Neo-Futurist Architecture - Explained

Neo-Futurist Architecture - Explained

By Mateos Glen Hayes January 18, 2022

One of the newest architectural styles out there, neo-futurism is an avant-garde design style that espouses an aesthetic based around extreme minimalism, curvy forms, and high-tech building solutions. This complete package is all brought together in a marriage of glass, concrete, and steel.

Some of the world’s most famous neo-futurist buildings such as Dubai’s Burj Khalifa - the tallest building on earth - are examples of this very distinctive style. Because of their heavy reliance on fluid forms, neo-futurist buildings in the world stand out due to their unconventional and divisive design.

Nevertheless, this fairly young architectural trend continues to play a definitive role in shaping the skylines of major cities the world over and is even beginning to make its way into many homes. Because neo-futurist design attempts to emulate those shapes and forms found in nature, it is quite visually appealing to many.  

A Brief But Bright History

Art Deco Style Buildings Were a Popular Offshoot of Futurism

Art Deco Style Buildings Were a Popular Offshoot of Futurism

Neo-futurism emerged in the late twentieth century as a response to futurism, which in turn was born in the early twentieth century in Italy. The futurist architecture was designed to reflect the rise of mechanization and was meant to communicate a utopian vision through strict symmetry, industrial building methods, and modernist motifs. One of the most notable aesthetics in futurist architecture was art deco, which came to dominate the skyline of many American cities.    

Bye Futurism, Hello Neo

However, futurist architecture became somewhat less concrete as a concept post-WWII due to major cultural changes and the rise of the Space, Jet, and Atomic ages. By the 1960s futurist architecture was increasingly emulating these trends, and especially echoed the iconic jet plane styling of cars in an increasingly car-centric America.

As futurism declined from its pre-war apex, neo-futurism began to emerge in the designs of pioneering architects such as Buckminster Fuller and Finnish architect Eero Saarinen. It was defined specifically as a departure from futurism and neo-modernism. However, neo-Futurist architecture was mostly confined to expressionist buildings, meaning small structures designed to reflect the emotions of the architect.     

21st Century Boom

Neo-Futurism Rejected the Rigid Symmetry of Futurism and Embraced More Fluid Designs Instead This (photo was taken by Böhringer Friedrich)

Neo-Futurism Rejected the Rigid Symmetry of Futurism and Embraced More Fluid Designs Instead This (photo was taken by Böhringer Friedrich)

The foundational aspects of the design were put in wording in the early aughts with the release of several manifestos. These documents emphasized the importance of coupling the neo-futurist aesthetic with sustainable development. In other words, neo-futurist designs would reflect the natural world, incorporate eco-friendly designs, and bring art into architecture.

They also defined neo-futurism as integrating high-tech solutions intended to “inspire optimism for the power of technology in uniting the imagination of humanity”. However, even with these manifestos, the neo-futurist style has remained somewhat vague in terms of its rules, and this is by design. Because it is an abstract design style it has no rigid rules like modernism, hence it’s a more free-flowing nature.   

Futuristic Architecture Examples

Several of the most famous structures in the 21st century have been built in the neo-futurist style and designed by some big names such as Zaha Hadid and Santiago Calatrava. Famous examples of the design style include the new Apple Park in Cupertino, the new World Trade Center Hub in New York City, and the Shard skyscraper in London.

You’ll know a neo-futurist building when you see it because they are basically impossible to miss. In a world where our cityscapes can be overstuffed with dreary rectangular towers of bare concrete, a neo-futurist building sticks out like a sore thumb and is a welcome example of something new and ambitious.  

Defining Qualities

Futuristic Sustainable Architecture Has Become More Popular in the 21st-Century

Futuristic Sustainable Architecture Has Become More Popular in the 21st-Century

If you’re having trouble telling apart your neo-futurist buildings and post-modernist stuff, here is a rough guide. 

Ethical Design

In terms of architecture, neo-futurism in the 21st century has come to be defined by ethical design. This means using architecture to be in touch with human emotions such as hope, but also making buildings environmentally sustainable. Achieving this means using high-tech designs that make the building operate more efficiently and minimize the stress the structure puts on the environment.

