Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Preservation of the Future

Below are two stories evoking different views of the future of design. Ray Kurzweil's vision of a post-human future brings up images of futuristic design such as is already taking place in places like Dubai (left). Witold Rybczynski, on the other hand, points out that there is no need to re-design great cities like London and Paris (right) which haven't changed that much in hundreds of years.

The question is a matter of what to preserve of the past and when to allow new and forward-looking designs. The glass pyramid in front of the Lourvre Museum, the Pompidou Center, and the Eiffel Tower itself are examples of rather jarring modern additions to successful traditional architectural areas. Today, the Eiffel Tower is emblematic of Paris, but at the time it was an astonishingly misplaced piece of metal sculpture in a traditionally stone and concrete city. Such changes are today often referred to as the "Bilbao Effect" in reference to the stunning Frank Gehry designed museum in traditional Bilbao, Spain.

The next generation of designers will need a deep respect for the great designs of the past and a keen understanding of new materials and technological advances that can be exploited to improve designs in the future. The recent development of a new kind of glass that is bendable and as strong as steel will certainly influence the future of architecture and auto design in ways that simply weren't possible before. Will the future look pretty much the same as today or will there be major changes in the way we design?

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