News and Insights

Eyeing the Future

August 13, 2020

New future cities report collects insights from highly esteemed architects and designers, sustainability experts, and thinkers from around the world.

Covid-19 was the disruption no one saw coming and uncertainty continues to loom large. What will our cities look like in the post-pandemic era? Which urbanization trends will remain, accelerate or disappear completely — and which ones should we work toward?

In a new white paper titled “Future Cities,” Hong Kong-headquartered CatchOn, a FINN Partners Company, asked 20 architects and designers, urban planners, sustainability experts, and thinkers based in Hong Kong, New York, London, Singapore, and Shanghai: What should governments and industry leaders consider as we envision the future of our cities? Broaching a diversity of subjects — from environmental sustainability, socioeconomic inequality, city planning and distributed urbanism, and key legislative change — “Future Cities” features insights from:

  • Aric Chen, Independent Curator; Professor, Tongji University
  • Catherine Shaw, Author; Architecture, Art and Design Critic
  • Charmaine Chan, Author; Design Editor, South China Morning Post
  • Christopher Law, Founding Director, Oval Partnership
  • Chris Panfil, Vice President and Director of Strategic Planning and Urban Design, WATG Singapore
  • Daven Wu, Singapore Editor, Wallpaper*
  • Ed Bakos, CEO, Champalimaud Design
  • Florian Idenburg and Jing Liu, Principals, SO-IL
  • Haewon Shin, Founder, Lokaldesign
  • Janice Lao, Global Sustainability Expert
  • JJ Acuna, Founder and Creative Director, JJA Bespoke
  • Joyce Wang, Principal, Joyce Wang Studio
  • Khee Poh Lam, Dean of the School of Design and Environment, National University of Singapore
  • Marcel Padmos, Associate Vice President, Strategic Planning and Urban Design, WATG Singapore
  • Moshe Adler, Author; Adjunct Professor, Columbia University
  • Patricia Dwyer, Founder, The Purpose Business
  • Sean Affleck, Director, Make Architects
  • Susan Rockefeller, Documentary Filmmaker and Environmentalist; Founder and Editor in Chief, Musings Magazine
  • Suzy Annetta, Editor-in-Chief, Design Anthology
  • Victoria Whenray, Partner, Conran and Partners

Below are some key takeaways from the report:  

 On sustainability and environmentalism

  • “We need to create no-go development zones to allow for wildlife species to remain wild and reduce human encroachment. We must develop an economy that works within nature’s constraints and allows for everyone to reap its benefits fairly.” – Janice Lao
  • “We should be looking at the massive, unprecedented financial packages that governments all over the world have been unleashing to prop up their economies at such astounding scale and speed, and asking them: Why can’t you do this to save the planet, too?” – Aric Chen

On inclusivity and equality

  • The pandemic has made the yawning gap between the value of work and its remuneration impossible to ignore, and our challenge is to narrow it.” – Moshe Adler
  • “As architects, planners, and city makers, we draw borders, sections, edges. We divide. We decide who is in and who is out. As we draw, we should take the utmost care to balance these forces. We should calibrate these layered divisions with sensitivity, ensuring people come together as closely as possible, as safely as possible. Living with each other on this ever-shrinking planet demands commitment and energy. We need to advocate for inclusivity and resourcefulness.” – Florian Idenburg and Jing Liu

On urban planning and design

  • “I say to the government and decision makers: Be opportunistic and be bold. We know that fewer emissions are better for the planet. Use this time to observe the ebb and flow of your city and simply prevent cars going back onto the streets that have clearly benefited from being re-wilded during these unprecedented times.” – Victoria Whenray
  • “At the macro level, factors such as scarcity of land and resources remain, so questions about how we cluster development and the quality of what we build will become even more important.” – Ed Bakos

To download the full report, click here.

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