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What kind of future do the young see?

24 of May '22

What will happen in the future primarily concerns young people? Despite their fundamental importance in the "future" project, we rarely reach out for their opinions, expertise and appeals. However, it is worth asking, what kind of future do the young see?

"Polish Cities of the Future 2050 Through the Eyes of the Young" is a report that follows the completion of an interdisciplinary project of the same name. The aim of the initiative was to create opportunities for young people to describe their vision of the world. The project was carried out by Saint-Gobain Poland in cooperation with the Polish Society for Future Studies.

As many as three scientific circles from different universities took part in the project. The AD FUTURUM Scientific Circle from the Faculty of Geography and Regional Studies at the University of Warsaw, the Architecture of Tomorrow Scientific Circle from the Warsaw University of Technology and the ECOSYSTEM Scientific Circle from the Silesian University of Technology, which focuses on forecasting. What directions do the students see for development?

uczestnicy projektu

project participants

© Saint-Gobain Poland

changes needed to be made

The students divided their visions depending on the field. They focused primarily on what the areas should look like in 2050. This date is not coincidental, referring to the IPCC report's thesis of the need to go down to a "net level" in carbon dioxide equivalent production and capture. Participants also cited necessary solutions and recommendations.

In the field of housing , the students primarily stressed the need for the predominance of multifunctional buildings - providing not only housing, but also services, recreation or strengthening neighborhood relations. It is important to use modern technologies like smart home, as well as green technology, including betting on greater energy self-sufficiency. There needs to be a shift toward zero-emission buildings, the use of sustainable materials and carbon capture. Students also pointed out the need to densify development and bet on high-rise buildings to reduce urban sprawl.

The development of transportation must be based on the primacy of public transportation, in the case of private cars it is important to develop electric cars (taking into account the origin of energy, so as not to use carbon-intensive coal or gas). Also important is the development of P+R parking and bicycle paths.

wizja studentów stawia na zrównoważony transport

students' vision focuses on sustainable transportation

© Saint-Gobain Poland

The need for rest, denied today only by a marginal group of radical laissez-faire, has also been taken into account. Above all, participants in the project emphasize the need to spread leisure into two spaces: the immediate neighborhood and the virtual world. The first requires proper urban planning, creating places with greenery and sports fields. The second relies primarily on the development of technology. The second factor is also very important with science, which participants mention as an undeniable element of the cities of the future.

In the case of infrastructure, one may feel mildly unsatisfied, as it was limited primarily to a change in thinking about water and sewage management, energy use and how to manage resources. A report here would have required a broader view.

The final area is labor. Students point to the development of a hybrid work system, and thus coworking spaces in the immediate vicinity of residential buildings. Stationary workplaces would be more rotational, with corporate interactions primarily concentrated in spaces such as metaverse. The nature of the work would also affect the design of housing, which would need to be ready to accommodate work from home and provide adequate work-life balance.

zieleń to istotny element rozwoju miast

Greenery is an important part of urban development

© Saint-Gobain Poland

seven fundamental conditions

After being introduced to the desired vision of the world, the participants of the project created a list of seven points that should be fundamental in shaping cities in Poland. They singled out, among others:

  1. Theconcepts of a 15-minute and compact city - with better communications and good infrastructure.

  2. Changing work patterns - pointing to a shorter workday.

  3. Self-sustainability of the city - hybridity, adaptability and ease of transformation according to needs.

  4. Integrating local communities - including residents in decision-making processes.

  5. Taking human psychology into account - creating a new urban space in line with human psychology.

  6. Clean energy and mobility - betting on RES, new technology and mass transportation.

  7. Sustainable and green development - betting on blue-green infrastructure.

budynki w wizji studenckiej nie są tylko przestrzenią mieszkania, ale również pracy, rekreacji czy usług

Buildings in the student vision are not just spaces for living, but also for work, recreation or services

© Saint-Gobain Poland

paradigm shift

What is most important about the project is that it draws attention to the need to change thinking about urban development. Participants in the project talk about changing the "metabolism of the city" from a linear one, based on production and disposal, to a circular model in the type of closed-loop economy. The need for a paradigm shift is becoming a fundamental issue that determines whether we will live in drying concrete deserts full of car traffic jams or green, sustainable cities.

The report is available on the Saint-Gobain Poland website(see here).

compiled by Wiktor Bochenek

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