how has technology led to the globalization of architecture?


Hi i am doing a project on the question: how has technology led to the globalization of architecture? and was looking for peoples thoughts, arguments and answers. Thank you! :D

Mar 16, 13 12:05 pm

It hasn't. Architecture has always been a global force dictated by local climate and cultural vernacular. 

You're chasing a story that isn't there. 

Mar 16, 13 8:33 pm  · 

Actually, starrchitect, architecture was dictated by local climate and cultural vernacular.

Now it is largely - at least in the industrialized world - dictated by technology, which is seen as the solution to problems created by technology and bad design. Thus we have geothermal heat pumps instead of passive solar, building materials imported from countries around the globe, etc., etc.

Mar 16, 13 8:43 pm  · 

@ Miles Jaffe:

I disagree. What you're describing is the globalization of engineering and its material science, not architecture. 

Mar 16, 13 8:47 pm  · 

So engineering and material sciences have no influence on global architecture? LOL, tell that to Frank Gehry.

How was Bilbao dictated by local culture and climate? Or the Centre Pompidou, or the People's Building Shanghai, or The Sydney Opera House, or the Bird's Nest (Beijing National Stadium) or any contemporary highrise anywhere in the world?

The global spread of technology has resulted in many cultures around the world abandoning indigenous architecture and building technology, often with disastrous cultural results.

Mar 16, 13 9:31 pm  · 

My initial reaction is to agree with Miles, until I look at the question more carefully.

“How has technology led to the globalization of architecture?”

I don’t know that technology has led to the globalization of architecture.  It has certainly facilitated the globalization of architecture, and culture in general, but I don’t know whether it has caused it, which is what the phrasing of the question implies.

I certainly agree that technology has allowed vernacular methods to be abandoned; however, globalization is not new.  The importation of classical styles to the Americas was globalization.  Before that, the importation of classical styles into England was globalization.  The influence of Japanese culture and aesthetics was globalization, etc.  Perhaps we want to globalize and use the means we have available to support it.

I assume that this is a school project.  I would consider changing the question slightly if you can, especially if your professor is particular.

Mar 16, 13 9:54 pm  · 


You might want to look at the definition of architecture and the definition of engineering. What you are referring to are engineering components of architecture, and not architecture as a whole. Your argument is like saying that romance novels cover the whole spectrum of literature. 

All those buildings that you mentioned are architectural programs that have been around for centuries (museum, stadium, opera house, etc)-nothing new as a result of globalization. Yes, the 50 story high rise that now exists in Malaysia or Singapore is a result of engineering globalization, but its still addressing the same architectural programs that have always existed relative to climate and culture. 

Mar 16, 13 11:28 pm  · 

starrchitect, how are Bilbao (a Spanish museum designed by American architect) or the Bird's Nest (a Chinese stadium designed by Swiss architects) or the Petronas Towers (a Malaysian office building designed by an Argentinian architect and built by Japanese and Korean contractors) "dictated by local climate and cultural vernacular"?

Mar 17, 13 11:31 am  · 


See my previous comment and pay close attention.

Based on all the examples you've given me you are mistaking new formwork as a result of advanced engineering as the globalization of architecture.  At the end of the  day, a new program wasn't invented nor a new typology (to say the least). When it comes to architecture, formwork is not the sum of the parts.

Bilbao is not the first museum in Spain, Petronas is not the first high rise in SE Asia, and Bird's Nest is not the first stadium in China. So how is this an example of globalization? How were they dictated by climate and culture, you ask? If you can't figure that out as an architect, I don't know what to tell you.

Mar 17, 13 12:59 pm  · 

starrchitect, since you won't answer a direct and very specific question, I can only assume that you can't.

The point is not that museums never existed before, or that Spain never had a museum, but rather that a foreign museum, designed by a foreign architect, and housing a foreign-owned global art collection, was built as a tourist attraction to stimulate the economy. And no, tourist attractions aren't new, either. But that's not the point. That the design and construction of Bilbao utilizes global engineering and technology is not the point either.

The point is simply that local climate and cultural vernacular are irrelevant to the design of Guggenheim Bilbao. As they are to Guggenheim Abu Dhabi and Gehry’s (thankfully) abandoned East River Guggenheim, further examples of architectural globalization not “dictated by local climate and cultural vernacular”. The culture they are dictated by is global, not local, and climate is irrelevant to their siting. The technology is also global, as are the materials used in fabrication, the financing of the construction, etc., etc.

