 2 or 3 to qualify as a Zero-G Vacuum Welder, but we’ll keep you posted.