The innovations keep coming in CRE, as developers work hand in hand with creative design minds to expand the options for commercial buildings. Many of the latest trends in commercial architecture are heavily influenced by concern for sustainable building practices, energy efficiency, and more livable urban spaces.

Urban Sustainability

As city centers once again become the preferred locale for living and working, developers are looking for ways to improve the aesthetics of urban neighborhoods while also using more sustainable materials and practices. This has led to the idea of “ecotecture,” which focuses on designs intended to make commercial buildings as energy efficient and environmentally friendly as possible. In many cases this involves rooftop gardens that help to conserve energy and even generate electricity using wastewater.  The German parliament building, for example, runs entirely on renewable energy, with systems incorporated to generate power via sun, wind, and water.

Pre-Fab/Modular Construction

As the labor crunch continues in the construction industry, many developers are taking a second look at modular building. This approach can drastically cut project timelines, meaning crews can move more quickly. Basically, the major components of the structure are factory-built, which results in less material waste and better overall quality. Meanwhile, site preparation can be completed, and when the components are delivered, the structure can be erected more efficiently. This approach to building began in Japan following World War 2, when there was an urgent need for massive numbers of quality homes. Now designers are applying the idea to commercial buildings, and finding it to be a cost-effective and sustainable way to operate.

3D Printing

3D printing and computer-aided design have made their way into nearly every industry (Tesla, anyone?), and construction is no exception. Innovative designs utilize 3D printing to produce materials that are superior in strength and adaptable to any project. Printing with concrete is one method that is seeing increased use. Not only can components of a building be produced this way –complete with precisely placed cavities for plumbing and other systems- but some companies are actually printing entire structures.  The savings in both materials and labor costs are impressive.

Jenga Towers

An important architectural trend that adds a new level of interest and texture to the skyline is inspired by a game. Jenga (which means “build” in Swahili) lets players build towers out of horizontally oriented blocks, and also remove blocks in strategic places. This creates a stacked, asymmetrical effect that often seems to defy gravity. The Trendhunter writes that these types of structures are especially popular for condo, hotel, and shopping center properties. Their eye-catching design makes them immediately stand out from the crowd.

Tree-Covered Skyscrapers

Some buildings take the Jenga idea and make it green. An amazing example of this is the Urban Forest, a commercial and residential building in Chongqing, China. The 70-story structure features the stacked design, as well as floor to ceiling windows, and large balconies planted with lush gardens. It creates a vertical green space in the city center.

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