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Trends shaping the future of architecture

The UK architecture industry is thriving, employing more than 68,000 people and contributing £4.8 billion to the economy every year. As a hub for international training and projects, the British industry is truly international in scope, with £500 million in revenue generated from international work in 2016 alone. The global nature of the industry means that UK architects need to be constantly ahead of the curve when it comes to emerging trends in design, sustainability and technology, always looking ahead to anticipate the next big thing. So what’s happening at the moment, and where could architecture be headed?

Here we take a look at the latest trends helping to shape the future of the architecture industry.

Virtual reality

Technology’s role in architecture is omni-present, and it’s only set to increase as the digital age continues to evolve. One of the most significant digital advancements of the last few years has been that of virtual and augmented reality, which is set to play a major role in the conceptual stages of building design. More and more architecture firms are taking advantage of what virtual reality can offer clients by way of communicating ideas and concepts, and as cheaper, more accessible virtual and augmented reality headsets come onto the market, we can expect to see this trend continuing.

Virtual reality versions of architectural designs not only given clients a clearer, more practical understanding of a space – in which they can ‘see’ and ‘experience’ it in a way that they cannot via a 2D sketch – but it helps to provide clearer dimensions and representations of design intent. As the technology develops, clearer visualisations will become possible, allowing clients to ‘walk’ through rooms and get an up close and personal view of the tiniest design details. This immersive experience has the potential to change the way that clients and wider audiences perceive designs, as well as the way that architects design and communicate ideas and spaces before they are built.

3D printing

Technology’s potential impact on the architecture world extends beyond virtual reality and into 3D modelling and construction. 3D printing has enormous potential when it comes to creating consumer items, but the future of this technology may lie in even bigger items – such as 3D printed homes and structures. Take Holland as an example of the potential of this technology: 2017 saw the town of Gemert unveil the world’s first 3D printed concrete bridge, used primarily by cyclists. More recently, construction technologies start-up ICON and housing organisation New Story presented their version of a 3D printed house, which was created in under 24 hours for less than US$10,000. Meanwhile in Dubai, the Office of the Future is said to be the first 3D printed office in the world.

Large-scale 3D printers could be instrumental for the future of architecture and construction. The technology introduces new levels of efficiency thanks to automated construction, along with reduced levels of waste, the obvious advantage of speed and significant savings in cost. While there are still limitations in terms of design capabilities and customisation, the potential for this process is huge.


Sustainability isn’t a new trend in the architecture world, however it is now more prominent than ever as society becomes yet more aware of the importance of smart, environmentally-friendly design and build processes. With 40% of total US energy consumption coming from residential and commercial building sectors in 2016, it’s clear that this is an industry where greener practices are required.

Waste reduction will be key for architects moving forward, as will designing energy-efficient homes that minimise energy loss as much as possible. Expect to see more low-impact construction technologies and methodologies, environmentally-friendly materials and creative concepts such as green and cool roofs, Lumniventt technology and biophilic design as we move towards a cleaner, greener architectural future.

Take your next step

As new trends and technologies continue to shape the way architecture moves into the future, there will be an increased need for smart, savvy professionals to help steer the industry forward.

We have a range of architecture jobs at all levels and disciplines. If you’re interested in finding out more about how we can help you, please get in touch with the head of our architectural practice, Lou Maskell. Lou has worked as a recruitment consultant and leader in the Design and Technical sectors at Anderselite for more than 15 years.

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