If there’s one thing that everyone has learned in the last few months, it is that the world can change at a moment’s notice. While there will certainly be more surprises to come in the future, a few things are certain, including population and climate change.
How will humans change the way they build to tackle these challenges? and How can fire safety be maintained in the buildings of the future? These are some of the key questions.
Ageing global population
The world’s population is ageing. The number of people over 60s is projected to reach nearly 2.1 billion by 2050, outnumbering people aged 10-24 years by approximately 100 million. Population ageing is the inevitable result of development. Generally, humans enjoy better healthcare, lower mortality and morbidity rates, better education and improved chances of survival.
Fertility rates are falling, too. People are having fewer children on average, pushing the average global age even higher. A lot of this is really good news, better health and survival of the species into old age is a fantastic achievement, but it’s loaded with challenges.
How to care for an ageing society? How to fund pensions? And most importantly, How to ensure independent living for the ageing population?
More accessible buildings for people
There are already many housing developments being created with accessibility as the primary focus
With age comes slower or reduced mobility. There are already many housing developments being created with accessibility as the primary focus, to help seniors live independent lives. Building regulations now specify accessibility requirements for this very reason.
Some developers are even opting for kerb-free streets, lined with luxurious bungalows, envisioning a possible future of accessible suburbs.
Future buildings to rely on compartmentalization
In denser areas, expect to see fewer stairs in public spaces, wider entrances and shallow ramps, as well as a greater number of large elevators in multi-story buildings. Open-plan will become widespread in new developments and future buildings will rely more on compartmentalization from fire curtains as a result.
Ageing affects hearing and vision, too. Signage and public address systems will have to adapt accordingly. Adaptations will have to extend to everything, from public transport to restaurants and bars. These changes will give accessibility and inclusivity to disabled people of all ages too, giving more people than ever the opportunity to work, travel and enjoy public spaces.
Climate change and COVID-19 pandemic effects
The grim specter of climate change is currently in the shadow of the global COVID-19 pandemic. It won’t stay there for too long, though. Just because emissions from transport have been significantly cut due to lower vehicle and people movement, this doesn’t mean the problem has gone away.
In fact, it’s highlighted just how important food production is and how fragile infrastructure can become in a crisis. Climate change is happening rapidly and humans are not able to reverse the damage. So it is inevitable that at some stage, humanity will have to face new daily living challenges wrought by it.
Changing building design to make cooling sustainable
One of the possibilities is the creation of underground cities to shield humans from extreme weather
Rising temperatures could make conventional buildings unpleasant (or impossible) to inhabit without air conditioning, even in places where air conditioning is rarely needed at present. Building design will have to change to make cooling sustainable, because the cruel irony of air conditioning is that it actually contributes to further global warming through its astronomically high energy usage.
One of the possibilities is the creation of underground cities to shield humans from extreme weather, blistering heat and polluted air. However, in the timescale that humanity is looking at for climate impact, there may not be enough time or resources to achieve this.
Fire safety in enclosed spaces
In the buildings and complex structures of the future, fire safety will be more important than ever. A population with reduced mobility and age-related disabilities will need proper safeguarding from structure fires, which could be running rampant as climate change makes wildfires more common.
Coopers Fire is at the forefront of sustainable fire protection solutions. They are constantly developing products to stay at the cutting edge of fire safety.