The lessons of today and a look to the future
The World we live in is changing at a rate that is faster than ever and with it the nature of participation with each other and our places and spaces. We are seeing a generational lifestyle shift as younger people pursue experiences over material goods, with a strong focus on community. Flexibility and the rise of the ‘gig’ economy is transforming historic conceptions of work and the workplace. Digitalisation has revolutionised the way we learn. More than ever, learning is lifelong, on the street and in the palm of our hand.
Along with these changes to the way we are living, working and learning comes a change to the socio-economic dynamic. The middle class is expanding rapidly, led by China, but with significant contributions from India, the rest of Asia, Latin America and even the United States. Along with this the generation of Erasmus of students moving internationally it is creating and world of spikey cities contributing to the global housing crisis where demand constantly outstrips supply and affordability of purchasing is continuing to diminish.
Add to this the societal conundrum that while we have greater technological and transport connectivity than ever, we are sadly less connected at a human, heart-centred level. This has led to significant increases in feelings of loneliness and isolation across the general population with the consequence of rapidly rising rates of mental health related issues.
All of this calls for a change in the way we live and the effect on our built environment is already underway in many cities and communities, albeit on a relatively modest scale at this point in time. But where it is happening, one key impact is that the pathways to providing spaces and places for living, working and learning is no longer linear but has taken on “jenga” style. This has significantly influenced the “co-revolution” we are now experiencing with initially the sharing of living and work spaces, but more and more with mixed use that incorporates both of those with learning, shopping and socialising.
There are many great examples all over the globe of the positive impact of this new style of living, these five below will serve to give you a flavour and some inspiration for what is possible:
The Red Vic, San Francisco
A community-run non-profit collective, aka co-living hotel. Offering neighbourhood memberships to locals, and daytime “living room” memberships for non-residents to work in the space.
Guerrilla Neighbours, Malmö
A crowd-sourced living room aiming to break down walls between communities and power, harking back hundreds of years to a time when squares, piazzas and market places fostered community and nurtured civic debate.
Ōtākaro Orchard, Christchurch
A food forest, a free edible garden, living classroom, outdoor amphitheatre, and garden venue in the heart of the city.
Manifattura Tabacchi, Florence
Transforming an abandoned tobacco factory into a cultural and creative hub of activity, complete with living spaces and hotels. Regeneration catalyst is Polimoda’s new educational playground.
VENN City, Tel Aviv/Brooklyn/Berlin
A New Way of neighbouring. Venn is creating a neighbourhood-wide network through homes and shared spaces.
We believe that the success of all of these and many more like them emphasise that we need to understand, consider and act upon the needs and wants of our participants as a priority. We also believe that this “Co” way of living is not just an asset class for a certain demographic, rather it provides solutions to a number of significant societal challenges, and allows participants, at all levels, to benefit financially, societally and personally.
In our view, we are now at a pivotal point in the evolution of living where the convenience and technology-led demands of modern society must come together with the ever-present need for community and interconnection. To start this journey, we will leave you with four key take-aways for success:
- Reformulate to see and offer residential as a service
- Make community central to all we do
- ‘Jenga’ style building is the way forward
- Multi-generational living is our back-to-the-future
Written by David Stevens – Co-owner, Conductor with ideas and inspiration from Jorick Beijer
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