One Contemporary Artist You Should Know — Norman Foster
Nur Amira D/O Jahir Hussain
What is contemporary art? It is the art produced from the late 20th century to the early 21st century. Contemporary arts are globally influential, culturally diverse, and technologically advanced. Contemporary art is part of a cultural dialogue that concerns larger contextual frameworks such as personal and cultural identity. On the contrary, contemporary architecture describes today’s building styles using new techniques and the latest building materials. The trend boasts a wide array of influences that are quite diverse, borrowing bits and pieces from a variety of styles and eras.
Subsequently, how then has contemporary art influenced 21st-century architecture trends? It addresses the world’s major problems and solutions for the world to progress. For instance, firstly, sustainable architecture has grown immersively over the years. It advocates for materials and the conservation of energy that will reduce the impact of buildings on the environment. Secondly, with increasing technology, smart homes and high-tech architecture are becoming more popular. According to MediaPost, as of 2019, 69% of households in the U.S., have at least one smart home device. Lastly, public spaces in architecture are in demand in this century as they play a vital role in bringing people together.
One contemporary artist you should know is Norman Foster. A Pritzker Architectural (1999) award-winning British architect and designer, who is known for his sustainable, modern, and high-tech designs. His architecture is a combination of integration of societal values, flexibility for future uses, and adaptive reuse. He owns his architectural practice called Foster + Partners. He is the President of the Norman Foster Foundation, created to promote interdisciplinary thinking and research to help new architects and designers anticipate the future. His firm, Foster + Partners, creates progressive works of high-tech architecture incorporating sustainable design.
Norman Foster started creating sustainable architectures back in 1971. He was inspired by Buckminster Fuller, an American architect, to start creating ecological, sustainable, pollution-free, and energy-conserving architecture. For example, Foster designed the Apple Park in Cupertino, California. The project converted a sea of asphalt into a 175-acre campus powered by 100% renewable energy with most of the power for the facilities coming from an on-site low-carbon central plant. Foster is currently working with The United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) to create a regional action plan for 2030 to create sustainable urban housing.
Foster is also known as the Figurehead of high-tech architecture. With technology growing rapidly over the years, it is no surprise that high-tech architecture is becoming more popular today. High-tech architecture focuses on creating adaptable buildings through the choice of materials, internal structural elements, and programmatic design. For instance, The 30 St Mary Axe (The Gherkin) is a high-tech office building with an energy-efficient design that allows the building to use only half the power. The building has a circular floor plan with gaps in between each floor to promote natural ventilation.
“As an architect you design for the present, with an awareness of the past, for a future which is essentially unknown”- Norman Foster.
Norman Foster is a firm believer in public spaces being an integral part of architecture. Foster uses glass in his architecture to represent being able to see clearly in a democratic society. For example, The Metropolitan Building in Poland by Foster, on weekdays, is used by its employees as a place to relax during their work hours. On the weekends, it transforms into a gathering place for the public. He calls this, socially responsive architecture.
All in all, contemporary art has influenced 21st-century design and architecture trends to create designs that address 20th-century challenges. Norman Foster has inspired me to think about high-tech and sustainable architecture. I like his clean designs, the thoroughness of his work, and his attention to detail. He has been a great influence in creating high-tech sustainable architecture to address contextual issues like global warming and technology.