Five urban trends for 2024
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Five urban trends for 2024

A report by Cristina Mateo, Associate Dean at IE School of Architecture and Design in Madrid

Five urban trends for 2024
By Editorial Staff -

Artificial intelligence, automation and blockchain technology are some of the issues related with the evolution of Smart Cities, in parallel with environmental themes, such as renewable energy sources, circular economy and soft mobility. In today's global world, facing the twin green and digital transition and constantly balancing ethics with the rapidly advancing power of technology, cities and regions need to play a more visible role.

Cristina Mateo, associate dean of IE School of Architecture and Design in Madrid, describes the five trends that will shape urban spaces this year.

Regent's Park, London Photo by Umezo Kamata / Wikimedia Commons, License CC Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported (CC BY-SA 3.0 DEED)


1. Shifting Power from the Country to City Level

Governance and economic strength has been shifting from country level to more localized city or regional levels. This shift also increases the role cities and regions play when addressing complex societal challenges. At the same time, capital cities from most populated countries, which are generating most GDP, are not necessarily having equivalent public infrastructure.

In 2024, some of the most populated countries will have general elections, including USA, Indonesia, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Mexico. This represents a big opportunity for urban areas within these nations to advocate for more autonomy and resources to tackle local issues, such as housing problems.

The World Cities Summit (WCS), to be held in Singapore in June, will be a great platform for government leaders and industry experts to address liveable and sustainable city challenges.

Gardens By The Bay, Singapore Photo by Dietmar Rabich / Wikimedia Commons, License CC Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International (CC BY-SA 4.0 DEED)

2. Watching the ‘Orange Economy’ Continue to Grow

The creative orange economy, as labeled by UNESCO, is an evolving concept based on the contribution and potential of creative assets to contribute to economic growth and development. The cultural and creative industries are two of the fastest growing sectors, with a global value of $4.3 trillion a year and nearly 30 million jobs worldwide. This dynamic economy requires a workforce with timeless, relevant skills in a constantly evolving environment.

The emphasis on creativity, innovation and entrepreneurship within these industries suggests that they are not only vital for economic growth but also for addressing global challenges through creative solutions.


3. Meeting AI at a Crossroads

As MIT economist David Autor reminds us, 60% of workers today have jobs that did not exist 80 years ago, further proving the transformative effect of technology on the job market. This transformation is not limited to traditional sectors but also significantly affects the creative economy. In response to the threat imposed by generative AI, human creators need to know enough and be able to negotiate the value of their work.

Parc Montsouris, Paris Photo by besopha / Wikimedia Commons, License CC Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0 DEED)


4. Allowing Private Innovation and Public Sector-Led Urban Development to Grow in Parallel

Private large tech companies are having an increasing decision making power in cities and developing new urban settlements, as recently highlighted by forthcoming curator of Venice Architecture Biennale, Carlo Ratti: «Billionaire-built cities would be better than nothing».

At the same time, six of the ten largest construction megaprojects under construction happen to be in Saudi Arabia, one of the top 20 economies in the world, largely driven by the public sector: NEOM City, The Gulf Railway, King Abdullah Economic City, Al Maktoum International Airport, Jubail II.

The call for a balance between viewing people as citizens versus consumers highlights the need for bringing together private sector efficiency and innovation with public sector inclusiveness and equity.

Yu Garden, Shanghai Photo by Stefan Fussan / Wikipedia Commons, License CC Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported (CC BY-SA 3.0 DEED)


5. Emphasizing Social Interaction

When it comes to the Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) criteria of urban planning, in 2024 the S seems to be still forgotten. A sense of community is an important indicator of city liveability and indirectly contributes to urban economic productivity.

Strong social bonds and community engagement can lead to better governance participation and lower crime rates, echoing author, theorist and activist Jane Jacobs’ concept of “eyes on the street” as a natural crime deterrent. At the same time, face-to-face encounters create and sustain urban communities aided by numerous green and public spaces.

Smart City Image by Sunilkumar.utkal / Wikimedia Commons, License CC Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International (CC BY-SA 4.0 DEED)

«As our world continues to develop, digitalize and automate, efforts to balance ethics with the rapidly advancing power of technology are associated with a blend of fear and optimism for urban landscapes. In order to stay ahead of the trends and events of 2024, we must move through the year with caution and excitement of what’s to come. [...] As we dive into the urban trends of 2024, it’s clear that we’re standing at the crossroads of significant change, with power, innovation and community at the heart of the conversation».
Cristina Mateo

All images retrieved from Wikimedia Commons

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