Our living evolution – part 4.


James Ford

Physical evolution: Relevant in times of revolution.

Change is non-linear and so is human development.

In Part 3 of Our living evolution series, we looked at how to connect people with nature, celebrating natural diversity and championing the circular economy. Here we look at how the physical aspects of the built environment might evolve.

Beyond net zero

Transparency and accountability against these targets will become the day-to-day of society’s whole-life net zero carbon future. By embracing innovation to reduce energy consumption, using energy intelligently, and sourcing as well as generating renewable energy, developments will have adaptable climate-positive energy strategies that provide benefits outside of their remit. From intelligent energy-demand management through live data, to energy generating building facades, buildings will be the solution rather than the problem.

Access, connectivity and multi-modal mobility

Pedestrian priority and super connected places will be a defining character of the future of placemaking. Transcending its physical boundaries, sites will leverage their ability link together practical places and desirable destinations. Multi-modal, people-centric mobility will underpin the promotion of healthy active lifestyles and foster the creation of diverse communities. A development will stitch into the local area, linking public transport nodes whilst leveraging network connectivity to influence wider net zero carbon ambitions for surrounding areas.

Digitally enhanced lifestyle 

Bringing intelligence to the operations of the energy and mobility infrastructure, and enabling connectivity at a personal, local and global level will fundamental to masterplans. It will involve meeting the expectations of early adopters (of technology we cannot even begin to image yet) who will always be at the forefront of the hype cycle whilst enabling ubiquitous empowerment for all. The democratised evolution of digital transformation will be supported through our places of work, rest and play, and ultimately enhance our everyday lives.

We often grow through epiphany or eureka moments that challenge our received wisdom, mimicking the ‘development leaps’ we make when we’re children. The success of places will hinge on our ability to enable visions of the future to become reality.