Six trends that are shaping digital and physical environment: research by Dragon Rouge

Continuing its «Futures» series of thought-provoking trend forecasts, the branding agency Dragon Rouge has conducted a study on urban space and the future of build environments in the UK. Together with Travis Perkins, a British builders’ merchant and home improvement retailer, they have identified six continuous forces that will shape digital and physical environment by 2030.

For this research, the team has interviewed British engineers, architects, academics, data specialists, designers, futurologists and other specialists. And the trends are, as follows:

1. Shortage of physical space.

According to the research, the population of the U.K. is expected to reach 73 million people, 10 million of which will live in London. Overall, 92% of population is estimated to live in urban areas. Between 1996-2012, the number of houses with two to more families sharing the same house has increased by 68%.

Co-housing, sharing of private and open spaces by individuals and companies, floating villages (like the one at London’s Royal Docks), modular furniture, vertical gardens, easy-to-assemble LEGO-style houses—all these phenomena of modern urban living will gain momentum by 2030.

2. Gamification of public space.

As the borderline between work and pleasure blurs, more commercial institutions such as university campuses or offices are changing working environment to meet the expectations of modern people who live in a pure work-life balance.

3. Dynamic, responsive structure of living/working spaces.

While the inner and outer spaces squeeze, physical objects like cars or furniture adjust to these changes. Nomadic module-like workspaces, pop-up retail stores, smart houses, intelligent buildings, use of materials with emotional and sensorial properties, boom of coworkings and collaboration zones—all these things have become especially popular between 2011-2014 and the trend is still growing. For example, in the U.S. only the number of coworking spaces has grown from 703 in 2011 up to 2,490 in 2013.

4. Rise of local communities.

In the UK, according to the research, 65% of respondents say their local communities will be safer and ‘stronger’ if their members get to know each other better. Local historical buildings, local restaurants, small local businesses, shared local means of transportation —people pay more attention to all things local to improve their daily comfort and wellbeing in their neighborhood.

5. «Do it yourself» attitude.

Rising costs on raw materials and commitment to sustainability makes more Britons «do-it-yourself» (DIY) amateurs. 93% either do or have done DIY, although 41% still prefers to pay a professional to do some job rather than «do it yourself». Another reason why making things by hands instead of buying new ones is becoming increasingly popular is the boom of 3D printing. It is projected that in 2014 it was spent 417 m in the 3D printing industry, up from 180 in 2012.

6. Zero waste society.

Resource scarcity and environmental problems have resulted in a more holistic approach to funding, designing and fabricating buildings for maximum efficiency. At the moment, over 50% of all carbon dioxide emissions in the UK and over 109 million tons of waste are generated by the construction industry.

To see the full trend report or view the situational video stories, please visit