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How will technology change the way we design a space?

design tech

Design is integral in everyday life; it should be aesthetically pleasing, honest, durable and innovative in order to fit in with the evolving world. Equally as important, it should be environmentally friendly. Whether design is functional or unconventional, it needs to be both intuitive and practical. As a design professor, it is of utmost importance that my students develop a deep understanding of these principles.

Exciting advancements in futuristic living, combined with emerging technology, present students with creative design opportunities. Within the classroom, we are constantly in pursuit of ways to approach design challenges that will revolutionise the future. An ongoing issue we face is the relationship between the increased population and limited living space, resulting in alternative ways of living.

Urban development and housing concerns in Hong Kong and Asia have inspired some of the most compelling alternative design innovations in modern society. Preserving the past by reusing old buildings for a new purpose is one way of doing this. Take for example the North Kowloon Magistracy in Sham Shui Po, which was closed in 2005 to save costs. It is now a creative hub for students of Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD). In the same area, Mei Ho House, currently a youth hostel, was previously a public housing development.

The big question is how these transformations in design will affect the ever-growing population. I believe that the accommodation of future generations will require a major shift in mindset. Traditional homes of today, with separate areas for sleeping, eating and hygiene, will be seen as indulgent. While occupants are involved in activities outside the home, their rooms remain unused and empty. The future of residential living will rotate around shared areas, each catering to the personal needs above.

Emerging technology will also impact on ways of living; while it may seem futuristic, advancements in 3D printing are already producing micro living spaces. I was privileged to be involved in the creation of AMIE1.0 (Additive Manufacturing and Integrated Energy) during my time at Skidmore, Owings and Merrill (SOM). Using 3D printing technology, we were able to create a micro living space. Catering to basic needs, it contained a bed, a compact kitchen-living area and a bathroom. Incredibly, the creation of this attractive 12-metre-long unit created zero waste while conserving energy.

This evolution in 3D printing indicates that building processes will be transformed across the board, becoming the most efficient way to construct effectively. Printers that can print in concrete, plastic and ceramic will be a vital part of the future, as well as those that will be able to change materiality and print in multiple mediums including glass and metal. This will reduce transportation costs from production centres and substantially diminish waste materials. Embracing this concept will spark students of today to successfully create new communities of the future.