How might we design feed-forward models of infrastructure that are both eco-friendly and resilient, ten years from today?
In this Strategic Design research project, a teammate and I researched the state of infrastructure and hypothesized what the future of infrastructure might look like based on data, technology and innovation trends.
Our final deliverable (displayed at the bottom of this page) is a 32-page report with 15 scenarios and storyboards relating to the future of infrastructure design for urban cities in the U.S.
Infrastructure in the U.S. is not changing and adapting to the needs of our society as rapidly as it should be. A variety of urban infrastructure niches have potential for new, innovative practices, including architecture, public spaces and natural disaster preparedness.
We focused on the concept of resilience and explored how resilience might be used to inform infrastructure design
Resilience: the ability to absorb disturbance and bounce back quickly after a disaster. It involves anticipating disasters and developing systems to mitigate them as well as anticipating changes and developing systems that adapt to change without disturbance.
Through our research, we learned that designing resilient infrastructures in a human-friendly and eco-friendly way is important for governments to measure sustainable developmental impacts as well as reduce the amount of resources and time used on fixing infrastructure in the long term.
Research and Insights
We created a 13-page study report summarizing all of our insights and research:
- Nearly 70% of the world will live in cities by 2050 > Moved our focus to planning for resilience in urban cities
- Climate change and extreme weather are becoming more frequent and intense > Informed our choice to include weather-related changes
- The cost of not building resilient infrastructure is enormous (slide 5) > Reaffirmed the relevance and importance of our topic
- Societal trends we uncovered that guided our problem-solving framework:
- Flexibility First: increased expectations for products or services to have multi-functionality
- Lean Green Fighting Machine: the few standards that do exist for what constitutes “green” are evolving rapidly
- Elasticity: an increase of modularity in products and services
- Stability is Secondary: a cultural change in preference of long-term stability to seeking what’s good for me right now
- Communal Culture: it is becoming more socially acceptable and desirable to make use of public places instead of spaces owned by individuals
- Building Blocks: science is producing materials that open new possibilities for the types of spaces we build and their versatility, i.e., light-emitting plastic, antimicrobial fabrics, translucent wood, etc.
Our final report synthesizes how new trends and technology might be used for various areas of infrastructure in the future. The report illustrates 14 scenarios, including new uses for architecture, using public spaces for new purposes, absorbing energy from natural disasters, using education to improve infrastructure and more.
I developed the first 7 scenarios and my teammate developed the last 7 scenarios.