Future-Use Architecture expresses the goal of designing today to allow a building to support human occupancy in many possible but unknown futures tomorrow. The project knits together numerous threads of individual and group exploration related to the balance between flexible and fixed building systems that respond to unforeseeable contingencies while conserving the essential architectural design and performance. The work builds on a long-standing pedagogical approach using the lens of resilience to help students in “ARCH-5120: Comprehensive Design Studio” develop their understanding of integrated, comprehensive design.
Using interviews, analytical drawings, and simulation the team is investigating and documenting the tectonic and performative attributes that facilitate long-term use and persistent change of buildings in a variety of cultural contexts and climates around the world. These case-studies include both historical buildings that have been successfully transformed and contemporary buildings that are designed with future transformability in mind. Grounded in these attributes, the team will develop and describe the future-use theory and design strategies, and document it using precedents that demonstrate the significance of Future-Use Architecture for the making of resilient places.
“What is most intriguing and frankly provocative in the Future-Use Architecture is the idea of developing a process that challenges program-centric schematic design,” says Bob Miklos FAIA, principal at designLab Architects and a member of the School of Architecture Advisory Council. He went on, “The body of work and the tools proposed will help practitioners lead and shape the process of planning for the future, rather than simply reacting to market-driven forces.” Commenting on the wider implications of the proposal, Matthias Ruth—professor and chair of the School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs, and the founding director of Northeastern University’s Resilient Cities Laboratory—observed, “We know resilient cities demand resilient buildings, and that no building can be resilient unless the community around it is as well. I see Future-Use Architecture as a particularly architectural contribution to building greater resilience in the built environment.”
The team was awarded the 2017-2019 Latrobe Prize for this project. Recognized as the premiere architectural research award in the United States, the Latrobe Prize is awarded biennially by the AIA College of Fellows to recognize and support a two-year program of research leading to significant advances in the architecture profession. Members of the 2017 Latrobe Prize jury include: Katherine Schwennsen, FAIA, Clemson University; Stephen T. Ayers, FAIA, Architect of the Capitol; Frank M. Guillot, FAIA, Guilot-Vivian-Viehmann; Sylvia Kwan, FAIA, Kwan Hanmi Architecture/Planning; Lenore M. Lucey FAIA, Chancellor of College of Fellows; Jud Marquardt FAIA, LMN Architects; Raymond G. Post FAIA, Post Architects; Marilyn Jordan Taylor FAIA, University of Pennsylvania. In their comments, the Jury particularly noted the holistic quality of the proposal, and its real potential for advancing knowledge.