An architect's view on the future of apartment design


Have you ever imagined what the apartment building of the future may look like? With technology rapidly advancing and the price and demand for inner city dwellings on the increase, it is inevitable that the apartment buildings of the future will be very different to the ones of today.

Brisbane-based Ellivo Architects have compiled a series of trends and technologies that will mould and define what we may all be calling home in the very near future.

Your Apartment:
The apartment building of the future will be close to self-sustainable. Energy will be generated from a combination of photovoltaic and piezoelectric materials. The traditional components of the building (roof, walls, glazing) will absorb the light from the sun with organic solar technology and turn it into electricity and heat. Rain water will be captured and converted to filtered drinking water using nano-filtration systems.

As inner-city sites become limited and costly the average apartment size will reduce and make use of every available square metre.  Storage areas and flexibility of spaces will be a priority. Adaptable room layouts that can be reconfigured on demand will blur the definition of what is currently considered a “room”.

Fast forward even further into the future. Morphable Claytronics will replace traditional furniture pieces allowing beds to morph into a large dining table and then into a sofa. Pieces will mould themselves to suit the individual.  Carpets, tiles, walls, ceilings can morph their texture, pattern or colour on demand and to suit your specific taste.

Intelligent surfaces will transform certain walls and bench tops into touch screens. These surfaces will allow you to read your emails, check your calendar and view the latest surf reports whilst you brush your teeth.

Multi-layered building envelopes will allow glazing to automatically adjust its opacity depending on time of day to optimize the level of natural light.

Your car:
Electric or hybrid cars are already in showrooms and on the roads. Ellivo Architects are currently providing communal and individual recharge points in some of their projects.

This evolution in vehicles will influence car park and basement arrangements and sizes. Adoption of Car Stackers will be inevitable as inner-city sites become limited and costly in a similar way to Sydney & Melbourne. The size of individual cars spaces will be re-evaluated to reflect the average size of the future vehicle and no longer reflect the proportions of a Ford Fairlane or Holden Statesman.

There will be an increase in dedicated bike storage. This will be in direct response to user requirements and government initiatives to enforce sustainable transportation alternatives.

Your Rubbish Bin:
Organic waste from kitchens may be converted into energy through anaerobic systems and stored for common use.  Recycling and communal roof top garden will reclassify. what we consider rubbish and what is not. Traditional refuse rooms and refuse collection system will be superseded by direct connections to

Underground Waste Management Systems, similar to sewer and storm water services. No need for bin rooms, collection areas, and valuable space lost for refuse collection trucks. This system will reduce noise pollution on collection days, reduce traffic, and reduce waste and greenhouse gas emissions.  This system is already being considered by many large cities around the world, including Sydney.

Your Backyard:
The size of apartments are likely to continue to reduce in size. This will place an even greater importance on the communal areas of apartment buildings. These spaces will become the social and entertainment hubs of the buildings. Not only will they incorporate usual amenities such as pools, spas and BBQ areas but also providing landscaped private areas for smaller gatherings. These areas will incorporate intelligent surfaces and wifi technologies. This will allow you to use these spaces as an extension of your living areas to catch-up on work or communicate with friends whilst lazing by the pool. Strategic placement of these communal precincts will be prioritised in the building designs in order to provide optimal aspects, views and accessibility.

Some of the technological advances mentioned above are already starting to work their way into the design of apartments. Other new concepts may take a little longer to come into fruition. One thing we do know is that the design improvements of tomorrow are ever increasing and the way we live our lives will be influenced by these changes forever.


This article was written by Daniel Volpato and Fabiola Dal'Boit from Ellivo Architects.

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