PROSPECT: HOW THE HOUSING INDUSTRY WILL CHANGE IN THE NEXT DECADE

Published 2019-12-19

The housing industry is facing significant challenges, but also many exciting opportunities. These are the trends Semrén & Månsson's housing studio - with input from several clients - predict will have the greatest effect on our day to day lives. 

Digitalisation to boom in the living environment
We are moving towards an increasingly digitalised world, and our residents is not an exception. Things that are novelties today, such as refrigerators that inform us that we're running out of milk, will soon come as natural as the practice of checking the bus timetable in your phone. In the future, residential properties will be more integrated into a delivery service. There is an ongoing revolution in everyday services with an increase in domestic services, domestic logistics, and new consumer services in and around the house, which also influences the design of the buildings we create. 

In the digital neighbourhood, we can network, meet our neighbours, and simplify our day to day lives through apps that show us what's available to lend or rent in our proximity. Meanwhile, technological units around us are constantly collecting data about us and our behaviour. 

- This data can help architects in creating even more accurate residential solutions for different target groups. We are simply moving from relying on a guess or hunch, to actually knowing something with certainty, says Camilla Järned, architect and studio manager at Semrén & Månsson in Stockholm.

Full service or rough concepts - are we moving towards two extremes?
The concept of a sharing economy through co-living, co-owning rarely used products, bicycle and carpools, is here to stay. But instead of limiting it to a few selected areas, we are moving towards an all-inclusive trend, where all kinds of service are available to access from your home. We are opening up to sharing social and functional spaces with others. In return, we're getting access to everything from cleaning services to grocery deliveries, janitorial services, and gym facilities, and those wishing to do so could even move into a fully furnished apartment.  

This trend demonstrates how human interaction, collaboration and creative thinking are growing in importance in order to create value and drive the development forward. Add new family constellations to the mix, and we're facing new demands on how we design the residential environments of the future. It is, for instance, increasingly common with flexible buildings and room solutions that are easily adapted to the changing needs of its residents. 

- Perhaps there will be more of a rough concept, where you construct a shell to be filled by those who move in. In that case, the property can be rebuilt as the living conditions change, but just as well be repurposed for offices, hotel, school facilities, or something completely different, says Elin Johansson, studio manager at Semrén & Månsson in Göteborg.

The role of the architect is also changing
As new methods of financing and tenure appear, the architects are going to meet a new type of customer. An example of that could be a "building society", a phenomenon that is already popular in other European countries, where an association of individuals get together to have a building planned out, and constructed for them to use. 

- When the client is a group of inexperienced individuals, our role as reliable advisors is absolutely essential. We need to possess extensive expertise to maintain the project as a whole - something in which we have experienced at Semrén & Månsson through our projects building on our own account, says Camilla Järned. 

The architect getting a more coordinating role is also a logical step in the rapidly moving technological development. When robots build and assemble, and several consultants are working on the same digital model, there is a need for someone to overlook the process and act as a link between the different parties.

- Collaboration is a key question that is crucial for any development. Without a comprehensive and intersectoral collaboration, we don't stand a chance in the move towards a sustainable, fossil-fuel-free society. And now when the sustainability question is actually becoming part of the business operation, the architect can be a driving force in the development, thanks to our holistic perspective, says Elin Johansson.