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TrendBook Cities of Tomorrow: 10 takeaways


Faced with health, social, environmental, economic or real estate challenges, cities must constantly reinvent themselves. Today, the Covid-19 pandemic has accelerated the multitude of ways that we can interact with a city and the real estate offers that are able to support cities on the road to resilience. Filled with interviews, analysis, concrete examples and the sharing of perspectives from international experts and professionals, the new Cities of Tomorrow TrendBook sheds light on the reflections of many players from within the industry. Each are working across Europe to help construct our future cities, which must of course be driven by inclusivity.

1 - The health crisis reveals the need for proximity     
The health crisis now offers a new perspective, as we revaluate our relationship with distance, transport and focus on caring for the environment. More than ever, the Covid-19 pandemic is shedding light on the relevance of the "15-minute city" concept. In many cities people have been unable to travel further than a limited radius during lockdown, so metropolises have been led to question how they are setup. Like other cities, Milan, the economic capital of Italy, which was hit hard by the health crisis, has drawn up a new roadmap for the post-Covid period. This is based on the 15-minute city that champions bicycle mobility through the creation of 35 kilometres of cycle paths. 

2 - A new relationship with time and space? 
The pandemic has incited a new relationship with time and space. Over the last few decades, we have developed space and infrastructure to save time. However, one of the questions we are being asked today because of the health crisis is how to organise time, meaning our everyday rhythms and urban development, to save space. After periods of lockdown, tactical urban planning has shown its potential. Cities, and Paris in particular, have reclaimed roads and parking spaces, to recreate spaces for conviviality whilst still respecting the principles of physical distancing. 

3 - Urban logistics is gaining ground
The health crisis has certainly reinforced the momentum of e-commerce. The whole logistics process is therefore taking on greater importance in cities across Europe. However, urban logistics are not without challenges, beginning with the last mile of delivery. The various players in the sector need to be creative when it comes to infrastructure and the establishment of micro depots, or mixed-use buildings combining offices, housing and logistics. Urban freight must also improve through the pooling of deliveries by a single lorry for example. In addition, urban transport must move towards electric mobility in order to improve the quality of life in city centres and help fight against global CO2 emissions.

4 - The circular economy is part of the real estate development business model
The circular approach thinks of buildings in terms of raw materials, waste and resources. The sustainability of buildings and the way of using them is at the centre of this reflection. In order to be as successful as possible, circularity is based on the commitment of all those involved in the act of building: project owners, contractors, material manufacturers, site workers and waste professionals. Unveiled in March 2020 by the European Commission, an action plan contains guidelines for construction, which will be translated into a "global strategy for a sustainably built environment" by 2021. These include the revision of the regulation concerning construction products, with the possibility of introducing requirements concerning recycled materials and the use of the Level(s) evaluation framework. 

5 - Biomimicry, key to meeting the most important challenges of cities
Biomimicry draws on nature for new ways to meet human needs. It is based on the vast array of solutions present in the living world, which have been perfected throughout their evolution. So how can nature be integrated into a model city? When architects and all those involved are designing a city or a building, they must look to the local ecosystem for inspiration. In an ecosystem, different species are interconnected and interdependent in terms of the flow of resources. It also runs entirely on solar energy, the system being zero waste and at the same time highly productive. Ecosystems should therefore serve as models for cities.

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6 - The trend towards soft mobility and electric transport
In post-Covid-19 European cities, cycling has been given a real boost with the creation of temporary cycle paths. In August 2020, the European Cyclists' Federation cited almost 3,000 km of cycle paths that were to be created throughout Europe, of which 2,000 km have been completed. If successful, they could be made permanent and accompanied by new urban developments (carparks, cycle routes, repair centres, etc.). In addition, more than seven million electric cars were on roads worldwide in 2019. The development of this type of mobility, whether collective or individual, has a strong impact on infrastructure and how power supplies inside and outside cities are managed. 

7 - Co-construction: citizens at the heart of urban planning programmes?
Co-construction enables inhabitants and local players to influence urban planning programmes. For local authorities, it also provides security for developments and limits disputes. Over the last ten years, platforms for citizen participation have multiplied and have reinforced, or even replaced, traditional public meetings. Moreover, participative budgets, which first appeared in Europe in the 2000s, are experiencing a new impetus thanks to digital technology. Lisbon was the first European city to use digital technology to manage its participatory budget in 2008.

8 - Smart City: technology at the service of its users 
Through the Internet of Things (IoT), digital technology offers a multitude of solutions for urban planning. It involves redeveloping public space, rethinking flows, or improving daily life. Indeed, by putting the data collected at the service of performance, the smart city paves the way for more economical, tailor-made management, while at the same time being user-centric. In 2010, Santander in Spain, was chosen by the European Commission to become a pilot smart city. Ten years later, with around 20,000 sensors installed, the city has improved the daily lives of its 180,000 inhabitants by reducing traffic congestion by 80% and saving 40% on lighting. 

9 – Cities are becoming more resilient to climate challenge 
In the four corners of the globe, climate projections predict an increase in temperature and sea level, but also in the frequency and intensity of events such as storms and heat waves over the next few decades. Worldwide, 70% of cities are affected by climate change.  Through their working group dedicated to the climate resilience of cities, researchers from Wageningue University (Netherlands) have formulated recommendations based in particular on the identification of the areas that will be most affected, the cooling of neighbourhoods through the intelligent management of urban waterways, but also the reduction of damage caused by excess run-off water by planting trees. In addition, local practices can enable the emergence of international initiatives. Created in 2005, the C40 now brings together 96 of the world's largest cities to help them replicate, improve and accelerate climate action.

10 – Diversifying how we use our spaces 
Crucially, cities must now adapt to the health crisis, which has revealed the importance of revaluating how we interact with and use spaces. Indeed, the Covid-19 pandemic favours the reversibility of spaces and infrastructures. In Berlin, for example, nightclubs have played host to exhibitions or become bar-restaurants. Calibrated to absorb influxes of people in one direction and then the other, transport infrastructures and offices are also adapting to new rhythms and working methods. This new mindset of how we view places has in turn provoked many new possibilities. At the height of the pandemic, hotels, residences or even boats have been converted into housing for clinics or the homeless, factories have adapted their production lines, fablabs have used their 3D printers to make ventilators. And what about tomorrow? The concept of "resource territories" could shape the future of cities.