Megatrends help understand the future

3 June 2019
Trend researcher Oona Horx-Strathern outlines three megatrends

Trend researcher Oona Horx-Strathern highlighted 12 megatrends shaping the present and conclusions that can be drawn for the future of economy and society. The Future Institute, founded by her husband Matthias Horx, has identified the trends. Speaking during Thursday’s (May 23, 2019) Hamburg Innovation Summit in the Fischauktionshalle, Horx-Strathern said: “It will be easier to comprehend change, if we keep these megatrends in mind.”

Megatrend Silver Society – conquering new life worlds

More than half of all people now live in cities amid the megatrends of globalization and urbanization. This figure is likely to reach two thirds by 2050. Horx-Strathern pointed to the “Silver Society” meaning people, who are ageing but becoming more youthful. The futurologist speaks of “down aging”, which foresees diverse opportunities for living life anew and in different environments into old age. Yet despite long-lasting vitality, a future-orientated city must, for instance, make mobility suitable for the elderly. “Senior citizens in Singapore can activate a prolonged traffic light phase using a chip in a bracelet.” This leaves them more time to cross the road.

Megatrend Individualization versus co-culture

More individualisation is another trend, said Horx-Strathern. Single households now account for over 50 per cent of all households in Hamburg, which may lead to increasing isolation,” she warned. However, trends trigger countertrends i.e. co-culture in this case. Co-culture refers to working, gardening or living jointly. The number of square metres i.e. micro apartments that we live in will not be decisive in future, but the quality of co-living spaces that allow a community to live according to its needs, will be important.

Megatrend connectivity – networking in smart, urban development

The megatrend of connectivity refers to urban development and architecture as a lifestyle. Digital communication technologies impact people’s lives and so too does the environment. Horx-Strathern believes: “A city’s real task is to facilitate good relationships of all kinds. And this has been the case since time immemorial. In ancient Greece, the “Agora” was a central public space for gatherings and markets and fostered a sense of identity. According to Horx-Strathern, the Agora principle can boost the communal use of public areas. Architecture can also spur networking. “The space in cities is limited, so buildings have to built higher up.” Staggered balconies can stimulate communication “and turn a skyscraper into a vertical village”, she added.


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