New RIBA horizon scans predict global impact of population change – and call for architects to respond

New RIBA horizon scans predict global impact of population change – and call for architects to respond

The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) has published its latest set of horizon scans, spotlighting trends in global population change that will shape society and the built environment over the next ten years.  

Shifting patterns in births, deaths and migration are reshaping communities. The world faces ageing populations, swelling cities, and more people on the move than ever before. 

RIBA Horizons 2034: Population Change includes four horizon scans that consider how architects will need to adapt to respond to the changes. Written by leading academics and experts, they are commissioned by RIBA to provide foresight for building design professionals. 

The four horizon scans are:  

  • Urbanisation: the coming decade will be make or break for cities and the planet 
  • Demographics: slowing population growth, changing families and an ageing population 
  • International migration and displacement: the impact on the urban landscape 
  • Designing for an increasingly diverse population: the implications of the ethnic diversification and age polarisation of Britain’s neighbourhoods 

They discuss how households and neighbourhoods will change, with a need for housing to respond to the reality of smaller families and older, more diverse communities, especially in the UK.  

They also highlight the impact of unpredictable migration trends, driven by economic factors, but also by conflict and climate change.  

To tackle the challenge, they say architects must design inclusive, adaptable and resilient buildings. They call for leadership, innovation, collaboration, as well as knowledge sharing between professional institutes, governments and development partners. 

RIBA Horizons 2034: Population Change is part of the RIBA Horizons 2034 series interrogating the global megatrends predicted to shape society, the built environment, and the architectural profession by 2034. Previous scans focused on the environmental challenge and the economics of the built environment, and the final scans, exploring technological innovation, will be published next month.  

RIBA President Muyiwa Oki said: 

“As architects, we’re in a distinctive position of influence and responsibility – uniquely positioned to create and organise places for communities that are changing at a rapid pace. 

As populations age and diversify, these horizon scans call on us all to design truly adaptable and resilient buildings and places that foster a sense of belonging.  

They investigate the nuances of migration and displacement, and promote constructive dialogue.  

I encourage every architect to review the material to help understand the challenges and opportunities ahead.” 

Contributor to RIBA Horizons 2034: Population Change, Commonwealth Association of Architects (CAA) President Peter Oborn,said: 

“These horizon scans remind architects not only of the global challenges posed by issues such as climate change and rapid urbanisation, but also of the imperative for each of us to use our skills to promote advocacy, help build capacity and engage in climate action wherever we may be.” 

Read RIBA Horizons 2034: Population Change.

Explore RIBA Horizons 2034.

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