‘2018 will see a focus on black water’; Ar. Sean Williams

‘2018 will see a focus on black water’; Ar. Sean Williams

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2018 Predictions through a Sustainable Architects lens; Ar, Sean Williams, Principal, Owner, Architect; OT9 design

Ar. Sean Williams, Principal, Owner, Architect OT9 design

Ar. Sean Williams, Principal, Owner, Architect OT9 design
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Ar. Sean Williams, Principal, Owner, Architect OT9 design
photographs: Ar. Sean Williams

When the editors at sawdust asked me to make my predictions for year 2018, I wasn’t sure I could meet their expectations with the crazy year that we have all been experiencing. Not being one to walk away from a challenge nor miss an opportunity to peer through a lens of the future for a hopeful future. As an architect focused on Biomimicry, my predictions look towards a sustainable curve of the lens and maybe a slight tech slant. Without further ado, here are my predictions for a sustainable future.

Ai and AEC

The AEC (architecture, engineering and construction) industry has been dragging on the advancement of technology and innovation like an orphaned infant monkey clutching a stuffed animal for security. In 2018, the industry will see the advancement of construction data birth, the new consciousness of intelligence and automation. The elements driving this are a few fold – lack of labor, cheaper robotics and the continued evolution of the virtual reality platforms. Construction, worldwide, accounts for a significant percentage of world GDP and can no longer lag behind the other industries that have embraced the latest technologies. AI, albeit in its infancy now, will start to show AEC how efficient we can make materials, get closer to the retail model of tracking materials, and help determine things like lowest embodied energy. BIM, or Building Information Modelling will require better modelling criteria and a singular platform to help propel this prediction into the 21st century of Ai. AI will begin to emerge in the AEC industry in a big way for 2018.

Evolution of sustainability

The advancements in AI and the dark data pools in the AEC will begin to make it possible to have a higher sustainable solution. Models of natural systems and the emergence of smart materials will produce higher performing materials that can be tracked and monitored from cradle to gate and beyond to a circular economy. As block chain becomes better understood, the industry should see new disruptive companies that will promote a transparency, new value in materials, the beginnings of the next circular economy and an opportunity to really focus on the existing buildings we have not made more sustainable yet. The evolution of suitability will be the organisation and documentation of the natural process, which will need to be an interdisciplinary approach with the AEC industry and life-sciences. I suspect there will be more college courses on Biomimicry or bio-think, which will have evolved from design-think models. Sustainability will evolve to more biological models in 2018.

Water is the new black

I think we can all agree that water is a precious commodity that everyone needs and should have clean, equal access to. In 2018, there will be plenty of issues to swim into and pull the plug on. The crisis of clean water will be more prevalent than in the recent years past, one need to only look at last years’ weather patterns to see the devastation countries will continue to face with the warming of the atmosphere. These disasters not only destroyed infrastructure and buildings, they took out levies, contaminated waterways, cut off municipal water supply. In the city of Atlanta, we had to boil our water this summer after storms damaged some equipment. In Puerto Rico, they are still trying to get power and water back on and in many places around the world they didn’t get enough water at all. Ok, now for the good news, the next year will bring about new companies, organisations and inventors that will find solutions to all of the various types of water we have. Currently, we have equipment to filter grey water to make it viable for dual uses – shower to toilet comes to mind, but this year will see a focus on black water.

Black water is that water that we can’t typically reuse for health reasons, but using “blue” water or potable water for the black water shouldn’t be a trend we want to continue to promote. Water is the new black suggest that this will be a great design opportunity for planners, designer, architects, builders, municipalities, etc. Water will become a design trend in 2018.


In conclusion, the stock markets will rise and fall, the predictions of 2017 stated the US market wouldn’t get past 22,000; as of this writing it was over 24,000 and dipping a little, take that for what it is. The world is a complex, interconnected being that can’t be completely understood and predicted but I took a stab at it anyway based on current trends and past experiences, so have a little fun and let’s see what happens. You can send me a note on Twitter @ot9design or find me on LinkedIn to let me know your thoughts and my hopeful successes. Here’s to a prosperous and sustainable year for you and yours.