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6 big trends shaping the future of planning & design by Taylor Burrell Barnett

As we shape our cities into the future, planners will require a diverse toolbox of skills, some new, and some as old as the profession itself.

In this article, Taylor Burrell Barnett highlights 6 key trends that are poised to have an outsized impact on the future of planning and evolution of design in the coming decades.

1. Data-Driven Planning and Artificial Intelligence

Big-data, machine learning and artificial intelligence will fundamentally change the way we practice urban planning and design (e.g. automation of assessment processes; smart city modelling and data availability; participatory technologies and democratisation of design)

2. Future Mobility

Evolving personal and mass-transport options will create a new age of urban mobility, with wide-reaching implications for spatial planning and detailed design of our cities (e.g. autonomous vehicles; shifting infrastructure requirements; adapting streets, spaces and land use distribution; online shopping, socialising, employment and entertainment).

3. New Urban Morphology

Competing forces of decentralisation and densification will shape the new urban morphology of our cities, with planners increasingly needing to juggle complex and often competing priorities (e.g. verticalisation of cities; desegregation of land uses and urban functions; innovative responses to climate change and energy/food production and consumers as producers).

“Study the past if you would divine the future.” Confucius

4. Agile Cities

The accelerating rate of change combined with increased global competition for talent and resources will require planners, the planning system, and entire cities to be more agile in their response to these evolving challenges (e.g. proactive responses to sustainability and viability; demand for greater speed from regulatory systems; increase in grassroots and localised responses to provide tactical urbanism solutions).

5. People-Centered Planning & Design

In an increasingly automated and inauthentic world, cities risk losing their human connection with citizens. People-centred planning and place design will be an essential counterbalance to these forces to ensure physical and mental wellbeing is upheld as the highest ideal of urban planning (e.g. focus on citizen wellbeing; reducing isolation as a result of “online life”; need for authentic place creation to challenge monotony of pre-fabricated and/or modular design).

6. Seeing is Believing

A revolution in the visualisation of development proposals and strategic planning outcomes will break down barriers between built-environment professionals and lay-persons as the wider community’s ability to comprehend proposals creates a more engaged and empowered citizenry (e.g. virtual/augmented reality to shape consideration, collaborative design and visualisation in real time).

As a firm with a legacy now spanning half a century, Taylor Burrell Barnett has remained at the forefront of planning and design by constantly looking to the future to understand the complex issues impacting the way in which our cities and regions evolve.