Since the Industrial Revolution society has experienced a paradigm shift of migration from the countryside to major cities. The attractive allure of the big metropolis was partly the promise of work and until recently this was still very much the case. The 2020 lockdown, coupled with advances in tech and a shift in mindset, is creating a work from home revolution. Our new office can now be located anywhere we choose and interestingly so can where we call home.
The lockdown has given us a taste of a simpler life, one where we are consuming less and enjoying a slower routine. We have found a new strength in the relationships with our neighbours that until recently had largely been lacking and we are reconnecting with nature. A study by the RSA think-tank found 38 per cent of people were cooking more from scratch and 40 per cent felt a stronger sense of local community during the crisis.
With the age of consumerism clearly being challenged, the ‘bigger is better’ narrative associated with moving to cities may just be losing its appeal. Yes, high density cities can and do still enjoy a strong sense of community. But, with reduced sunlight levels, a lack of wild spaces and poor air quality, city living isn’t for everyone.
Even before the lockdown, the new emerging trend for the movement of people in the UK was a move out of our largest city, London. Figures from the Office for National Statistics showed that 340,500 people moved out of the capital in the 12 months before June 2018. This is the largest number since the ONS began collecting data in 2012. London is now the only region of England where more people are leaving than arriving from other parts of the country.
With the introduction of agile working unlocking where we live, this trend will only be accelerated. The result could see a new revolution of movement, one where migration occurs out of the major cities and back into smaller communities. The shopping malls, multiplex cinemas and sports venues could be replaced with the attractions of a simpler life; a place with amenities that support holistic lifestyle choices and quality time with loved ones.
Whilst community spirit can’t be quantified and will probably never form a filter on Zoopla or Rightmove, we believe it can be facilitated for through design. This is why we are taking a fresh approach to home building. Our view is that your home isn’t limited to just the house you live in but instead extends to your wider community. It’s the allotments that you share with your neighbours and maker spaces which you can access via a short bike ride. By taking this approach we can truly create a home for the seekers of a new localism.