The future of the city and domestic life

The future of the city and domestic life

For years now, Germany has been experiencing a phenomenon of “reurbanisation” – people are moving into the cities again. Future domestic life will therefore be located primarily in an (inner) city environment.

Various scenarios show that a standardised model of urban development will not exist in the 21st century. In the context of the social divide in society, a trend towards a “division of cities” can also be discerned: On the one hand, we have prosperous metropolitan regions with a good quality of life and high-quality living conditions; on the other hand we have cities that are marked by a declining population, a lack of jobs, unused industrial sites, an outdated infrastructure or an infrastructure that can no longer be financed (due to falling fiscal capacity) and deserted residential areas. Futureproof strategies therefore need to be developed that will determine how the State and the municipalities can ensure the equal living conditions in all parts of the country that are enshrined in the German constitution (Basic Law). One starting point would be a federal reform of the solidarity surcharge and the fiscal equalisation scheme between the Länder (German federal states). Cities are at the heart of globalisation – the interlinked global economy gives rise to “global cities”, which, in a transnational system compete for financial markets as industrial or services location or as attractive residential areas with a good quality of life. Against this backdrop, the metropolis will in future be transformed into the “cosmopolis” to suit the global lifestyles of the population.

Globalisation also includes the concept of “glocalisation” – a focus on the local. Through glocalisation, neighbourhoods and residential quarters are gaining a new central importance as the focus of life in the 21st century. High-quality living conditions mean that residents identify with “their” districts, feel at home there and are prepared to take responsibility for helping to shape the future development of the neighbourhood and local district – something that seems increasingly impossible for people on a large scale appears to be possible on a small scale.

One challenge facing city administrators, managers and planners will be to find a moderate and moderated solution for “gentrification” – the socio-cultural restructuring of urban areas – which has been gaining momentum since the beginning of the new millennium. This conflict in society can only be defused if there is widespread awareness of change processes, their advantages and disadvantages. Citizens must not perceive the gentrification of the urban space as “displacement”. The Foundation’s studies show the desire for participation and the associated trend towards a “civic society”. In the general debate about gentrification, a term, which historically has had a mainly negative connotation, it should not be forgotten that constant change is a key feature of the city (polis) – and will continue to be so in the future.

This general change process will also be a characteristic of the future of domestic life – the socio-cultural and socio-demographic changes will also be reflected here. The urban resource of “residential space” is becoming scarcer as a result of advancing reurbanisation; in addition, the existing residential space is only partially suitable for future requirements, which will be determined, for example, by factors such as commuting routes to (several) jobs, the physical layout of single apartments or shared accommodation or environmental factors such as energy efficiency. A key issue relating to future home life and living conditions will be “renting a lifestyle”. Because ideas about ownership are changing, the way in which people live will be redefined: they will be living as if in their own house but will not have to look after everything in the way that an owner has to. The living environment will also respond to the demographic trend – “Everyone under one roof – but everyone for him/herself!” will be the underlying principle of integrated residential projects. At a time of increased life expectancy, which for many, especially women, entails living alone, the multi-generation house is a viable lifestyle, ensuring security, community and social well-being without ignoring individual needs. Independence in one’s own home and living concepts with services will therefore be a feature of the future.

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