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  • Writer's pictureLuca Orefice

Breaking New Ground: Changing the way we live, work and play

Everyone wants to get enjoyment from where they live, like what they do for work and have fun play. Sometimes people think of these as separate things and they must be done in isolation, however as the world progresses forward the lines between how we live, work and play are becoming ever more blurred – in fact as you will see in this blog, I believe you can’t think of any of them in isolation anymore. This means that we need to go back to the drawing board when it comes to designing appropriate spaces for people on a large scale. The way that we live, work and play has a huge impact on our wider society and communities that we create, therefore a lot of thought needs to be put into the design and development of these spaces and ensure it is done sustainably. In this blog I will be looking at how young leaders and entrepreneurs who are passionate about how we live, work and play are forging ahead bringing their vision for integrated communities to life.

The Future Mavericks: Overcoming our housing crisis

Housing needs are always going to be a problem with an increasing population, people living longer and an out dated planning policies and mentality. This means that we are having to get creative about how we help house people, however this isn’t just a reflection of the needs we have but the desire of young people and how they want to live. They way we work has drastically changed meaning more and more people are able to work from anywhere in the world from their laptop. This naturally affects the way in which we wish to live and play, the BBC reported that “Since the start of the 21st Century the population of many town and city centres has doubled in size, while the population of the UK has increased by 10%” showing the staggering influx of people who have been drawn back to city centre living. However this sudden surge of people has meant that most cities have struggled with providing quality, modern and sustainable places for these people to live.

Fast growing City Centre populations: According to the Office of National Statistics

The main driver of this? Young people, according to the same BBC report “The number of 20 to 29-year-olds in the centre of large cities (those with 550,000 people or more) tripled in the first decade of the 21st Century, to a point where they made up half of the population.” This is a huge shift and as we have explored in previous blogs the differences in experience and expectations of young people to those of previous generations has drastically changed, meaning that these city centres have had to be open and able to adapt their city to cater for these people.

Of course, city centres also have an important social and psychological significance beyond their economic role. A bustling, vibrant city centre is often a source of civic pride. A struggling city centre can become a symbol of broader social problems and decline. This is why people care so much about the future of their city centres and want to see them thrive. Article Edited by Duncan Walker (BBC)

There also doesn’t seem to be any stopping of this trend with the UN predicting that globally 68% of the world population projected to live in urban areas by 2050. This is a daunting number of people which will be reliant on vibrant city centres, where they can live, work and play. There is no way that our current urbanisation policies which look at homes as well as infrastructure could ever cope with this influx, so who will be helping solve the issue? A new breed of urban designers with knowledge on how people actually want live.

Who is this new breed?

This bit is quite easy for me because I can use what we do as a case study. Along with the team, we at higgihaus create comfortable, convivial and achingly stylish accommodation designed to engender a feeling of contentment and well-being.

#teamhiggi (I am the 2nd from the left in case you wondered…)

Well-being is really important to us in what we do, which is why all of our spaces are designed with it in mind. On top of this one of our main reasons for existing is to help curb the epidemic that is chronic loneliness amongst young people. Why is this important? Well we are one of the most connected generations ever yet on one level we are the most unconnected there has ever been. According to an article by the independent;

Two-fifths (40 per cent) of people aged 16-24 say they feel lonely often or very often, compared to 29 per cent of 65-74-year-olds and 27 per cent of those aged over 75, according to a nationwide survey. Independent

There are some pretty huge flaws in our society and we want to do our bit to make the world a better place, so are challenging the conventional way we thinking about living, working and playing within society and are trying to encourage greater cohesion in how we interact with each other. It is starting to be well understood that the younger generations struggle the most with loneliness as highlighted by the survey. We believe that one way this can be combatted is by creating spaces that foster a community environment with plenty of communal space and social space as well as ample private space for people to enjoy when they do want to have their own space. Check out our latest example here!

I think the article summarise the issue of loneliness amongst people very well when it goes onto say;

The findings fly in the face of the stereotypical image of a lonely, elderly person, with some experts suggesting that young people feel loneliness more intensely because they are at a life stage of discovering who they are. Between the ages of 16 and 24, people generally go through a time of identity change and of learning to regulate emotions, which can lead to a feeling of isolation. Independent

What I find most interesting in the above quote is that “they feel it more intensely because of trying to discover who they are.” This resonates so much with me because I have also and still occasionally struggle with this very point. What do I do when I feel this way? I pick up the phone and speak to my parents or grandparents – they are able to give me perspective on life and somehow make me realise that I shouldn’t be obsessing over some ‘destination’ but chunk up the future and take it step by step. I am really grateful that I can do this and the thought of not being able to have those conversations really makes me think because I appreciate that some people can’t do this and don’t have those people in their life.

Therefore this is one of many reasons behind our long term vision at higgihaus which is a concept we have coined ‘Through life social living’. What does this mean? Well we have all seen the benefits of putting young children (3-6 years old) with older retirees / people in care homes / in assisted living – higgihaus through life social living looks to take what has been learned there and build on it by integrating all generations in a village type campus with large emphasis placed on communal spaces that people form all the generations interact and integrate with each other so that they can learn from, develop and benefit one another.

This isn’t a new concept, place in Asia have done this for years albeit on a smaller scale but families would often live together in large houses with multiple floors allowing everyone to have their own space but communal areas for them to all interact. My own personal experience of this is also not new, having grandparents who were born and raised in rural part of southern Italy, multi-generational family living is not new to me. It is more common than not for families operate in this way and we feel the benefits are exponential. So if you couple this age old concept with modern design, smart planning and a focus on how people will interact with each other, we believe that a higgi-village will revolutionise the way we live, work and play for the better of society.

Why I wrote this blog

Naturally I am being bias here but I believe one of our largest issues as a human race is to figure out how to make the way we live, work and play better and fit for the 21st century and beyond. Technology will always come and go and will no doubt continue to take away some of the what we currently do as humans. However, one thing will never be taken from us and that is the way we interact with each other on an emotional level – so I believe facilitating environments for us to have these interactions is essential to our progress and contributing to solving the epidemic that is loneliness.

There are some fantastic videos which talk about loneliness, my favourite video that summarises why people feel lonely and how it can be combatted can is summarise really well by Baya Voce in the video below, check it out and let me know what you think.

The Simple Cure for Loneliness – Baya Voce

She summarises that being lonely comes from not having an ‘anchor of connection’. This is a fascinating concept and makes a lot of sense to me, as I have often felt lost and lonely but having a ritual and anchor of connection as I can now coin the term, makes so much sense. When I think about what we are doing at higgihaus, we are effectively creating that sense of a community as the anchor of connection, spaces that facilitate this connection and enable integration with others!

Coming up…

In next weeks blog I will be exploring how young leaders and entrepreneurs are Breaking New Ground within the complex industry of medical technology and how this technology is helping us live longer more fulfilled lives. I will be looking in depth about how young leaders and entrepreneurs are creating amazing companies and products which are solving some of our greatest issues in this field.

Are you doing something that is Breaking New Ground within the the way we live, work and play? If so get in touch I would love to hear from you.

Thank you for reading and until next time, Be More Maverick.


  1. June 14, 2019

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