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COMMENT BEYOND20


Urbanregeneration starts fromthe groundfloor


THE WAY WE USE CITIES MUST CHANGE, STARTING WITH THE WAY WE USE ITS GROUND-LEVEL SPACES


members, both before and during its first lock- down of 2020. Preliminary data seem to show that these networks are weakening while peo- ple work from home, as individuals tend to interact remotely with a smaller selection of peers and colleagues than in the physical office, where people naturally engage with many ‘weak ties’ and exchange ideas with broader groups of co-workers.


CARLO RATTI


sis have started to manifest themselves in real estate — an industry that invariably moves slower than others. The property sector will no doubt have to evolve in the post-Covid-19 world. We believe that, in addition to changes in offices and residential asset classes, key trans- formations will appear in an oft-overlooked area: the ground level of our cities. Let us review the great experiment of smart


M


working which began in spring 2020. Many observers have outlined extreme scenarios when predicting the legacy of this event, with some foreseeing the death of the office. However, there are good reasons to believe this should not and will not happen. Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute


of Technology (MIT) have analysed communica- tion networks among students and faculty


30


onths into a pandemic that has radi- cally changed our ways of working and living in the city, the effects of the cri-


Living at the office If the results above are verified, it confirmsthat shared workspaces are crucial forcompanies in fostering new ideas and consolidating a shared corporate culture. That said, it is fair to expect that a flexible working regime combining in- person and virtual interactions will remain in the long term, resulting in a decline indemand in overall workspaces. The question, therefore, becomes what


could happen to our homes if offices trend towardsbecomesmaller?Onehypothesis is that demand for larger homes will grow, at least in part, to accommodate the needs of those who are trying to balance their professionalandfam- ily lives: as the parents of young children have come to find out, this is far from simple. In short, the futures of residential and office


buildings are likely intertwined. On one hand, we will see a compensatory effect as the rising demand for the former helps offset the partial recession of the latter. On the other hand, per- haps more importantly, the division between professional and domestic environments is going to be upended even more. Instead of assigning a specific role to every room, it would makemore sense to use the same physical space for multiple purposes. One consequence of this new approach will be calling into question the traditional logic of asset classes, which until nowhas been a pillar of the real estate sector.


Rebuilding fromthe groundup There is another level of the urban landscape which will be crucial in determining our post-


www.fDiIntelligence.com December 2020/January 2021


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