Before we can build the future we must imagine it. So we asked some of the property industry’s rising stars to take a trip with us to 2030. Are they optimistic or overwhelmed by what lies ahead?
Whether it’s big data, BIM or blockchain, drones, digital or driverless cars, artificial intelligence or augmented reality, the future is coming at us – and fast.
“Agility, innovation and entrepreneurial zeal” are the key ingredients to navigate the exponential change ahead, says Freya Mulvey, an associate with law firm Squire Patton Boggs.
Digital disruption and smart technology will “drive efficiencies and maximise comfort and value” in our buildings and cities, Mulvey argues, pointing to lightweight building materials, automatic monitoring systems and augmented reality inspections as examples.
Automation will “streamline and customise” real estate from end to end – from agent and brokering through to conveyancing and removalists.
“To compete with digital disruption I think we will see traditional real estate and property finance services partnering to provide a competitive value proposition, eliminating disintermediation, and focused on customer service and transparency,” Mulvey adds.
Digital disruption is front-and-centre for Knight Frank Newcastle’s sales and leasing executive Michael Boom. By 2030 the physical inspection will “still play a role”, but virtual reality headsets will become ubiquitous and will provide a “very realistic experience”.
Digital platforms for advertising will “dominate” as hard copy mediums “transition” to provide digital exposure, Boom adds.
“I also predict that property searches via mobile will become even more prominent.” So, get set for an army of proptech start-ups building experience-intensive apps.
Offsite brings opportunities
Rebecca Pierotti is a senior project engineer with Lendlease. She says the pressure on the construction industry to build faster on tighter budgets will drive exponential change, especially as advancing technology supports safer offsite construction.
“We will still need all of the roles and professions currently in place, as much of what we do is communicate and problem solve – and that will never be replaced by technology,” Pierotti says.
But day-to-day tasks will be very different in 2030. Pierotti points to construction methodologies, like 3D modelling and prefabrication, that will “mean less work needs to occur in sequence on a construction site, speeding up the program and reducing high risks tasks, like work at heights”.
Pierotti is also optimistic that sustainable construction will be business-as-usual by 2030. Expect greater focus on materials selection, recycling and lifecycle assessments that consider embodied energy during construction, she says.
Industrial goes up
With expertise in industrial property, it’s no surprise that Jarrod Poort is keeping a close eye on a sector being reshaped by automation, e-commerce and population growth.
A commercial sales and leasing associate with MMJ Real Estate Wollongong, Poort thinks “we’ll see the rise of multi-level vertical warehouses in high-density areas, like South Sydney, where there are clear supply and demand imbalances”.
Self-storage facilities will also flourish in these high-density areas, Poort predicts. “And we may also start to see strategic strata title purchases of older, outdated industrial assets to gain majority share in order to implement a collective sale or redevelopment proposal.”
Knight Frank’s Boom agrees. “There will be ever more pressure on land rates in our capital cities, and warehouse users will be required to be very efficient with their space or go vertical.” Ultra-high warehousing is already found in Asia, and with Sydney expected to have its first multi-storey warehousing as early as 2020, the only way is up.
Places for people
Tegwen Hunter, an assistant project manager with APP, points to a series of global megatrends – climate change, ageing demographics and population growth among them– that will influence urban denizens in 2030.
“One in four Australians report feeling lonely. Design in 2030 will need to feature essential communal spaces – parks, entertainment hubs, social precincts – to bring people and communities together,” she says.
Emily Allen, a project planner with Hunter-based Barr Property and Planning is also thinking about places for people, and one of Australia’s perennial ‘barbecue stoppers’: housing affordability.
While government leadership is required to shift the dial on this issue, Allen says developers and councils can invest in “thoughtfully-designed quality outdoor areas” now to support the “denser housing” we can expect in 2030.
Getting people “out of their homes” to socialise and connect would support better health and wellbeing, and “may lead people to not expect or need such large homes,” Allen says.
“Australian homes have the largest footprints in the world. This is not sustainable, and we need to shift the focus to smaller, cleverly-designed housing with quality open spaces.”
Renee McGuinn, an architect with Wollongong-based Edmiston Jones, is focused on the future of our regions. “With urbanisation of big cities transforming them into mega cities I often ponder what happens to our regional centres?”
An integrated plan that connects Australia’s regions with its large cities is central to the nation’s future, McGuinn explains. She adds that there is potential for her home, the Illawarra, to be a “gateway” that connects with the “ambitious” Western Sydney aerotropolis and beyond.
“The ongoing challenge of Australia’s regions is to show the cities why they need us. The benefit of looking forward is that we have time to develop policy and act now. I think our regions are up to the task.”