Four future megatrends that will shape our built environment

Four future megatrends that will shape our built environment

New research from Marshalls plc has identified megatrends which will shape the nature of the built environment. The Future Spaces report brings together the expertise of academics and esteemed industry professionals to offer a fresh perspective on 12 aspects of the future of our commercial, public and domestic spaces, and how they will be designed, built and lived in over the coming decade.


Four global megatrends will wield the strongest influence upon how built environments of the near future will develop: sustainability, shifting demographics, accelerating urbanisation and the idea of ‘smart as the new green’. Here, we’re taking a closer look at these four megatrends and examining the impact that Future Spaces predicts they’ll have.



For decades, sustainability has been a watchword in all sorts of fields, from politics and economics to education and commerce. However, as Future Spaces outlines, climate change and exponential population growth both look set to raise sustainability ever higher up the agenda. In particular, extreme weather events, worsening air pollution and water management issues will place sustainability firmly centre stage when it comes to changing the way we manage natural resources, and how we use precious materials in the built environment.


Shifting demographics

Human longevity is increasing at a rate never before seen in history, and the divide between those who live comfortably and those who struggle is growing. Additionally, female empowerment is slowly but surely reshaping our world. All of these demographic changes will demand new ways of living and working together and, in turn, new ways of imagining what the built environment could – and should – be.


Accelerating urbanisation

The proportion of the world’s population living in urbanised areas is growing at a steady rate year-on-year. This means that as well as becoming more densely populated, cities and other urban conurbations will spread and join with one another. This also means an increased pressure to use the limited space we have more wisely. Future Spaces warns that unless urgent action is taken, the living standards and general wellbeing of urban populations could suffer dramatically.


Smart is the new green

It makes sense that ‘smart’ technology should be at the centre of future cities’ clever designs, as it looks set to be at the centre of almost every other aspect of our lives. In tandem with the ‘internet of things’, ‘smart’ technology will carry real influence, changing everything from how data is exchanged and used to the way street furniture is designed.


The many factors set to influence the technology, design and ambiance of our future spaces are complex and interconnected. Speaking about Future Spaces and what the report’s findings may mean to those employed in the built environment sector, Marshalls Group Marketing Director, Chris Harrop, said:


“The Future Spaces report shows that, rather than a single vision for the future, the next ten years will be shaped by a complex web of interconnecting trends. As a consequence, the future for professionals working within the built environment will be filled with challenges, opportunities and no doubt a few surprises, as we seek to grapple with some of the most pressing challenges of our time.”


The full report can be found here:



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