Take away these global influences and anything that would have been built in these places would have been done very differently, if indeed anything would have been built at all.

vernacular adjective of, relating to, or characteristic of a period, place, or group; especially: of, relating to, or being the common building style of a period or place <vernacular architecture>

Mar 17, 13 3:44 pm  · 


Start with transportation technology.  Wherever humans have migrated, they've brought with them their ideas about building and meaning.

Mar 17, 13 3:52 pm  · 

communication.  that is, imho, the most profound thing technology has given us related to any industry including architecture.  software that can help design bilbao or technology can create new methods of transporting steel or it can make plastics, which are useful to see a design fabricated, but communication is what makes the world smaller.

Mar 18, 13 10:37 am  · 

Historically it was the expansion of military empires that globalized architecture. Just look at Roman ruins across Europe and their effect on architecture from the middle ages forward.

Mar 18, 13 2:16 pm  · 

Except for the ease of electronic communication systems, technology hasn't done much of anything to promote "globalizaton." Globalization is a strategy of political and economic hegemony, imposed by the victorious power(s) in World War II. In fact, technology has been following globalization, not the other way around.

Mar 18, 13 2:22 pm  · 

This question has been rehashed so many times.. You will undoubtedly get a better learning experience if you tell your professor how technology can drive regionalism. Of course to answer that, you have to answer the original question also.

Mar 18, 13 5:47 pm  · 

Building solutions dictated by local climate and cultural vernacular ended in the 1950's, that is why you can travel the world and pretty much everything looks the same. Perhaps the only place you see that today is in slums, where there is little advanced technology. 

Mar 18, 13 6:30 pm  · 

American Regionalism (critical regionalism) thrived throughout the 90's and into the 00's. The only reason it seems to be dying is that people want it to.

Mar 18, 13 7:33 pm  · 

American Regionalism Globalized

Mar 18, 13 7:55 pm  · 

American Regionalism Globalized

Mar 19, 13 3:38 pm  · 

no, that is globalism.

Sam Mockbee, Coleman Coker, Rural Studio, Urban Build, they are all about contextual and climatic specificity in a regional context. 

Mar 19, 13 4:50 pm  · 

The only reason it seems to be dying is that people want it to.

Don't underestimate corporate power.

Mar 19, 13 5:35 pm  · 

One could argue that were it not for technology you could not have an 'apple store' in china, america, australia, europe, south america that all look the same. This could not have happened with out being able to share information and specs to any place in the world. Typically these stores are done by one firm/ design team that can send the information where ever they need yet still done by the one team who has the expertise to do them to the exacting specs.

I think technology has helped companies take their brand internationally, architects and engineers work from anywhere in the world, and builders coordinate construction of elements from all across the globe. 

This is a deep well to study. Lots of implications of technology. One must make the distinction of architecture from being purely a designer to really tackle the issue.

Mar 19, 13 6:38 pm  · 
ka em

Miles, I partly agree with you. If we are talking about architecture in its conceptual sense, the Petronas Tower's design/parti is influenced by Islamic geometry. If you think that's merely because Islam is the main religion in Malaysia, you need to look into the broader context of how Islamic representation takes place in Malaysia (cue: see its administrative capital Putrajaya). This is the contemporary context of Malaysia especially in the more affluent regions. I said I partly agree with you because you're right that Petronas Tower is an abandonment of indigenous culture and its build is high tech, but it must also be said that context, particularly culturally, is an evolving thing and by this measure it is more or less contextual.

Mar 19, 13 6:49 pm  · 
chatter of clouds

perhaps it would be better to approach the question in two ways that meet in the middle

how has hard technology led to the globalization of an architecture/s

how has soft technology led to the globalization of an architecture/s

by hard, i mean what you possibly mean i.e. physical systems of construction, methods of transportation, methods of information dissemination...etc. "hardware of the imagination."

by soft, i mean what may possibly termed cultural values and proclivities that infiltrate a society from another; for instance, inculcating specific appetites for an individualistic consumption that redefines production -or  subctontracts it fully- within the society to accord with capitalist consumption. By way of this, new spatial requirements are necessitated and the likelihood of adopting non-native architectural types associated with the originating inculcative source ois highly increased. "software of the imagination."

the hard and the soft being flip sides of the same new currency entering the market.

Mar 20, 13 8:18 am  · 

Thank you very much for your comments, it was for a school project and my teacher helped me to get to where my title is today. I have just finished writing it and hopefully i can get my A-Level from it. It really means a lot for your help, you all helped me to find arguments from a hard question! :)

Mar 27, 13 12:24 pm  · 

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