BODW 2021 Trend Report

Global Design Reset: A Primer of Business of Design Week (BODW) 2021
Part 1: New Urban Models

What does the future of cities look like? How can designing the built environment become more sustainable? What challenges do architects face in our new normal?

CatchOn & Editorial Team·18 October, 2021

Quality of life and respect for nature are complementary goals. Architectural projects that convey urban prosperity, as well as sustainable practices and human wellbeing, converge where mobility, economics, and people-centric design intersect to address the growing challenges of urbanisation, and redefine a covetable and livable urban lifestyle.


There has been much debate on the resilience and future prospects of our urban landscape. The pandemic has irrevocably changed views on density and urbanization, offering an opportunity to consider how to reset our built environment and tackle emerging as well as deep-seated issues that have long hounded the world at large. Adapting to government-enforced conditions such as lockdowns and remote working has uncovered the need to think about the viability of our neighbourhoods and communities. With millions having had to stay at home, green spaces have never sounded more desirable or more fundamental for mental and physical well-being.


Rewilding urban spaces, for one, is on the agenda. Defined by the World Economic Forum as the effort to “restore an area to its original, uncultivated state, shifting away from the centuries-long practice of controlling and managing nature for human need,” rewilding in urban areas could manifest in initiatives from building parks on empty land, to incorporating biophilic design where possible. Research by Yale University found that immersion in nature is an antidote for stress, and that cities as well as businesses are increasingly aware of dwellers’ desire for access to green spaces. Cities such as Singapore, Nottingham in the United Kingdom, and Harbin in China have gotten a head start; could other cities around the world follow suit?


Creative placemaking, or employing strategies based on arts and culture to promote social change and improve the built environment, is another interesting approach to rethinking our communities and cities. Typically involving partners across a range of specialisations, placemaking can help transform neighbourhoods into places of beauty and culture while promoting local heritage and sustainability.


Spurred by creativity from all parties and expertise from designers, architects, and urban planners, our future cities could become safe, sustainable, and vibrant, all at once. The possibilities are endless if true collaboration takes place.


The key speaker line-up of this year’s Summit for the related topic includes:


  • Francine Houben - Founding Partner of Mecanoo (The Netherlands)
  • Zhu Pei–Founder - Studio Zhu Pei | Dean, Professor, Central Academy of Fine Art, School of Architecture
  • Robert Greenwood - Partner, Managing Director, Snøhetta (HK)
  • Thomas Heatherwick CBE - Founder of Heatherwick Studio (UK)
  • Prof. Winka Dubbeldam - Founding Partner of Archi-Tectonics NYC | Miller Professor & Chair of Weitzman Architecture of University of Pennsylvania (US)
  • and others


Stay tuned for BODW2021 SUMMIT. Let’s Reset @BODW2021!



Global Design Reset: A Primer of Business of Design Week (BODW) 2021