1. GROUNDBREAKING ARCHITECTURE In dense cities, where space is at a premium, vertical living is the next frontier. But instead of going up, the world’s most innovative architects are building underground. Mexican firm Productora built a modern home partially beneath the mountain’s slope to accommodate changing temperatures between day and night (they vary by as much as 20 degrees). The house features massive windows that open to patios and rooftop decks, maximizing natural lighting, ventilation, and incredible views from every room.
2. UNDERWATER CITIES Life under the sea is the wave of the future, according to one Japanese company. Shimizu Corporation recently released plans to build an underwater eco-city by 2030. Known as “Ocean Spiral,” the city includes three parts: a top sphere floating just below the water’s surface, a research center and energy factory built into the seabed, and a 15-kilometer-long spiral connecting the two. Inside the spiral itself: work spaces, apartments, and hotel rooms for 5,000 people.
3. PRINT YOUR OWN FURNITURE Three dimensional printing comes home with Print the Future, a Vancouver-based start-up that allows consumers to design their own furniture and watch it materialize before their eyes (jobs are completed within 24 hours). Plus, the furniture is 100 percent recyclable and reasonably priced ($500–$1,500). Print the Future is currently looking for investors to expand its pop-up shops around the world.
4. FLEXIBLE SPACES The future is on the move—literally. Joseph Wheeler, codirector of Virginia Tech’s Center for Design Research, developed Future-HAUS, a prototype of the future home, sponsored by California Closets. The home features prefinished, pre-wired and pre-plumbed room “cartridges” that activate movable walls so homeowners can reconfigure their spaces—a closet expands to fit a laundry room or contracts for extra bedroom space—and high-tech electronics, such as a smart mirror touchscreen to locate a specific dress. “The concepts modeled in Future-HAUS can be used to build homes that intuitively respond to the needs of everyone,” says Wheeler, “allowing people to live more sustainably.”
5. GROW YOUR OWN DINNER The more we learn about nutrition, the more control we’ll want over our own food. Closed-loop hydroponic and aquaponic systems will allow us to not only grow our own produce, but raise fresh fish and shellfish from the comfort of our kitchens. As detailed in Samsung’s SmartThings Future Living Report, these systems will capture rainwater to feed plants, purify the air, and insulate our homes. And software and sensors will let us operate and analyze the whole thing from our phones.
6. FLOATING UFO-SHAPED HOMES An Italian yacht maker has dreamed up a saucer-shaped floating home that would allow people to slowly make their way around the world. In his concept, solar panels run the motor, and a water generator converts rain or seawater to fresh drinking water and tends the on-deck vegetable garden. A special elastic anchor system keeps the structure stable in rough seas, while flexible floor plans let residents configure rooms however it floats their boat.