By Danni Addison, Victorian CEO of the Urban Development Institute of Australia (UDIA)


 New technology, 20-minute neighbourhoods, driverless cars, apartment living… the future is here and now.

Australian cities have evolved greatly over the past few years. In Melbourne especially, we are seeing unparalleled population growth, which will continue to change the face of the city and provide new opportunities for modernisation, innovation and sustainable growth. For the housing industry, that means delivering homes which look beyond life as we know it. As we enter the Year of the Dog, it’s never been more important to consider how our rapidly changing built environment will alter what people want and need from their homes.

Changing resident needs are at the forefront of developers’ minds, evidenced by the array of constructions across Australia that offer unique features and modern conveniences not before seen in residential developments. We’re looking forward and thinking about how projects of the future; innovations such as driverless vehicles, intuitive traffic lights, 20-minute neighbourhoods, remote workplaces and vertical schools; will advance the city landscape, and we’re learning to embrace those new opportunities to make the most of them.

For everyday Melburnians, this means greater possibility and choice as to how and where you want to live, and a greater say in what it is you want; for developers, it means a shift in mindset is required to be able to find new and innovative ways to appeal to purchasers living in a rapidly changing environment.

What are the most revolutionary changes coming our way?

Self-driving vehicles: Autonomous vehicles could radically change the way we relate to travel time, particularly when it comes to travel between our home and place of work. While many think of the daily commute as time wasted, the ability to get in a car and do something other than drive it could change all that. If autonomous vehicles create an opportunity for people to work in a quiet space en route to work, it’s likely that the distance between one’s home and place of employment won’t be such a key consideration in the future.

Apartment living: A good example of change we’re seeing now is the shift away from wanting to own a quarter acre block and four-bedroom home. Nowadays, a significant number of home buyers are opting to live in a smaller, low maintenance, inner city dwelling located in the heart of the action. While some of that demand is driven by relative affordability, the emergence of contemporary apartments can also be attributed to some of the great innovations making headway in the apartment market. Developers are starting to integrate features such as communal dog parks and shared vegetable gardens within their projects, making apartment living more attractive than ever.

Ground-breaking technology: Disruptive innovations such as social media and digital technology present real potential for us to foster smart, dynamic and intuitive communities. Buildings which can sense occupant needs and self-tune accordingly, smart traffic signals based on real-time data, and 3D printed buildings which can be delivered in under 24-hours – these advents will transform the way we live, move and interact with each other.

20-minute neighbourhoods: 20-minute neighbourhoods have been identified as a key component of the Victorian Government’s plan to guide the growth of Melbourne to 2050. The idea is to include all the daily necessities – amenities such as jobs, schools, childcare, shops, open spaces and healthcare – within a 20-minute walk, cycle or local public transport trip of Melbourne homes. To effectively realise this concept, we will need to make better use of existing land, which means creating more multi-purpose areas and embracing density as a feature of the way we live, work and play.