2018 Residency

Eva Geitel challenges the traditional role of the architect

How will architects adapt to the challenges posed by global megatrends, such as urbanization, climate change and the rise of augmented and virtual reality, in the not-so-distant future? Eva Geitel, our architect-in-residency from October to December, and Vice-Chairman of the Finnish Association of Architects SAFA, will spend her residency period trying to find answers.

In addition to her role at SAFA, Eva Geitel is best known for her experimental architectural projects, such as the cylindrical Landscape Pavilion plan in Nuuksio, Espoo, that explores the possibilities of modern wood building. She worked at ALA Architects as a project architect for the new Soukka Metro Station, Espoo and has been engaged in different projects and competitions since then. During her time in New York, Eva Geitel will be conducting interviews with various architecture professionals and composing a set of writings about the future of architects for SAFA’s publications.

 Interior plan of the West Metro Extension, Soukka Metro Station, Espoo, ALA Architects.

Interior plan of the West Metro Extension, Soukka Metro Station, Espoo, ALA Architects.

“Urbanization poses one of the biggest challenges for architects”, Eva Geitel states. “According to some estimates, the urban population will double over the next 40 years. The changes affect how we live, work, commute and travel. As the environment changes, it leads to the question – are we as architects still designing cities, housing and offices as they used to be in the past?”

Geitel is worried about the marginalization of the profession of architects but envisions a solution through stronger participation in the different layers of society. Architects could bring value not merely through designing buildings, but by utilizing their knowledge of building environments and coordinating complex projects in a wider sense. By working outside of their traditional profession, architects could have a significant role in tackling global issues, such as climate change and immigration, says Geitel. The rapid development of virtual and augmented reality also brings both challenges and opportunities.

 Plan for the Finnish-Russian School, Helsinki design competition in 2018, which architect office ALA Oy received a honorary mention for.

Plan for the Finnish-Russian School, Helsinki design competition in 2018, which architect office ALA Oy received a honorary mention for.

“How we understand and experience space is changing”, Eva Geitel remarks. “With the mobile game Pokémon Go, for example, teenagers were suddenly walking until their shoes were worn out and actively moving around in the city according to the treasures in the game. Virtual and augmented reality really can affect how people behave in a space.”

Virtual reality could also be key to more flexible designing processes: decision-making and communication between designers could be made easier by VR-technologies and advanced 3D modeling. Whatever they may be, the opportunities will certainly also be ones that we are yet unable to even imagine, Geitel thinks.

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