Healthy, Sustainable Urban Design Trends in 2021

September 7, 2021



Micah Mongcal

With a deeply uncertain future, urban design faces the question of what business districts should be like. These speculative efforts envision how the scarce space in cities can be shared by individuals, creating opportunities – not only to share resources, but to build cities that feel like home. Too often, residential spaces in cities have the effect of feeling like enclosures. The self-contained, hermetically sealed model of city living – which has been replicated all over the globe – has caused isolation among individuals, and growing competition for smaller and smaller spaces.

These urban design trends are moving towards the concept of a “sharing city,” one that encourages connections between individuals, and gives equal priority to economic and environmental initiatives.

Co-living provides housing for residents who share values and interests.

Owning a home is a difficult goal for many urban residents, and rent prices also take a significant portion of income. An increasingly viable solution is to share a residence with others. Co-living is a unique form of shared housing because of the combination of private and communal spaces, which allow residents to socialize more easily. Many co-living residences include amenities like workspaces for professionals, gyms, and cafés. This provides a supportive community and a flexible setup for the urban resident whose lifestyle is constantly changing.

The Collective Old Oak building in London reinvigorates its West London location with its unique volumes and dramatic red columns.

Interconnectivity of products and services enable companies to build smart cities.

Meeting the needs of growing cities entails the use of cutting-edge technology. Many companies are stepping up to fulfill these needs using their products, contributing to the development of the city and gaining exposure for their products at the same time.

For example, in Astypalea island in Greece, Volkswagen has committed to establishing a transportation system that predominantly uses electric vehicles and renewable energy. Zeleros is leading the development of Hyperloop in Spain, a transportation system that can reach speeds over 600 miles per hour. The system uses magnetic levitation technology and low-pressure tubes to accomplish this without carbon emissions. These partnerships between governments and private corporations can provide the combined resources needed for urban design in smart and sustainable cities.

Mixed-use developments maximize the use of space and encourage diversity.

City districts that include a mix of public and private locations such as universities, hospitals, business centers, retail, and open spaces, accessible through walking and mass transportation, encourage residents to build spaces that serve multiple purposes. For example, the Italian startup Nooka allows people to rent backyard office pods, ensuring that the space is used with maximum efficiency.

urban design trend house
The Nooka structures are one of the more interesting pandemic versions of the co-working space.

As cities increase in density and present new challenges, urban design continues to evolve and find creative solutions. Individuals, companies, and governments are cooperating to use existing elements of the urban landscape more responsibly and efficiently – providing hope for new models of urban living that can adapt to the challenges of tomorrow.

Download this month's BLUPRINT magazine digital copy from:
Subscribe via [email protected]