by Jessica Cargill Thompson
Who are the Richard Rogers, Norman Fosters, Tadao Andos, and Richard Meiers of tomorrow? Who will be designing the landmark buildings of the 21st century? Who will be responsible for shaping the 21st-century city? And who will be defining the architectural styles of the next decade?
To spotlight some of those people, I have selected 40 young practices from 21 countries. All are under or just over 40 — "young" in a profession where it takes at least seven years to qualify and where more than a decade can elapse between initial sketches and a building reaching completion.
They represent a cross-section of the best in their field. As yet their body of built work is limited, but their vision and potential can be seen in imaginative projects that range from furniture, private residences, and small urban interventions to major public buildings.
Though a range of styles can be seen, Modernism is still a dominant force, given new twists by technological developments in materials and construction, while the philosophy of deconstructionism has had a profound impact on architectural thinking, allowing architects to escape the tyranny of "four walls and a roof."
Strides in glazing technology, for example, mean glass can be used uninterrupted on wide expanses, and architects can create different effects such as etching, printing, and sandwiching things between panes.
But the most profound influence on today's architects has been digital technology. This affects not only the way business is done, allowing drawings and photographs to be sent around the world in an instant, but the very nature of space itself. Computer games create whole virtual worlds, and with the aid of a mouse we can walk around buildings long before they are built.
This article is excerpted from 40 Architects under 40 by Jessica Cargill Thompson, with permission of the publisher, Taschen Books.
Ramps spiral up through the exhibition space in the Technology Culture Museum in New York, by Asymptote, scheduled for completion in 2005.
At each of Manuelle Gautrand's tollbooths, one colour dominates and is used as a badge for the bright bulbous toilets.
Photo: Philippe Ruault
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