Trends come back in fashion. Flared jeans were a big thing in the '70s, had their time again in the '90s, and are probably due for a comeback again some time very soon. The idea that trends come back is a little more complicated, however, when it comes to urban development.
The principles guiding how we live are a little more significant than our jeans, but they are also continuously advancing while taking from the past. This is the good thing about the past; we can take the good from it while leaving behind what didn’t work. And when it comes to the future of how we build homes in our urban centres, we are responding to the changing needs of a dramatically changed society. However, there are some points from the past that might work for us.
How the future looks
In general, people are marrying later, starting families later, and renting homes for much later in life too. This is very different from how we lived in the past, when marrying and having children young was the norm, and hitting adulthood meant the race to buy your own home had begun.
What this means for the homes of our future is that people want both mobility and flexibility. Not just within the same city, but also on a global scale too. They want to be able to move seamlessly, around the world, or at least to have that option. So this means more flexible rental agreements, rental periods ranging from a few months to a few years, and housing services that deliver the same quality apartments and level of service across cities and countries.
So this is very different not only from how we lived 100 years ago, but even ten years ago too.
Did the past do it better?
How we live in the future is influenced by what we used to do better before. Our current cities are hugely segregated according to area, and how that area is used. Generally speaking, there are clear residential areas, clear commercial and business areas, and clear leisure areas. Cities by their very nature are compact and dense, and these areas run into each other often. For example, it’s not as if commercial areas don’t have parks.
But for the most part urban residents live in one part of the city, travel to another part to work, and then to another to make the most of their down time. Services are not integrated nor particularly accessible when moving between them. Communities are fragmented and not easy to connect to, making them inaccessible to many.
Community living as the norm
This is not how it used to be. Pre-industrial revolution, so pre mid-19th century, community living defined housing for almost everyone. This obviously looked different from place to place, and this was a time when the concept of cities themselves was first developing - and there was much that was bad about life both before and immediately after the start of the first industrial revolution. Cities were not necessarily great places to live back then, where severe overcrowding, pandemics and crime were rife.
But years ago, there was a time when we prioritized community. This was through community spaces, be it a religious space or hall, where people came together to learn, celebrate and interact. For many, this community space was the heart and soul of a community, and the centre for all its social activities. It was also their ticket to an education and a better life.
Our social needs are a little more sophisticated today than they were two hundred years ago. But bringing community spaces back into the centre of where we live should be a priority when it comes to building homes for the future. When community spaces are integrated into our homes and residential areas, they are accessible for everyone, and they can serve a large community and from that a larger purpose too.
Working from home again
There is another lesson we can learn from how we lived in the past. Integrating community and leisure spaces is one, but bringing where we work into that is also important. Many of us are working from home again and prefer it.
It’s not such a large leap to call for work spaces where we live - either through home offices (not just our laptops perched on our beds) but co-working spaces too. We are all happier, and as the studies show, more productive, when we eliminate our daily commutes.
So what do our homes of the future look like?
The watchword here is mixed-use developments. It is not a word our 19th century peers would be familiar with, but the style of living where housing, community and work are all rolled into one is one they could relate to. Society changes, but the need for connection and for community is a constant. Remembering that as we build how we live in the future is critical.
At Vonder, we believe in the future, but we can also recognise that there were times when we did community better in the past. We want to bring that back. Bringing back community has been a part of our mission from day one and our all inclusive living and working spaces reflect that. Come and see for yourself what a community can do for your future by looking into all-in-one living in London, Berlin, Dubai, and Warsaw.