5 Top TED Talks on How Architecture can Transform the World

Climate change, housing shortages and flooding are all significant issues that continue to impact major cities around the world. Politicians like to think that they are the only ones trying to come up with solutions, but architects are on the frontline providing innovative solutions to make positive changes in the world. A growing number of city leaders are discovering that architecture can be used in ways other than designing buildings. Architecture can also be leveraged as a tool for progress as cities look for different answers to solve problems that they’ve never experienced before. TED Talks are effective resources for spreading inspiration around the industry. Here are five top TED Talks on how architecture can transform the world.


1. How Prefab Homes Can Transform Affordable Housing

Anton Garcia-Abril discusses why he thinks prefab homes could be the present and future of architecture. His team is hoping to solve affordable housing problems around the world by incorporating civil engineering parts to create homes in a box that can be transported more easily. So, he recruited a team of young architects to prove that affordable prefab homes can even be shipped internationally if the right materials are used. The team used building technologies to create affordable, light steel walls that were transported from Madrid in shipping containers and assembled in Boston on a budget-friendly property. Anton Garcia-Abril is a European Ph.D. architect and founder of the Ensamble Studio.


2. 4 Ways to Make a City More Walkable

American city planner Jeff Speck explains why we need more walkable cities and how architecture can be used to accomplish this. Public health professionals summed up the problem that many cities are experiencing by saying that we drive to the parking lot to ride an escalator to walk on the treadmill. Speck claims that if cities want to get more of their residents to walk, then they need to offer them safe, comfortable, and interesting walking areas. Speck’s walkability studies have discovered that there is often a fundamental disconnect in many cities between the number street lanes and the number of cars that need to use them that results in too many oversized streets that lead to nowhere.


3. Buildings That Blend Nature and City

Jeanne Gang, the founding partner of Studio Gang, presents an engaging tour of her most iconic projects that focus on incorporating nature into traditional urban cityscapes. Her portfolio includes the Solar Carve in New York City, the Writers Theater in Glencoe, IL, and the Arkansas Arts Center in Little Rock, AR. A key takeaway from her talk is that as architects you have the power to do so much more than create buildings. You can also help to promote a well-balanced planet through your work.


4. How to Design a Library That Makes Kids Want to Read

Designer Micheal Bierut recaps how he helped New York school libraries break the stereotype of being boring, musty old rooms. He created the L!brary Initiative that combined energy, learning, art and graphics and transformed libraries into exciting, modern spaces where kids want to read.


5. Can We Design Cities for Happiness?

Known as the “urban happiness planner,” Thomas Madrecki wants to ensure that happiness is a priority when future neighborhoods are being planned. Since human well-being is directly connected to social connectivity, city planners need public participation to collect diverse ideas so that they can improve quality of life.

TED Talks are excellent resources for inspiration in architecture and design. They feature some of the most passionate professionals from around the industry who provide thought-provoking presentations that can help you to achieve your goals as an architect.


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