About 40% of all the energy used in the United States is consumed by buildings: lighting them, heating them, cooling them. While we innovate new, clean power sources, it’s also important that we build new offices and houses that don’t waste energy.
Visions to solve these problems include rolling skyscrapers, zero-energy houses, and totally sustainable soccer stadiums. But besides the important work of reducing energy consumption, we also saw building projects this year that worked on making architecture more humane and better able to serve the people using it.
As the work environment changes, people’s houses and offices are starting to combine: What does a new live/work space look like? Can we re-invent the higher-education living experience by building a beautiful dorm that doesn’t feel like a prison? Can we make cheap housing for low-income people that doesn’t look like we’re treating them like second-class citizens?
Take a tour through some of the most exciting buildings of the year:
From buildings sucking water from Himalayan glaciers to round towers that let residents escape from danger, here are 10 ways that architects imagine how the quintessential urban building might look.
A university in Denmark has created a circular dorm that will make you incredibly frustrated at the tiny double room where you spent your college years. Bet you didn’t have french windows, balconies, and a bike workshop.
America is changing how it works. As more people start their own entrepreneurial businesses out of their bedrooms, is it time to rethink how we divide work and living? This new home design makes space for both.
With a $200,000 price tag, the stunning duplex shows that sustainability and affordability can go hand-in-hand, and will hopefully anchor a rebuilt 9th Ward.
The headset manufacturer Plantronics doesn’t much care where its employees work, and to prove that, its new offices are outfitted with a cornucopia of features that make telecommuting simple, easy, and encouraged.
A new resort development in the Maldives (currently sitting five feet above sea level) will be ready if the country starts to go underwater—the whole thing is already floating.
Housing for the poor doesn’t need to be horrible. The Richardson apartments in San Francisco are offering up high-class digs in the hopes of helping to lift its residents out of poverty.
Just because a house is pre-fabricated doesn’t mean it’s easy to move. But Connect Homes’ innovation is to make them fit in shipping containers, so high-end green design can end up anywhere on the planet.
Sitting above a congested highway, this concept building would use algae to deal with the pollution.
Gyms provide activities that keep kids off the street. But in the sprawling slums of the developing world, where do you find the space to put one? This new architectural marvel stacks all the amenities you could want.
Christo, the legendary public artist, has been planning the sculpture called the Mastaba for decades. Is it now about to become reality outside Abu Dhabi?
In 2014, the world’s best soccer players will be playing in a solar-powered, pollution-eating arena.
China is planning a building explosion of dense, sustainable suburbs, connected to its megacities by public transit. Can these "prototype cities" alter the course of the country’s unsustainable development?
PNC Bank’s new global HQ in Pittsburgh is going to be a skyscraper like no other—including the ability to open windows and even take a walk outdoors, no matter what floor you’re on.
More 2012 roundups: