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Gensler’s Design Forecast – Predictions for Smart Buildings

Gensler’s Design Forecast – Predictions for Smart Buildings
08 April 2022

After almost two years of stops and starts due to the pandemic, enduring resilience is defining the built environment – that’s according to Gensler’s Design Forecast 2022.


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Let’s take a look at the highlights of the 2022 Design Forecast, where experts focus on design strategies that will define the future of the human experience:



Circular Cities to Support Climate Change


To combat the climate change dilemma, the built environment and city planning will play a huge role. To address climate change, pollution, and natural resource depletion, a more regenerative, resilient approach is required to planning and developing cities.

“Circular cities”, urban centres with circular metabolisms, will minimise sprawl, repurpose waste, and increase biodiversity.

Gensler has long advocated for the creation of circular cities. One recent project in particular, the Xichong Special Ecological Zone in Shenzhen’s Dapeng New District, pioneers a new model of development that can achieve both economic growth and ecological sustainability.


“Because remote workers can now go pretty much anywhere, cities are going to have to start focusing on attracting residents, particularly millennials, and that means providing that smaller city experience, and not just focusing on attracting businesses.”

–Sofia Song

Global Cities Lead, Gensler


Moving Away from Central Business Districts


To reimagine downtown cores, cities will need to adopt a mixed-use mindset. The trend away from single-use Central Business Districts (CBDs) into places with a greater mix of uses will continue.

Diversity in building types and uses are key to this trend. For example, more residential and pedestrian-oriented uses with more green space can be infused into CBDs to make them more inclusive, resilient, sustainable, and healthy. Cities should also adopt mixed-income and multigenerational communities to become more diverse and inclusive.

As Sofia Song, Global Cities Lead at Gensler puts it: “Because remote workers can now go pretty much anywhere, cities are going to have to start focusing on attracting residents, particularly millennials, and that means providing that smaller city experience, and not just focusing on attracting businesses.”




From e-scooters to e-bikes, improvements in vehicles powered by electric motors and batteries are transforming mobility. Beyond the benefits for tackling climate change, the shift to electrification has even broader implications for how we might reimagine our urban environments and city streets.

For example, petrol stations and parking garages could be repurposed for new uses that promote health and wellness. Using mobility innovation as a catalyst, we can remake our cities towards a much more human-centric model.



Permanent Workplace Pilots


Gensler sees the hybrid working shift as an opportunity to rethink the physical workplace to offer a unique and fulfilling experience that can attract talent, whether that’s through new technologies or new types of spaces.

Pre-pandemic, pilot projects were used to temporarily test out different workplace models without investing in an office-wide makeover.

Now, they’re becoming more permanent. Pilot programs allow companies to explore new furniture systems, experiment with inclusive collaboration technologies, investigate modular architecture, and explore sustainable workplace strategies, such as the use of low-carbon building materials.


Smart Tech to Help Decarbonisation


Over the next 30 years, energy systems will need to change dramatically to meet climate goals. Decarbonisation efforts and renewable energy generation is already growing rapidly. Gensler says that the next step is to leverage AI to enable more efficient and cost-effective decision-making for smart grids, sensor-connected power plants, and wind turbines. Smart technology will help the industry transition quickly and efficiently to a low-carbon global energy system.

To explore more insights from Gensler’s research, you can explore the full paper here.

Picture: a photograph of a person holding a smartphone to take a photograph of some high-rise buildings. Image Credit: PX Fuel

Article written by Ella Tansley | Published 08 April 2022


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