27 Apr 2020

Strategists and futurists, James Tuma and Kate Meyrick predict some significant changes from the economic disruption caused by coronavirus.

Our cities are where COVID-19 will promote the most profound social and spatial changes with short and long-term shifts in how we live, work, study, entertain ourselves and consume goods and experiences.

It’s time to think beyond the immediate ­future and consider what the new normal could look like: what kind of urban society and what kind of cities do we want to be part of and live in?

There will be private funding of commercial space as more of the workforce finds they can work very productively from home. This decentralisation will have a reasonable short-term impact on the levels of vitality that city centres have historically enjoyed, which may take a decade to resolve. This could lead to a renaissance of local centres and the resumption of lifestyles and livelihoods that orient around the neighbourhood.

The economic shift intensifies towards knowledge and advanced professional services, but there is also a move to reinforce the resilience of domestic supply chains with more on-shoring and growth in advanced manufacturing and food production.

The neighbourhood or polycentric model will privilege walkability and urban active transport models while reducing the need for road infrastructure. Investment will be channelled into local streets and a fine mesh of public transport options that facilitate local trips.

Our cities are where COVID-19 will promote the most profound social and spatial changes.

Public open space may mean a series of smaller and more intimate green spaces and community places that encourage small groups rather than mass gatherings.

There will be a greater emphasis on creativity than on consumption with a resurgence in local food, music, arts and cultural production that feeds off a desire for increased community identity and expression, in an evolution of the experience economy.

The most enduring legacy of this 100-year global event will be the emergence of the “covillennial” generation, with almost one-quarter of Australians born between 1996 and 2016 whose early lives have been profoundly affected by the dramatic onset of social and economic change due to the contagion. Their long-term urban appetites and ­social behaviours will ultimately refashion our cities and how we live in them.

Generational values and behaviours are powerfully influenced by our formative years and we could see the rise of a cohort that is more cautious and more caring than the millennials: a “be with me”, rather than a “look at me”, attitude to life that seeks to amplify social connection and reduce conspicuous consumption, with values founded in deeper appreciation of collective social resilience and reciprocity.

The above is a snippet from the original article published by The Australian. Read the full article here (paywall).