I joined a panel of industry experts as we analysed the findings of a survey of 1,000 25-40-year-olds on their views on the future of homes and debated whether enough is being done by the construction sector to meet the needs of the next generation of homebuyers and occupiers.
One of the key topics discussed at the round table was what the homes of the future might look like, based on current and projected trends. Almost half of survey respondents said that adaptability would make a property more appealing to them. We discussed that this need for flexible and adaptable living spaces is likely to affect the design of homes in the future and that clever utilisation of space will be a continuing requirement, particularly in cities where space is often at a premium. Constrained conditions will require us to continually challenge the plan. This could allow for more transience within rooms, through features such as moveable partitions; extending living spaces until spare bedrooms are required for example.
One of the other key themes discussed was the potential for DfMA and modular building to play a key role in the future of housing. Manufacturing homes in factories and assembling a kit of parts on-site offers many benefits, including improved speed of production and assembly, consistency of quality and reduced carbon footprint. Modular building has advanced from the ‘pre-fabs’ of post-war Britain in the 1950s and 60s. With factors such as Government backing, greater public awareness and greater affordability, DfMA and modular housing could allow housebuilders to build in larger numbers and more effectively and sustainably in the future
Another potential factor affecting the future of homes is the impact of societal shifts towards experiences and increased demands for amenities and facilities. The current trend for developments to provide non-residential uses and services for tenants, such as gyms, bars, concierge, screening rooms and flexible work spaces; which is most visible in the PRS market, is likely to evolve further and also see crossover with markets; taking influence from the flexible workspace market with a multiple site subscription for example.
We also discussed that technological advancements are likely to give greater freedom to the design process. In some ways what was previously envisaged as the technological house of the 21st Century is actually the polar opposite, through wireless technologies and the internet of things; allowing the architecture to focus on the fundamentals.
Importantly, as society becomes increasingly aware of its environmental impact, sustainability will continue to influence design approach. As a result, it will become increasingly necessary that architects produce ecologically aware designs using suitably specified materials; whilst also considering the economic and societal factors that drive forward the development of our towns, cities and homes
The panel agreed that the biggest drivers for innovation will likely come from the extremes of the market: first time buyers and downsizers. There are numerous examples of developers looking to stand out in the market and it is those developers and the demands of their customers that will drive these ideas forward.
You can read more on this topic by downloading Eurocell’s future of homes whitepaper here: https://www.eurocell.co.uk/whitepaper