Investors Shouldn’t Be Afraid of Alternative Architecture

10Apr16
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Alternative Architects

Perhaps one of the biggest changes to the field of architecture, and one that has many investors scratching their heads, is the dwindling number of architects and the increasing number of “creative consultants,” “special agents,” and simply “designers.” The fact is, architects, old and young, are accumulating more and more responsibilities in the construction field, and to reflect this, many are stepping away from the stodgy term in favor of the flexibility and responsibility afforded by newer, more obscure titles.

For more than a century, the study of architecture has been relatively straightforward: Aspiring building designers attend accredited five-year architecture programs, obtain state licensing, and find work at successful architecture firms. However, experts expect that age-old career path to disappear as higher education changes. The costs of college are only continuing to increase around the world, but lack of access to degree programs is not stopping many entrepreneurial young people from achieving their dreams.

Instead, many young architects are achieving their licenses and experience through so-called guerilla education. Guided by industry experts through a proto-apprenticeship, younger generations of builders are learning practical knowledge of the field confidently and creatively outside the traditional structure. It should be no surprise, then, that so many choose to identify as alternatives to architects, providing services above and beyond the regular firm and expanding upon the previous constraints of architecture with innovative materials and designs.

Alternative Building Materials

Steel, concrete, brick, glass, wood – though these are the most visible building materials, they are certainly not architects’ only options as plenty of new structures demonstrate. Structures are going up using all sorts of unlikely substances, such as bamboo, cork, and wool. Engineers are working with architects to create brand-new materials that are stronger, more durable, and more attractive than anything previously seen. Perhaps most exciting for investors, many alternative materials come with much lower price tags than traditional resources.

Sustainable building materials are some of the newest and most thrilling options, as they provide more value for building inhabitants and the global community through energy conservation and waste reduction. Small-scale builders are experimenting with reclaimed items, like aluminum cans, glass bottles, rubber tires, and wooden pallets, and even large-scale industrial-focused architecture can take advantage of recycled materials, like the recycled plastic and steel used to construct custom fabric buildings. An architect’s decision to use alternative, green building materials usually indicates an overall focus on sustainability, which could slash maintenance and energy costs for the structure given the right design.

Alternative Designs

With new architects using new building materials, it makes sense that new structures boast new designs. Unreal curves, fantastic angles, and mesmerizing lines classify the most noteworthy structures of recent years. Buildings like the Ribbon Chapel in Hiroshima, Japan, Riverside 66 in Tianjinn, China, and the Fulton Center in New York are creative and captivating, and though they challenge traditional expectations for architecture, few can deny their magnetism.

It should be no surprise that the desire to build sustainably has stimulated a major shift in building design. Architects and engineers have uncovered a number of building features that lead to better resource management, including south-facing windows and a broad canopy roof. Typically, green building characteristics look and function differently from traditional building features, but in most cases, the differences are only adding to the structure’s value.

Architecture is an art form, and like any art form, it is perpetually changing. Like any art form, its artists are always pushing boundaries to discover new and exciting possibilities. Like any art form, it needs people to trust in the advantages of those possibilities and invest in ideas that at first seem strange. Supporting alternative architecture encourages global progress, in art, sustainability, and economy.

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