How human connections will ultimately shape the future of real estate

Property ObserverNovember 29, 20160 min read


If we had a completely blank slate to work with, how would we design our buildings and cities? How different would they be from the environments we have created now?

That was the question posed by JLL and TEDxSydney earlier this year for their Urban Canvas research project, which surveyed more than 200 professionals from 19 industries and conducted full-day workshops to explore issues around workplaces, buildings and cities.

Participants were asked to imagine creating places for people to work, live and play within the construct of a completely fresh slate - the planet Mars in 2050, made habitable for humans. 

The concept of Mars was used to give people a blank canvas and understand what they would create if they didn’t have the limitations of the existing built environment.

The resultant whitepaper – ‘Is humanity the future architect: how human connections will ultimately shape the future of real estate’ - projects a vision of the future where buildings do more than function as places of work – they promote connections between people and nature, whilst enhancing our health and wellbeing.

“The results unanimously focused on human connections and a desire to be closer to nature,” says Richard Fennell, Australian Head of Property & Asset Management for JLL.

“It seems that amongst our condensed and densely populated skylines, the people living and working within them are craving more open spaces, more air, and more natural materials and environments.” 

Participants sought a lifestyle where home and work were more interconnected in a physical sense - promoting concepts such as community workplaces, co-working and flexible work locations - whilst craving to be less connected mentally and emotionally.

This is a response to the recognition that the modern workforce does not ‘switch off’ - workers no longer leave work behind when heading home, and this is acknowledged as negatively impacting mental health.

“Our basic needs and wants remain consistent with what they were 100 years ago,” Fennell says. “We saw five key themes emerge when asking the TEDxSydney Community to design their future, four of these themes focused on human needs.”

Those five key themes are:

  1. Human connections
  2. Health and wellness
  3. Nature and human sustainability
  4. Social consciousness
  5. Robotics and artificial intelligence

“Throughout our research, certain mega-trends also emerged that might shape how we interact with our urban environment, including robotics, quantum computing, driverless cars and co-working,” Fennell says. “But it will be a desire for authentic, deeper human interactions, health and wellbeing, and a closeness to nature that will continue to dominate the built environment.”

JLL’s Australian Head of Corporate Account Management, Rajiv Nagrath, says the research found that, despite technological advancements and the potential impacts of robotics and artificial intelligence, there was a desire for a future dependent on people, not machines.

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Property Observer

Urban Development
Building Design
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