The world is now completely connected – physically, digitally and with the energy sources to empower those connections.
You can see it in the image above, which highlights all the rail, road, gas, electricity, oil pipelines, flight paths, internet cables and shipping lanes around the globe.
As the world continues to grow more connected and mobile, with people able to work anywhere, anytime with anyone, then this begins to pose an enormous challenge to the value of the built environment.
Megacities to future cities
Megacities, cities with populations greater than 10 million, are often thought of as huge economic engines and integral parts of the future. However what matters now is not the largest population of the city, but the greatest number of skilled workers. Innovation and creation are key industries for prosperity.
As technology continues to advance, many of the working class and service class jobs will increasingly be replaced through digital disruption and technological redundancy. It is the creative class or “knowledge workers”, in other words those who use their brains rather than their hands to make a living, that will be key to the future. These workers are incredibly mobile – not tied down to anything – and move wherever they like, working from wherever they like.
Where will the population of the future choose to live?
This mobility is what will create large shifts for the cities of the future. If these workers can choose to live wherever they like (and work remotely, connected by technology to any other part of the globe), where will they choose to go?
The quality of destination becomes very important, and not just aesthetically, but socially and culturally as well. What type of people lives there? What type of facilities is nearby? What happens on a social level?
These are the questions that developers need to ask themselves when considering construction and enhancements to their cities. What type of lifestyle can residents have? Are there communities in place to allow social interaction? Is there anything authentic and unique to the identity of the area?
Built environments of the future
Concrete jungles that are being built all around the world have no great future because they continue to ignore the fundamentals of cities – they are for people.
If we want to attract and retain the best and brightest, then we should build communities for the people, that the creative class of the future wants to live in.
Open public spaces should be more frequent; we should ensure plenty of healthcare and education services; and not just one style of accommodation should be present, but multiple styles catering to singles, couples, families and aged care.
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