Architects and designers are reimagining the community of the future.

The United Nations projects that 2.5 billion more people will live in cities by 2050. With urban living on the rise, the difficulties of living in densely populated areas are only going to increase. In response, a host of designers and architects are redesigning urban living for a more affordable, sustainable and communal future.

In August 2019, TC Plus unveiled a house that doubles as a shared gathering space for the entire neighborhood. Called G-Lab, the house can be transformed from a private home into a communal space using moveable dividers, in an effort to reimagine conventional living models. “The G-Lab is outside a traditional economic model. You cannot rent or claim spaces, only share them,” explained the architecture studio.

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G-LAB designed by TC Plus. Photography by Luc Roymans
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The front of the house features the Neighbor’s Court, a bocce ball court that TC Plus describes as “always accessible, and where everyone can play together no matter their age or language.” Instead of a traditional front door, the house is accessed through an eight-meter-wide curtain, which can be drawn for privacy. Inside the house, spaces range from public to private, with beds hidden in alcoves behind folding wooden panels.

In June 2019, Ikea’s research lab Space10 launched the Urban Village Project, a new community format structured around the idea that cities should be more communal, more affordable and more sustainable. The concept proposes a subscription-based living model with shared facilities and communal services like daycare, urban farming and shared transportation. The design combines private living with shared spaces such as communal kitchen and dining areas in an effort to foster social connection.

JWT_Hero Image 2 – SPACE10 – The Urban Village Project – Shared Courtyard View – Made by EFFEKT Architects for SPACE10
JWT_Hero Image 3 – SPACE10 – The Urban Village Project – A Sustainable Home View – Made by EFFEKT Architects for SPACE10
JWT_SPACE10 – The Urban Village Project – Community Social Hub – Made by EFFEKT Architects for SPACE10 – 5
The Urban Village Project by SPACE10 and EFFEKT Architects. Images courtesy of SPACE10

The project also proposes a democratic financing structure, allowing residents to progressively purchase ownership shares, keeping rents low. Ikea’s vision is to look at “new realities that promote a sense of wellbeing and turn the spaces we inhabit into healthier and happier places, all while being more affordable and efficient for those that live there.”

In Mexico, an experimental neighborhood proposes different housing prototypes designed to improve residents’ quality of life. The social housing project, called Housing Research and Practical Experimentation Laboratory, was led by Infonavit, a federal company that develops workers’ housing. The company selected 32 architects and designers to create innovative solutions to issues plaguing low-income housing in Mexico, in an effort to address everything from furniture to construction techniques to water-saving systems to sustainable energy sources, without driving home costs up.

“It is clear that unless we rethink our built environment, our cities will become increasingly unsustainable, unaffordable and socially unequal,” said Jamiee Williams, architectural lead at Space10. Designers like these are leading the charge, finding new ways of living together.

JWT_Hero Image 4 – SPACE10 – The Urban Village Project – Local Material Village Medellin – Made by EFFEKT Architects for SPACE10
The Urban Village Project by SPACE10 and EFFEKT Architects. Image courtesy of SPACE10