Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Social Lives in a Built Environment

In an ever altering environment, the need to anticipate social change is crucial to ensuring that the infrastructure that supports individuals as well as communities is in place.  Reading the research material recently published through Adam Urbanism was a reminder how tough the relationship can be between designers, architects, developers, planners and government in creating a positive built environment.

"Tomorrow's Home" ( Lily Bernheimer- Space Works Consultancy and ADAM Urbanism) is a timely reminder about the need to understand and act upon social lives in anticipating and creating flexible and happy work/ home environments. The research predominately looked at the socio-economic changes affecting the Millenials- young adults born towards the end of the last century, effectively an 18-34 age group.

The study looked at the differences between the aspirations of this generation and the previous one.  Where home ownership was feasible based on average incomes, it would seem that this generation will continue to see rental as the only way forward with mortgages and housing stock unavailable.

Workers still migrate towards urban areas with greater employment options, however there is also a greater element of self employed working from home.

There is always the issue of multitasking work and home space.  It appears new housing stock still needs to take into consideration the need for larger living spaces.

While agricultural farms were isolated in many respects, those same families enjoyed social interaction with other farms.

Today individuals, working alone, share their lives with online support , some  via social network groups prompting real interactions.

The creation and development of outside spaces is important. Parks, gardens, areas to gather and chat. The "KIOSK" idea from AJ and various at Bologna Water Design being actually a very good idea.

Great humanitarians and industrialists Robert Owen, the Cadbury family and Lord Lever all created great "towns" for their workers with enhanced living conditions, compared to local housing, in New Lanark, Bournville and Port Sunlight respectively. They considered the needs of their workers first, then realised the environment. Truly front runners of town planning in a built industrial environment.

Now too often town planners meet the requirements of a political party, developers are greedy about maximising units of land in often inappropriate sites ( flood plains eg) , architects are concerned with price they can achieve per square metre to satisfy clients - often compromising the finish to suit the budget - and interior designers are brought in to make impossible spaces work for the inhabitants.

It is time for policy and decision makers to take heed of such information as contained in the Tomorrow's Home report, and properly plan and implement living conditions that will enhance lives and be flexible to support near future generations.

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