So far in 2020, there has been a lot of talk about the evolution of the shared living sector that has been booming in the last few years. This is mainly due to the pandemic impact that shuffled the cards that many investors, designers, and developers had in place.
Now instead, everything looks like a big question mark. But there is a bunch of smart people actively working against this confusing outcome. It’s the Class of 2020. If you’d like to know more about them you can also check our previous article A Designer at Heart at the Class Conference. For yesterday’s event, a lot of experts gathered to discuss innovation, new directions, and trends in the market of co-working, co-living, student accommodations, and other forms of blended living solutions.
We, like many others, took part in it expressing our thoughts and projections. So, let’s dive into it and see what’s what.
A Designer at Heart
We participated with two main content, one in video form and a written article.
The reasoning started from the fact that the initial virus outbreak caught everyone by surprise, and it took a while for all of us to adjust and to find appropriate solutions. In our history though, pretty much any past shocking event or Black Swan left behind a trail that eventually changed some of our habits for good.
*Some short-term measures applied for health & safety against Covid
So, when it comes to student accommodations and in general shared living schemes, I tried to envision what changes could be required not only now that the virus is still in full swing, but also in the future, as a sort of prevention measure, if anything like this should happen again.
For the video, I focused on how the restricted access to universities forces students to spend much more time in their accommodation room. PBSAs have always the option of large open space communal areas, which are advantageous for social distancing, but they also limit privacy. So, I think that smaller, bookable spaces dedicated to specific activities, such as study, meditation, or relax could allow for smaller group gatherings, and a nice alternative to the single room isolation while maintaining some degree of privacy.
Here below is the video:
Our second piece is the article published in the Trend Report by Class of 2020.
Ever tried to think about what the next solution after hand sanitiser and protective screens could be?
Something that helps to decrease the contagion risk, improve social distancing, and in the long run make our life better even in tough conditions like these. This was the focus of our written piece. A short analysis of the (recent) past, and proposed guidelines for the future min and long-term ahead. To know more check the full article Future-proof Design in Shared Living.
What about the others?
As mentioned before, the topics discussed during the conference were many, as rich is the material shared. So, I decided to select a few to illustrate here, hoping they might be as interesting for you as they are for me!
Among the ideas presented, one that really sparked my interest is the rise of the Subscription model in real estate. An idea that indicates a proper change in our society that perhaps only a few people are realising yet.
Right now, if I say monthly subscription, some of you will instantly think about Netflix, or Disney Plus, or Amazon Prime. But then again, why not make it your next apartment in a new city?
Society is creating the perfect conditions for this new model to thrive. In fact, while the average purchasing power of new generations like the millennials is decreasing, research says that GenZs are less interested in good ownership but value much more the experience. With this in mind and the new remote working possibilities opened by this 2020, a flexible model that allows people to go and stay for even a few months period in one place without having to worry about any bureaucracy or maintenance and services doesn’t seem so distant.
He investigates how students still value the mobility program and the lessons even without being able to actually move at the moment. The desire to continue the program brought the discussion to the European Commission that approved a new model called Blended Mobility. This allows students to travel for short-term periods and at the same time integrating with online lessons. Again, if this model is widely adopted even by students on normal study programs it could very well affect the student accommodation sector, forcing developers to come up with new innovative models.
Finally, starting from similar premises, an analysis by CBRE observes how and why PBSAs are embracing Co-Living. The reduced mobility caused by Covid, the Co-Living, or PBSA solutions both offer valuable options for safety and a certain degree of social connection. In many ways, in fact, the two kinds of development overlap, and the boundaries between one and the other are blurred. What causes the shift though is the lack of PBSA in some countries that has brought students to turn to Co-Living solutions. At the same time these spaces are built to welcome different kinds of demographics making them more flexible and at the same time more approachable thanks to reduced prices, especially in big desirable metropolises.
According to this research then, in the future, a proper blended kind of residence could become the norm to answer the needs of these different age groups.
There is a lot more that can be covered that has been mentioned during the Conference, but I’ll let that to future articles. This is a very interesting time to be an interior designer as our way of living is changing so much due to our technological advancement and now these events that are somewhat out of our control. Some of these ideas are really thought-provoking and could spark new interesting innovations and concepts even in the Interior Design department, don’t you think?
I am Martina, an Italian designer based in London. I spend most of my time designing interiors or writing about it. I also love travelling. You may find me walking around the East End of London, drinking coffee and stopping at every single bookshop I bump into.