Radically Rethinking Residential

As we have grown to value our local communities more over the pandemic — how can we use these learnings as a design driver for progressive change?

As home building gathers pace and as more and more of us consider life and work outside of big cities we’re asking how residential developers might rethink the design, functions and purpose of their projects, to create homes and communities which better serve our needs now and into the future.

At NewTerritory we’re asking how you create a connected community and environment that feels like home, for a workforce that is free and flexible but still only human, seeking security?

How do we build on this desire for freedom and exploration on the one hand and our search for comfort, security and solidity on the other? How can we balance these polarised desires for flexibility and structure, integration and privacy, proximity and space?

Here are three ideas on what residential developers should consider when planning out their next big projects.

MULTIMODAL MOVEMENT

Transport solutions have become increasingly innovative and flexible — whether ride sharing, car-clubs, dockless light vehicles, cycling infrastructure or delivery solutions which can transport goods as easily as people. However these innovations have stayed within urban centres and rarely integrate or connect into purpose built, rural developments.

What if we built developments around truly multi-modal transport choices that provided choices beyond the car, allowing residents to cycle, scoot or wheel as easily as drive?

What if we re-thought the concept of vehicle ownership entirely for new developments and enabled a shared vehicle and integrated transport infrastructure into the community, offered to residents as a service — stitched together with a digital platform that managed demand and shared transport as a community resource.

SOFT TECHNOLOGY

Developers should embrace the changing role of technology in our lives and how it can be used more integrally within a home to serve our changing needs and expectations.

What if developers integrated a technology framework into the fabric of the home and surrounding environment which could be used to improve our work, our sense of connectedness to our neighbours and our wellbeing through health monitoring and environmental management?

Light touch, integrated and inconspicuous conferencing, virtual reality and haptic technology is being used increasingly in workplaces but could be deployed within homes, to create connection which is convenient yet unobtrusive, present yet secure.

Rather than homeowners needing a mesh of separately purchased and incompatible IoT devices, developers should provide homes with a robust connectivity and security foundation from planning.

Technology could even be used for our wellbeing and health, with discrete monitoring systems embedded into home environmental controls, switches and the utilities we use, to keep a quiet eye out for us.

Digital tools and apps could be provided to connect residents to their homes but also the wider neighbourhood network, underpinning the connectedness of the community, whether for shared transport or other functional needs, to provide help and support or even just serendipitous sociability.

SHARED EXPERIENCES

One of the surprising ‘upsides’ of the COVID lockdowns was, paradoxically, the increase in communality. Whether families sharing food with other households, supporting the isolated and the vulnerable or enjoying socially distanced roadside coffee breaks with neighbours, people re-discovered a sense of care for one another.

Rural villages and communities were once typically built on key shared infrastructures, which brought people together — the green, the pub, the post office, the bakery, the village hall. High-end developments throughout the world now offer residents a range of luxury spaces to book and enjoy, from gyms to restaurant-level kitchens and cinemas, concierge services to children’s creches to spaces to reflect, connect or work.

What if residential developers offered updated forms of services and functional spaces like these as part of the design of their projects, creating a flexible, shareable, micro-high street for residents, organised through digital booking systems and presented as a key part of the location and reason for living there?

Developers have the opportunity to radically rethink the design and purpose of residential projects. Through integrating mobility solutions into out of town locations, integrating digital infrastructure into the fabric of homes or offering residents shared services and features, developers should consider how the spaces they build can be physically and digitally connected to help people come together into resilient, future-facing communities.

By Hugo Jamson, Creative Director at NewTerritory.