Technology is advancing at an exponential rate. We have already seen technologies which were once at the forefront of innovation quickly become out of touch if they did not continually evolve to remain ahead of the tech curve. Who would have thought ten years ago the rise of the smartphone would make the iPod obsolete?
Our buildings are no different, they need to be prepared for future technology trends. With these technologies already here or only a few years away, we can begin to imagine how our buildings will be different as a result.
We have identified four trends which will change the way buildings will be designed:
Driving efficiency with driverless cars
Uber and Lyft have permanently disrupted the transport market by allowing us access to personal transport within minutes of opening our smartphones, creating a user-friendly model that is now used globally.
However, accessibility is only the beginning of this transport revolution. On demand cars, coupled with the development of driverless cars, is anticipated to spell the end of personal cars and the need for car parks.
If cars were put into some constant flow for public use, there would be less need for parking space, making way for new development such as housing and workspace. Within office buildings, parking space could also be converted into new, innovative office features such as break out rooms and communal areas.
Given the recent growth of driverless technologies, it is likely that driverless car will be the norm within the next decade. But before workers and developers have even had the chance to adjust to driverless cars on the road, Uber are already plotting their next groundbreaking idea: flying cars.
Is it a bird, is it a plane.. no it's an Uber
Flying cars have become a symbol of the future in films and cartoons, from The Jetsons to Back to the Future. However, the dream of being able to press a button, fly over traffic and dramatically cut down travel time may soon become a reality.
If these trials are successful, the cityscapes we know now will be drastically transformed to reflect this breakthrough. We have already seen how the increased use of alternative transport, such as cycling, has prompted urban planners to modify roads to include cycle lanes. In turn, landlords have created office spaces with bike storage and shower facilities to give tenants more flexibility on how they choose to travel to work.
With flying cars on the horizon, our cities and buildings may be forced to evolve again. It may be the case that after 2020, developers will decide whether to invest in a landing pad on their buildings' roofs for their tenants' flying cars.
Skyhigh delivery targets
Amazon is leading the charge on drone deliveries. Once ready, it is likely going to make the ecommerce giant an even more attractive hub for retailers. Drones will eliminate many of the challenges created by the "last mile" of delivery, the final stage when the package arrives on the customer's doorstep, which is often the most expensive and inefficient leg of the journey.
While improving the experience for consumers and cutting out a key pain point in the delivery journey for retailers, the use of drones will also demand a shift in how deliveries are accepted.
In large cities, Amazon are considering "beehives" for drone deliveries which will serve as centres for drones to take off and land, and will be built to blend in with the surrounding high rises. Similarly, for office buildings, we may see receptions shifting to the roof in order to receive parcels.
That's a bright idea
Our expectations of internet connections have risen dramatically in recent years. Today, even speeds of 1Gbps shared across an office do not always feel fast enough. This may change with the introduction of LiFi, a new wireless technology that is up to 100 times faster than the average WiFi today.
LiFi uses a technology called Visible Light Communication to transmit massive amounts of data, meaning that you are connected to the internet via the LED bulbs around the office. In simple terms: whenever the lights are on, you are connected.
Similar to the predictions that 5G could eclipse the use of 4G, LiFi has the capacity to supersede WiFi. With its impressive upload and download speeds, and its shorter range meaning it is more secure than WiFi, it is conceivable that WiFi will meet the same fate as ethernet cables, or indeed the iPod.
Cities and buildings are not static entities; they evolve just as the people living in them do. While some of these projects may seem ambitious or outlandish to us today, they are all driven by a desire to improve and create buildings that enable us to live and work in environments at the cutting edge of technology.