So, I’ve been to Ireland. I’ve driven around the country. One point of difference from the U.S. and Ireland (and I think the rest of the Old World, but I am guessing) is how it seems buildings are never really torn down or moved in Ireland and new buildings are built to fit in with the surrounding areas. In the U.S., we tend to go through buildings quickly, tearing them down and re-purposing land. So we haven’t really seen much construction like Egan’s Coffee Bar and Roof Terrace (which really has a great story, please take the time to read the link).
What I think is really exciting about such construction is that it forces us to break the box way of thinking. You simply can’t have a box when the space is not built for one. Breaking the box design will allow for a lot more exciting and memorable constructions, where they essentially have a forced personality and individuality of space.
I think in the U.S. in the next few decades we’ll begin to see a lot more architecture like this due to rising urban densities and rising costs of construction, forcing designers into more ingenious solutions. Further forces may be long-tail inspired where big-box stores will begin to give way to more specialized stores as shoppers are already accustomed to finding non one-size-fits-all solutions, creating the need for an army of smaller storefronts, where big box stores already find trouble with zoning and finding building space.
Further into the center of a city, these more interesting design solutions could be seen filling more interesting places. There is only so much ground-floor space in downtown high-rises, causing perhaps slightly temporary buildings or storefronts to spring up, taking advantage of the courtyards and malls that these monoliths are surrounded by. Perhaps even going so far as setting up semi-perminent markets in these underused spaces.
What all of this really boils down to is that we might be on the edge of a new expansiveness in architectural design where instead of creativity being allowed by a few generous patrons, inspiration will be forced into new work to solve solutions in previously unacceptable locations. Perhaps this is where the long shadow of the Modernist Cube will come to an end?