5 Urban Design Trends To Watch In 2020

March 9, 2020


It is easy to take the urban spaces around us for granted. However, a lot of thought and planning goes into even the simplest of urban developments. By planning urban spaces more carefully, we can both enhance and expand their utility while also using them to achieve other political and societal goals. As a result, urban planning is a very important field of engineering. Below are five urban design trends that we expect to dominate in 2020.


Innovation Districts


By bringing different people together in the right way, it is possible to bring their skill sets and perspectives together as well. This is the principle that underpins innovation districts, areas of cities that are characterized by the inclusion of universities, hospitals, research centres or other so-called anchor points. These districts will also include spaces for retail, dining, office space, and general green spaces for pedestrians.


By ensuring that these innovation districts are well served by mass public transport, urban planners can ensure that these districts serve as regional hubs for creative ideas. This concept was first pioneered during the early 2000s and has since been implemented in a number of cities around the world. Innovation districts are now recognized as an effective means of improving metropolitan economies. Their design also encourages the spread of people and ideas throughout the area.


In order to be fully effective, these areas need to be served by a robust Wi-Fi network, enabling people to transmit and exchange information regardless of where they are within the innovation district. As you might have guessed, these are modern districts within urban areas and have architecture and infrastructure that reflects this. In order for an innovation district to achieve its aims, it needs to encourage sociability and the exchange of ideas.


Smart City Focus


There is little doubt in the mind of most urban planners that smart cities are the future of urban planning. We live in an increasingly data-driven world, one in which every aspect of our lives is now micro-managed according to data, machine learning, and algorithms. Governments around the world are now realising that if they can generate the right data automatically, they can turbocharge the way in which they plan their urban environments.


While there are a number of serious ethical issues surrounding data collection, smart cities circumvent most of these by gathering individual pieces of data in a completely anonymised way. By having this data automatically analysed in real-time, it opens the door to cities run almost entirely on automated systems that are able to respond dynamically to the needs of the citizens. For example, by automatically monitoring traffic flows, traffic lights in a city can change their timings in order to maximize the flow of traffic while minimising the amount of time that the vehicles need to spend idling their engines.


Designing the systems and infrastructure that underpin smart cities is a responsibility that will fall to the next generation of engineers. If this is the kind of engineering work that you aspire to do, there are a number of relevant engineering courses that you can study. Anyone interested in continuing education for engineers should check out the findcourses.com catalogue of available courses and see what they have to offer. Findcourses offer courses on a diverse range of subjects. They can help you to develop any personal or professional skills that you want to improve.


Blue Zones


Blue zones are areas of cities that have been designed specifically to promote the healthy living and longevity of the residents within. There are a variety of design and engineering practices that are used to achieve these goals. There is some research to suggest that areas that are designed as blue zones record lower incidences of cancer as well as fewer cases of heart disease, Alzheimer's, and Dementia. Furthermore, blue zones around the world boast the highest percentage of the population who have reached their 90s and 100s, as well as overall higher levels of happiness.


In order to achieve their stated objectives, Blue Zones need to include plenty of walkable environments that pedestrians can take advantage of, as well as utilising vertical space to minimise congestion at street-level. Blue zones should also aim to cater to as many different types of citizen so that they can serve different generations equally well. Strong family ties are important to overall health and well-being; if families are unable to live in the same area then it limits the contact people can have with them.


Green Zones


While blue zones are focused on promoting good emotional and physical health, green zones are much more focused on the logistical side of modern urban planning. If you are passionate about environmentalism and want to make a difference to play a part in ensuring that the cities of the future are designed with the environment in mind, you need to know all about green zones.


Sustainability is becoming a big vote winner around the world, with people now more in tune with environmental issues than they have ever been in the past. This means that they are demanding more from both their governments and from private businesses when it comes to protecting the environment.


Green zones can now be seen in many countries. Most new urban planning is done with ecological considerations in mind. For example, green zones will ensure that it is possible for citizens to get around them using cycle paths, footpaths, and other forms of environmentally friendly transportation. These areas are also designed to naturally conserve water and minimise the amount of wastewater being used.


Another vital aspect of a green zone is that it is largely or entirely powered by alternative energy sources. Incorporating renewable energy generation into new urban planning developments enables cities to build new infrastructure without encouraging a significant power cost.


Multi-Use Spaces


One urban design trend that has been building for some time now, and which is showing no signs of slowing, is the trend towards multi-use spaces. It no longer makes good economic or political sense to construct areas that can only be used for a single purpose; mixed-use spaces are now considered the norm.


As we discussed with blue spaces, by ensuring that new urban developments are suitable for multiple different uses, urban planners can do much more with the same space. The less restricted urban planners are when they are devising new spaces, the more intricately they can intertwine them. The traditional paradigms for urban planning have been shattered by the advent of online shopping and other dramatic changes in consumer behaviour. It no longer makes sense to just build retail areas, residential areas, and industrial areas as entirely separate entities.


The 5 trends that we have listed above are just some of those that we are expecting to be important over the next year. However, the field of urban planning is evolving rapidly in response to new advances in technology and our understanding of urban populations. The trends above will likely end up being just a small selection of the many that will emerge over the next years.


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JJ Sterling
As the co-founder of Urban Splatter and an architecture graduate from Chicago, I thrive on crafting a digital nexus where architectural innovation intersects with boundless digital opportunity. My academic roots in the Windy City's rich architectural tapestry inspire a unique vision for Urban Splatter's journey into the ever-evolving digital frontier of design. Join us as we navigate the exciting confluence of structure, style, and technology.

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