2017 was an exciting year for design and architecture trends. Here’s our year in review – filled with design trends that impressed, provoked thought and provided a glimpse into the future. A hint at what’s to come in 2018 as technology and collaboration bring us to new levels of creativity.


Creative Affordable Housing

Affordable housing doesn’t have to be bare bones, and no designer illustrated that better this past year than Los Angeles firm Brooks + Scarpa. The Six, a five-storey apartment complex for veterans, features a unique cutout design and provides residents with views, ventilation and the opportunity to share interactive spaces.


Meanwhile, 88-year old architect Neave Brown has been awarded the United Kingdom’s highest architectural honour for his role as a pioneer in social housing. His 1970s Alexandra Road estate provides stepped concrete terraces and spacious apartments to 500 residents, as well as direct access to shops, a community centre, a children’s centre, a special needs school and a public park. 40 years later, Brown’s foresight is looked to as inspiration for current housing issues. 

Unreal Reality 

China’s Binhai Library spent part of the year as a social media darling due to its atrium’s curving floor to ceiling bookshelves. Seemingly lined with thousands of books, visitors were surprised to find the majority of the volumes visible in photos are printed images. The library does house real books in other areas of the building and – thanks to the explosive popularity of the building – checkouts have quadrupled since the library first opened. 


The Louvre Abu Dhabi, allowed to share the name of the world-renowned Paris Louvre due to a massive, billion-dollar deal, provides visitors with an otherworldly experience thanks to its intricate latticework dome. Fitting for a building that houses works by Jackson Pollock, Henri Mattise and Vincent Van Gogh. 

The Future Is Here

Sidewalk Labs and Waterfront Toronto are planning a city within a city, one “built from the internet up,” to be located in Toronto’s Eastern Waterfront. Quayside will feature such high-tech touches such as self-driving public transit and new advances in modular and timber-frame housing. With Sidewalk Labs acting under California-based company Alphabet, which is also the parent company of Google, you can be certain the innovative ideas released so far are just the beginning. 


Humans may have been building with wood since prehistoric times, but a current renaissance in the material has technology to thank. Devastating fires such as in 1871 Chicago led architects to move away from the material. However, due to new techniques, raw wood is transformed into mass timber beams that have been put through rigorous fire testing. See the Wood Innovation and Design Centre in Prince George for an inspiring Canadian example. 


Our Favourite Trends

An on-going, worldwide interest in sustainability means we are in a time of constant innovation. In conjunction with age-old dreams of stretching our buildings into the sky, we now plan on covering our skyscrapers in trees. We can thank rapidly advancing technology for many of today’s environmentally friendly possibilities, as well as for buildings that inspire awe as they pay an homage to tech.

Most importantly, the realization is upon us that buildings are a sum of all their parts. It isn’t enough for architecture to look beautiful, for true beauty lies in thousands of carefully thought out details. Building holistic spaces for people to learn, create and experience life within – now, that’s a trend we’re excited about.