For example, futuristic sustainable architecture can be designed to encourage mass-transit use and discourage car use and can be designed with facilities that enable recycling and mitigate noise creation. It can also mean using materials that can be easily recycled once the building has reached the end of its lifespan.

Neo-futurist buildings can also be made to minimize water waste, maximize energy efficiency, and integrate ergonomic “human-friendly” designs. 

High-Tech Stuff 

Cool Tech Allows Neo-Futurist Buildings to Include Many Amazing Features

Cool Tech Allows Neo-Futurist Buildings to Include Many Amazing Features

Speaking of high-tech stuff, a lot of technologically advanced equipment is used both to build neo-futurist buildings and to run them. This is another defining aspect of this style, where large technical challenges are overcome with technological innovations. The crown jewel when it comes to this kind of ingenuity is the Burj Khalifa.

The world’s tallest skyscraper is equipped with an automated window washing system that is completely autonomous, keeping the upper windows of the structure free of dust. The 2,716-foot structure is also equipped with an advanced condensation system that reclaims moisture from Dubai’s humid climate and uses it for irrigation. Its high-speed elevators are capable of traveling from bottom to top in just 60 seconds and generating electricity through their operation.

All of the gadgets and systems that keep the tower running smoothly are controlled from one unified computer system which allows for every aspect of the building to be monitored round the clock. Every single detail including wind speeds, climate control, and even seismic activity can be constantly monitored from one system, making the Burj Khalifa a structure that’s as neo-futurist as it is gigantic.   

3D Form

The other thing virtually all neo-futurist buildings have in common is that they are primarily designed using 3D computer software. This allows for some very unique and fluid shapes that would have been difficult or impossible to draw without the aid of a computer program. This allows for some very distinctive designs that can integrate various cultural and natural motives into one cohesive design.

Zaha Hadid’s futuristic architecture is a good example of this, combining tree-like natural structures and fragmented geometry that makes for asymmetric designs that stand out.

How to Bring Neo-Futurist Architecture Into Your Home

When it comes to home design, Neo-futurism is a pretty involving design style because it encompasses every aspect of both the interior and exterior of your home. Absent building a home from the ground up in this style, you can’t really convert your home’s exterior to a neo-futurist design. However, you can bring some neo-futurist elements into the interior design of your home.   


Fluid Shapes Make For More Ergonomic Furniture

Fluid Shapes Make For More Ergonomic Furniture

In recent years there has been an increase in neo-futurist style furniture. Neo-futurist beds, seating, tables, and other furniture pieces emulate the fluid lines of neo-futurist. If you want to reimagine the everyday furniture that is in your house, this is one great way to spice things up.

For example, neo-futurist seating can replicate asymmetric shapes found in nature, allowing for very ergonomic designs that are more comfortable and space-efficient than conventional designs. 

Kitchen Fixtures 

A Kitchen With Neo-Futurist Curves Will Set Your Home Apart

A Kitchen With Neo-Futurist Curves Will Set Your Home Apart

Neo-futurist shapes are also finding their way into kitchen fixture designs, giving you some cool new options when it’s time for your next kitchen remodel. Instead of settling for a classic Victorian-style kitchen with rigid lines and brass cabinet handles, consider giving your kitchen a neo-futurist makeover. Neo-futurist worktops aren’t the best at saving space but they can really add some individuality to your kitchen with unique curves in unexpected places. 


Asymmetric Led Lighting Is Both Functional and Beautiful

Asymmetric Led Lighting Is Both Functional and Beautiful

Lighting offers an easy place to inject some neo-futurist flair. Easy, because changing your lighting is generally simpler than renovating an entire room. Instead of making do with generic chandeliers, consider refitting your ceiling with some LED lighting lines. These can be designed to form interesting geometric shapes or to conform to the outer line of your ceiling for a unique neo-futurist effect.


Written by
Mateos Glen Hayes

Written by Mateos Glen Hayes