How Architects Can Account for the Next Generation of Vehicles
As architects, we spend a considerable amount of time thinking about the future, as it’s critical that the structures we design are still functionally relevant decades after construction—but rarely are the next generation of vehicles taken into consideration, an area that could shake up everything.
Car sharing, driverless cars, electric charging stations - what can architects do now to ensure their work is adaptable to these types of innovations?
While the various technologies required to popularize these products are still in their fledgling stage, they are no doubt advancing at a rapid pace—and seeing monumental investment from just about every major automaker in the world. Therefore, it is important architects properly and seriously plan for the impact this next generation of vehicles will have.
While automakers are focused on the technology of electric and self-driving cars, architects must focus on the immense implications to the environments they’re built around.
Think about the way our cities and structures are currently designed to make traditional, combustion automobiles the centerpiece. Now, imagine how it could all change with the next generation of vehicles.
Here are just a few questions architects should be thinking about:
- Will existing gas stations become obsolete, or will they be reimagined to serve electric vehicles?
- Will reduced congestion and safety improvements from self-driving cars reduce the need for wide roads and make way for larger pedestrian walkways, bike paths and green spaces?
- Will offices, schools and hotels be designed for a constant flow of pick-ups and drop-offs as car sharing becomes more prevalent?
- How much electric charging station space should be accommodated for in a typical parking lot?
- Will parking lots and garages—which currently take up a lot of space in cities—become freed up with a future push toward reduced vehicle ownership, an increase in car-sharing and continuously running driverless cars?
- What will happen to all of that new parking lot space? Will it become more community-oriented, or developed to add more retail, office buildings and housing?
Firms need to—if they haven’t already—start designing the next generation of buildings, structures and cities to accommodate the next generation of vehicles; lest they see a sizable portion of their work become obsolete in a matter of years.
For architectural designers, the future has already arrived.
by Seth Oakley
Principal, Director - Cincinnati Operations
Seth is a principal and the director of operations for M+A's Cincinnati office and has experience working on a variety of project types. He is a technology enthusiast and often an early adapter of new technologies. His favorite animal is a pig because "bacon is awesome."