Where do innovation and creativity come from in architecture?

Architecture, as a discipline that joins science and art, has constantly evolved with an eye towards new creative imaginaries, seeking to create in human beings emotions that are sometimes familiar, that make us feel the comfort of a primary shelter, sometimes of spaces that lead to feelings that surprise us by the unexpected.


It has always been an effort of this discipline to create and innovate new spatialities throughout the history of man as a social being and insert them into the essence of human culture. This effort is also made in contemporary architecture.

But where do designers and creators go to look for new ideas? Where do the new spatial concepts and the new constructive systems of our time come from, which make us advance towards innovation and creativity? How can a man “Dream” awake? Are inspiration and the formation of new ideas born out of emptiness? Where does the Future come from?


We pose some challenges to make us think about the answers to these questions.


Challenge 1

Project The house of the future

This is a project by:

  1. The year 2000
  2. The year 1956
  3. The year 2020

Do you see any similarity with the image below? How many years separate the photos?

  1. About 10
  2. About 50
  3. About 25


Project Learning Center

The first project (Figure 1 – Plan of a house) is a 1956 study by the English architects Peter and Alison Smithson and was called “The house of the future”.

The project was carried out for the “Daily Mail Ideal Home Exhibition” not to build but to create a debate on what the ideal home would look like in the future 25 years from now.

This couple of avant-garde architects, already in the 50s, designed houses inspired by the concept of shelter, with transformable spaces based on furniture that disappears on the floor, future technologies such as telephones with columns in the various areas of the house, flexible spaces facing interior patios that allowed him to create private outdoor spaces and with a strong relationship of privacy with the house. These concepts were groundbreaking in 1956 and influenced generations of architects that followed.

The second image (Figure 2 – Plan of a Learning Center) is a learning centre at the University of Lausanne in Switzerland by the Japanese architects SANAA from 2004, having been inaugurated in 2010. In other words, 48 years separate the two projects.

With a very different usage from the first design, if we look at the floor plan and abstract from the difference in scale, we can see many of the Smithsons’ design principles in the SANAA design as well.

However, it is misleading to think that one is identical. On the contrary, if we analyze or visit this study centre, we realize that the intention is to open the entire ground floor to the public, leading to the levels of privacy of the interior courtyards being the complete opposite of the idea of the Casa do Futuro. On the other hand, unlike the house of the Future, this one also lives from its exterior facade, with a tremendous visual relationship with the university campus.

Even so, there are principles that unite them, and this is clear from observing both plants.


Challenge 2

Project Endless House

Are the drawings and photographs related to the same project?

  1. Yes
  2. No


The first drawings are of a house by the Austrian-American architect Friedrick Kiesler, dating from 1950, and it became known as “Endless House”. The project, entirely out of the ordinary, was thought of as an archetype of a single-family house, which would lead to the discussion of all the universal themes associated with housing in its essence.

With a biomorphic concept, the house is drawn compared to a human body, closed in on itself, without a beginning and end. It raises metaphysical questions and aims to bring together the spiritual and physical parts of the house in a single object. The result is an organic dwelling whose interior is experienced as something that emerges organically excavated.

Once again, even though it is a theoretical essay, this study marked architecture and the conceptual idea of future architecture.

As for the photographs, they correspond to the project of the Haikou Library in China by MAD Architects. Originating in China but with offices in the US and Europe, they describe themselves as an office committed to developing a futuristic, organic and technologically advanced design dedicated to a contemporary interpretation of the oriental closeness to nature.

The conceptual proximity to the previous project is evident when MAD Architects say they look for a spiritual and emotional response in their projects.

Without books and scale, the photographs in Haikou’s library make us travel through cavernous spaces, humanized by design. This moves us with how they light up and relate to those who visit, something we can imagine happening with the same emotion in the “Endless House”.

Challenge 3


What do the three pictures have in common?

Projeto Cidade Plug-in Projeto Torre Cápsula

Projeto Urban Rigger


Image 5 (Figure 5- “Plug-in City” – Archigram) corresponds to the “Plug-in city” project by Archigram and dates back to the 60s.

If we analyze the images, the city would be made up of buildings that looked like trees, where in the “trunk” (which today we are used to calling “Core”) was the vertical and automatic parking lot and in the “top of trees” Housing modules assembled by cranes were piled up.

The city would be a plural, equipped and sustainable organism, where the entire structure was interconnected and lived in technological, human and cultural unity.

Ideas never seen before in a city designed to connect and disconnect like plugs in electronic equipment.

Ideas that are still being discussed today and difficult to imagine in their time were promoted by Archigram architects.


Image 6 (Figure 6- Capsule Tower – Nakagin – Tokyo) corresponds to the Nakagin tower by the Japanese architect Kisho Kurokawa, built-in 1972. This was the first capsule tower and is an example of the impact of futuristic and often theoretical studies like Archigram.

This tower comprises two central “cores” where housing capsules are assembled as needed. It was designed to accommodate 140 capsules, and the fact that they were not placed all at once meant that the image of the tower was different throughout its life.

It is one of the most iconic Japanese projects and preceded others that, with its influence, emerged in the Japanese landscape and the world.


Image 7 (Figure 7- Urban Rigger, Copenhagen – BIG- Assembly Image) corresponds to BIG’s 2018 project, Urban Rigger, in Copenhagen.

This project started from a prototype designed in 2016, which, due to its success and the need to respond to students’ housing needs in Copenhagen, gave rise to this second one for constructing these six floating sets.

The project consists of housing modules built with shipping containers mounted on a platform that floats and can be positioned wherever you want. Each module uses nine containers placed in a “circle” on two floors to create a central space for conviviality.


Any of the projects do not end with the points explained here, having been selected to make us think about the question with which we started. Innovation and creativity cannot be achieved in a vacuum; they are based on the pillars of knowledge and experience that create bases in our imagination to dream bigger. The secret to daydreaming is getting to know the world around us, being curious and discovering the past, however incoherent it may seem.
The Future is a breakthrough for those who know its traditions, history and world and those who dare to try.




1956: House of the Future



Endeless House








Regresando al futuro


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