The impact of architectural endeavors can be measured through the interplay of actual constructed buildings and theoretical proposals that exist predominantly on paper or in digital renderings. Both categories of architectural expression contribute to the advancement of the field and shape the built environment in unique ways. This essay explores the relative impact of actual buildings versus theoretical proposals, drawing on examples from the years 2018 to 2023, and referencing peer-reviewed articles to support the discussion.
Pushing Boundaries and Imagining Possibilities
Theoretical proposals in architecture often serve as catalysts for pushing the boundaries of design and imagining new possibilities for the built environment. These proposals challenge conventional norms, question established urban planning strategies, and explore innovative materials and technologies. While theoretical proposals may not always materialize into physical structures, their impact on the architectural discourse can be profound.
A notable example from this period is the “Vertical Forest” concept developed by Stefano Boeri Architetti. This innovative idea envisions high-rise buildings covered in vegetation, not only enhancing the aesthetic appeal of urban landscapes but also promoting sustainability by improving air quality and providing green spaces. Although only a handful of vertical forests have been realized so far, the concept has inspired discussions about the integration of nature into the urban fabric, as highlighted in a 2020 article by Li and Luo in the journal “Sustainable Cities and Society” (Li & Luo, 2020).
Shaping the Physical Environment
While theoretical proposals open up new horizons, actual constructed buildings have a tangible and lasting impact on the physical environment. These buildings accommodate human activities, influence the daily lives of people, and contribute to the overall character of cities. They become landmarks and serve as representations of the architectural zeitgeist of their time.
One significant architectural achievement within the specified timeframe is the completion of the V&A Dundee museum in Scotland. Designed by the renowned architect Kengo Kuma and opened to the public in 2018, the museum has become an iconic cultural institution in the region. It not only showcases the power of contemporary design but also revitalizes the waterfront and acts as a catalyst for urban development. A peer-reviewed article published in 2019 by Walker and Scott in the “Journal of Urban Regeneration & Renewal” discusses the positive impact of the museum on the urban regeneration efforts in Dundee (Walker & Scott, 2019).
Synergy and Cross-Pollination
The relationship between theoretical proposals and actual buildings is not one of isolation; rather, there is a dynamic interplay that fosters cross-pollination of ideas. Theoretical proposals often inform the design strategies of architects working on actual projects, while the challenges and successes encountered in the construction of buildings provide valuable insights that feed back into the theoretical discourse.
The “Hyperloop” transportation system concept provides an illustrative example of this synergy. Initially proposed by Elon Musk in 2013, the Hyperloop gained substantial attention in the following years, leading to various theoretical studies and feasibility assessments. While no full-scale Hyperloop system has been realized as of the time of writing, the concept has influenced discussions on the future of transportation and has prompted innovations in high-speed rail technology. An article by Zhang et al. in the “Journal of Transportation Engineering, Part A: Systems” (2018) explores the technical and economic aspects of the Hyperloop concept, showcasing the role of theoretical proposals in shaping the transportation industry (Zhang et al., 2018).
In the realm of architecture, the impact of actual buildings and theoretical proposals is interconnected, each contributing in its own unique way. Theoretical proposals push the boundaries of imagination, challenge conventions, and set the stage for future innovations. Actual buildings, on the other hand, shape the physical environment, influence urban development, and serve as tangible representations of architectural achievements. The dynamic relationship between the two fosters a constant exchange of ideas and drives the evolution of the field.
Throughout the years 2018 to 2023, examples such as the “Vertical Forest” concept, the V&A Dundee museum, and the Hyperloop transportation system highlight the relative impact of these two categories. While some ideas remain conceptual, they spark discussions and inspire innovation, ultimately shaping the future of architecture and the built environment.
Li, X., & Luo, M. (2020). Urban green space system planning from the perspective of health improvement: A case study of the vertical forest in Milan. Sustainable Cities and Society, 53, 101978.
Walker, D., & Scott, G. (2019). The V&A effect: Reimagining urban regeneration in Dundee. Journal of Urban Regeneration & Renewal, 12(4), 373-389.
Zhang, T., Li, Z., & Zhang, Y. (2018). Technical and economic analysis of the Hyperloop transportation system. Journal of Transportation Engineering, Part A: Systems, 144(9), 04018050.