Many of the concepts are already becoming familiar, such as integrated microsystems that generate on-site energy; water collection and recycling systems; heat recovery surfaces; building membranes that can convert carbon dioxide into oxygen; and even urban food production modules where residents can get meat, poultry, fish and vegetables.
Other ideas are far more futuristic. Buildings will be far more modular, created out of components that can be easily upgraded or rearranged over time — and even assembled by robots. Depending on what's needed, robots could swap in or out components that provide food, such as animal, fish or vegetable farms. Robots would also be able to "work seamlessly together to install, detect, repair and upgrade components of the building system," says the report.
The materials will also be capable of self-repair and maintenance.
This template for the building of the future, the report says, will be accomplished through a multilayered approach: a permanent layer at the bottom, a 10- to 20-year layer (which includes the facade and primary fit-out walls, finishes or on-floor mechanical plant) and a third layer that can incorporate rapid changes, such as new IT equipment.
"In the ecological age, buildings do not simply create spaces, they craft environments," writes Hargrave. "They function as part of an urban ecosystem, promote more environmentally conscious and efficient resource management, and actively contribute to the unique needs of the individual user, as well as the wider requirements of the city."
Partial illustration of Arup's building of the future provided by the company.