This is no time for designers to try to outshine one another with glittery sculptural-building displays of unimaginable wealth, at any monetary and environmental cost. The real innovators are looking at the pure essence of architecture: creating structures that enhance our lives with a low-carbon footprint.
It's seen in the transitional cardboard cathedral in Christchurch, New Zealand, providing a spiritual focal point following the February 2011quake that destroyed the city's most revered piece of architecture. And it's just one example of Japanese architect Shigeru Ban's commitment to the craft. (Watch Ban's Ted Talk, at bottom.)
These times call for humane systems that are actually connected to the natural ecosystem, such as Ban's network of emergency shelters set up in a school gym after the devastating tsunami in eastern Japan in 2011.
More than natural in concept, the materials are tubes made of recycled, locally available material that are easily cycled back into the ecosystem.
It's architecture that can react fast to calamity, restore self-respect, contribute to a humanitarian effort through design.