2016 Best in Design

At the beginning of the year we made predictions about what trends in architecture and design we would see in 2016. Surprisingly, almost all of our predictions came true and a few are even featured on this list! When compiling our list of the top projects of 2016, we considered what the top trends in architecture were throughout the year and chose one project that we felt most highlighted each trend.  

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1) Sustainability

A major trend for 2016 was sustainability.  There was an influx in urban gardening and particularly in environmental initiatives like the green roof movement. A project that stood out among others for green initiatives was the Zurich North American Headquarters project. Using LiveRoof materials, they were able to cover their roof with live matter that can naturally share water, nutrients and other organisms with each other and requires minimal maintenance.

Read more about the project here.

image © Darin Chamberlin

image © Darin Chamberlin

2) Hybrid Designs

In addition to focusing on sustainability, one of the bigger design trends of 2016 was bringing the outside indoors. Many homes included spaces where the natural environment and the built habitat coincided in harmony. Sebastian Mariscal's 'Venice House' project shows this trend wonderfully by responding to the natural surroundings of California. Each room has panels that can be opened to expose the room to the outdoors and allow a fresh breeze to flow throughout. As seen in the picture above, the rooms are heavily exposed to the outdoors and have minimal closure.

image ©  Patrick Dinnen

image ©  Patrick Dinnen

3) Timber Buildings

Following the sustainability trend, timber became the material of choice for some major projects in 2016. The material is known for being sustainable, having a faster assembly, better heat retention compared to other materials and a safer construction site. Seen above is The  University of British Columbia 'Brock Commons' student residence completed by Acton Ostry Architects. This project is significant for the timber movement since it is currently the highest timber building in existence and was built in only 70 days after the delivery of the materials. 

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4) Pedestrian Friendly Pathways

This year, cities began to reconsider their pedestrian pathways to adapt to new health and fitness initiatives. The photo above shows the renovation by Shade Systems to update the Halifax Greenway in Daytona Beach, Florida. During the day, the Tornado shades bench areas so that pedestrians can enjoy a stroll along the path and take breaks to get out of the sun. At night, dramatic colored lighting bathes the Tornadoes in varying hues so that the pathway is well-lit for pedestrians that want to partake in brisk late night walks.  

Read more about this project here.

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5) Modernizing Site Furniture

In addition to making pathways more adaptable to fitness, there has also been a demand for modernizing pathways to include more bike racks and environmental bins. The picture above shows the result of the Lexington Streetscape project by MKSK Studios. The firm made infrastructure improvements that catered to the green conscious demographic. As a result, they renovated existing site furniture by updating the area's waste management with a recycling option, and added  more bike racks and contemporary benches. 

Read more about the project here.

image © Modern Miami Furniture

image © Modern Miami Furniture

6) Flex Rooms

An increasingly popular design choice last year was a flex room. A flex room is known as a room that removes the traditional function of a space and acts as a multi-purpose room. As seen in the picture above, this shelving unit has the ability to function as a desk during the day but then at night can become a bed. 

image © Bill Dickinson

image © Bill Dickinson

7) Prefabricated Homes

In an earlier article we discussed how tiny houses and prefabricated homes were becoming a popular choice among urbanite homeowners. One of the prefabricated home options that we feel best shows the prefabrication trend is the Kobe. This home can be taken down and rebuilt within a day which allows the homeowner to have a nomadic lifestyle - an element that keeps the trend alive.

If you're interested in learning more about the tiny house movement, you can read about it here.

image © Oregon State University

image © Oregon State University

8) Flexible Work Environments

This year we noticed an even larger shift in collaborative work environments versus independent cubicles. Above is a picture of the open-office at Carlo Ratti Outfits. We found this project particularly interesting because despite having an open, collaborative environment, design firm Carlo Ratti Associati managed to create a system that provided personal heating, cooling and lighting systems for employees. So the workplace essentially synchronizes each employees preference and adjusts continuously to give them the best experience. 

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9) Inclusive Playgrounds

In recent years there has been a growing demand for more inclusive playgrounds and in 2016 we started to finally see more of them being built. Pictured above is the Haynes-Inman Education Center in Jamestown, North Carolina.  Superior Recreational Products provided the Education Center with an inclusive playground that all of their students with cognitive and/or physical disabilities can use and enjoy. As seen above, the playground features a wide ramp throughout the entire structure making it wheelchair accessible. It also has multiple fun and interactive play panels that can be interacted with at any height.

Read more about the project here

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10) Brick Interior

Though brick is traditionally used as an exterior building material, in 2016 there was an increase in using brick as part of an interior aesthetic. As seen in the photo above, Erbar Mattes extended the exterior brick into one wall of the house. We found this project to be very visually appealing because by incorporating the brick as an accent wall, the room has a multi-dimensional aesthetic while also maintaining its brightness.


Interested in seeing further projects? Search our Design Gallery on CADdetails.com or view some additional projects below!

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