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Four trends that will shape the architecture industry in 2021

Article-Four trends that will shape the architecture industry in 2021

From sustainability to big data and technology, Cityscape Intelligence looks at the top four trends that will shape the MENA region’s architecture industry in 2021

With 2020 acting as a game changer for the built environment, Cityscape Intelligence takes a look at some of the major trends expected to shape the architecture industry in the MENA region in 2021.


With businesses reacting quickly to the pandemic in 2020, the real estate industry – which accounts for 40% of global greenhouse emissions – is looking to make major changes. A chief priority for the built environment and the architecture industry in 2021, sustainability will cease to become a branding exercise as the architecture industry looks to embed ambitious strategic design approaches.

In December, Grimshaw Chairman, Andrew Whalley laid out ambitious plans around the firm’s environmental strategy.

 “The United Nations has delivered increasingly dire warnings about our fragile planet. A performative design approach that searches for optimised building solutions is the critical and only way forward. This must be our generation's moonshot moment. Starting ambitiously and promptly in our own studios is the right thing to do,” he said in his opening keynote at the World Architecture Festival in Amsterdam.

Grimshaw has not only appointed a global practice leader of sustainability to lead the company’s green agenda, but has also signed the World Green Building’s Council Net Zero Carbon Buildings Commitment, challenging businesses, organisations, cities, states and regions to reach net-zero operating emissions in their portfolios by 2030 and to advocate for all buildings to be net-zero carbon in operation by 2050.



In 2020, the architecture industry realised that they needed a way to get ahead of the tech revolution. The proliferation of technology and AI has offered new and dynamic opportunities for the architecture profession to do their job more efficiently. With the rise of Generative Design – using an algorithm to illustrate multiple design options – and 3D printed technology, experts predict that the industry will look at incorporating these techniques into their business in 2021.


Rethinking and repurposing architecture will become one of the central themes in architecture in 2021. Striving for sustainability, the industry will look at retrofitting and adaptive use as they look to reanimate unique spaces and revitalise communities.

Over the last year, Sharjah has been looking at ways to preserve buildings that were built in the 1970s and 80s. The Sharjah Architecture Triennial is located in two of these buildings from that era; a former school and a former fruit market build in the 1980s.

In 2020, the COVID pandemic changed the way offices, retail and the hospitality industry looked at space. This year, architects will look at how office design will need to support the strategy around an all-round best in class employee experience, looking at how more space will be needed for inhouse amenities, green space, and health and wellbeing. In addition, hotels will be looking at under-utilised spaces including the conversion of meeting and event space.


It is undeniable, urban design has been altered by the impact of COVID-19. For urban planners and architects, this year will mark an easing of the tension between densification and disaggregation, the separating out of populations, which is one of the key tools currently being used to hold back infection transmission.

The architecture profession has looked at the silver linings that the pandemic has brought with it and has looked at the crisis as a way of improving the way cities are designed and run.

From the length of sidewalks to introducing a touch free smart city lifestyle, architects will be using lessons learnt from the pandemic to improve the way cities are designed. 


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