How Contemporary Architecture has Transformed Commercial Real Estate

The aim of building something is usually to increase value- for the owner of the building as well as the surrounding community. To achieve this, commercial builds usually focus on timelessness as well as practicality. 

Commercial or public buildings maintain their value for a longer period of time than a residential building. However, architects and builders still need to focus on current trends and needs in order to increase long-term value.

Architecture has to have not just an aesthetic appeal, but it needs to evolve with environmental practices- the use of sustainable and durable materials has become more popular over time. Let’s take a look at how design trends in architecture have changed over time.

Sustainable Materials

We all know fossil fuels are a finite resource and, thankfully, it’s becoming increasingly common to behave as if this is true. This means upcycling materials or finding more sustainable construction materials for commercial real estate. 

Bamboo

Since bamboo is a grass, it grows much faster than a tree. This is why it’s a good choice for sustainable building. It can be crafted into a hardwood that resembles traditional wood flooring, but without the long growth time needed for a tree.

Cork

For environmentally-friendly flooring, cork is a great choice. Instead of flattening a forest to harvest this material, cork is made from just the bark of a tree. It can be removed without cutting down a tree, so the tree can grow new bark and the cycle can begin again.

Ferrock

Ferrock is an eco-friendly option for cement. It is stronger than cement and is made from iron-rich silica and waste steel dust. Instead of disposing of the steel dust, it’s combined with iron-rich silica to create an alternative to concrete.

Cement, Ferrock, and CO2

The Portland Cement plant produces a million tons of cement annually. While producing all that material, the plant emits 800,000 tons of CO2. Ferrock, in contrast, absorbs CO2 as it hardens. The CO2 strengthens the ferrock. 

Glass

Glass is 100% recyclable, making it an incredibly environmentally-friendly building material. Additionally, it can completely change the look of a building, helping it follow or set design trends through the decades. 

Insulated concrete forms

Made with concrete, polystyrene, and plastic web, insulated forms increase building strength, efficiency, and sound insulation. The use of cement forms dates back to WWII, but instead of using wood, we now have more sustainable options with better benefits.

Reclaimed wood

There’s been a movement toward using reclaimed wood in buildings. It can offer a rustic vibe without the work of ageing new materials. Reclaimed wood can be used for flooring, accent walls, and so much more. Giving new life to something is a popular trend in building that isn’t going out of style just yet.

Virgin Hotel Las Vegas may not have used real reclaimed wood on its exterior, but the wood facade gives a retro, mod look to a sophisticated property that offers all the amenities one could need or want. Wood juxtaposed with other finishes, such as metal, acrylic, and greenery can achieve just the right vibe you want for your commercial space.

Recycled steel

Glass isn’t the only building material being recycled in commercial development. Steel from other buildings or old cars can be recycled for future use while still maintaining its desirable qualities. Steel is used in myriad ways (structural beams, roofing, tiles, etc…) because it’s lightweight and moldable. 

Sheep wool

Say goodbye to traditional, itchy insulation and spray foam. Sheep’s wool is an alternative that is biodegradable and less cumbersome to work with. It’s flame and mold resistant and can absorb humidity as well. 

Not only are some of these materials better for the environment, but they require less maintenance over time. It’s cost-efficient and environmentally responsible.

Organic Shapes

The commercial real estate landscape has not only seen an increase in renewable materials but the use of organic shapes as well. Instead of conforming to square angles, four walls, and a roof, builders are opening things up for greater appeal. Organic shapes can increase the amount of natural light in a building, making a better working environment for employees. Structures that seem to blend with the world around them show that beauty doesn’t have to be sacrificed for function.

This inclination is popular in residential building as well; instead of houses that are chopped up and divided into individual rooms, the trend is to open up the living space so everything is connected and increases the appearance of space for any sized home.

Smart Offices

Other contemporary influences on architecture include making things work smarter, not harder. 

Energy Star appliances

If your commercial building includes break rooms with fridges, microwaves, and even dishwashers, invest in energy-saving appliances. You not only get a rebate for installing them, but you’ll save on usage costs over time.

Low-flow toilets

Another way to go green is to install water-saving toilets. A commercial building can have dozens of toilets, so going low-flow can save hundreds of gallons of water every year. 

Green rooftops

Creating a green space on commercial rooftops is a great way to insulate the building naturally. Planting a layer of vegetation on a rooftop can reduce ambient heat up to 5 degrees, improve air quality, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The Environmental Protection Agency suggests choosing between two types of green rooftop options: extensive or intensive.

Extensive Green Rooftop

Vegetation grows roots no deeper than four inches. 

Plants are lightweight and hardy.

All vegetation is low-maintenance.

Intensive Green Rooftop

Vegetation grows roots deeper than four inches.

Rooftop garden is comparable to a public park vs a residential yard.

Vegetation/rooftop requires structural support.

Vegetation is high-maintenance.

Regardless of the type of rooftop you choose, it will consist of the following layers:

  • Structural support
  • Vapor barrier
  • Thermal insulation
  • Root barrier
  • Drainage layer
  • Filter membrane
  • Growing medium (soil)
  • Vegetation

Smart thermostat

Combat fights over office temperatures by installing a smart thermostat. You can set it for comfortable temperatures during working hours, and reduce heating and cooling costs by changing the temperature when the building is unoccupied. Programming a thermostat can save money and increase comfort for employees.

Solar panels

Clean, solar energy is a great way to power a commercial structure. Or, it can supplement traditional electrical power. The use of solar panels can reduce electric bills by up to 75%, and the initial investment to purchase and install them has decreased significantly since they were introduced in the 1950s.

Contemporary trends influence everything from the raw materials used to the type of furniture in a space. And like most style trends, what’s old is new again in just a few years.

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