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How new living spaces can address both climate change and COVID-19

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Future-proofing our cities from “pandemic fatigue” and the ongoing climate crisis share the same solution according to one expert.

Young people living in some of the world’s most populous cities are unhappy, according to recent research conducted by global design and architecture firm, Gensler. 

“Younger generations, specifically millennials – those between age 23 and 39 – are the most dissatisfied in large international cities. We also see this trend continue through the younger Gen Z, too” said Raj Patel, a Senior Associate and Architecture Design Director at Gensler.

Speaking at Cityscape's Real Estate Summit 2020, the architecture expert also said that “the world’s biggest cities are seeing that their residents are likely to move as a result of their dissatisfaction of living in them.”

Patel added that, although this dissatisfaction existed prior to the lockdown caused by COVID-19, it was exacerbated by the 2020 pandemic. 

“As millions of people have worked from home during this pandemic, they have questioned things like ‘why do we have to have long commutes to work?’ ‘Why do I need to live in a dense environment?’ ‘Why do we have to stay cooped up for days on end in small living spaces with no access to fresh air?’”

HEALTH AND WELLNESS FIRST

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The answer to restoring millenial and Gen Z satisfaction, and preventing a mass exodus of young people from the world’s leading cities lies in “creating neighbourhoods which promote wellbeing and green spaces”.

He added: “Sustainability, openness, wellness, walkability, flexibility and reimagining our tourist spaces are key to future-proofing our cities in terms of the environment and retaining talent, and helping our cities to remain successful in the event of another pandemic.”

He suggested ways city organisers could help achieve these goals, through promoting smaller self-sufficient ‘20-minute’ neighbourhoods, in which all amenities and essential facilities, such as outdoor green spaces, health facilities and essential food shops could be reached within 20 minutes of each area. 

“The shelter-in-place lockdowns seen across the globe restricted movement and residents often struggled with finding important amenities. Whilst home delivery skyrocketed, and became a great solution, we now have an opportunity to rethink our neighbourhoods, in terms of housing, parks, health facilities, and local services,” he concluded. “We should ask not ‘how much more area can we squeeze into developments?’ but ‘do we have the right types of areas in developments?’”

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