London Summit blog cover

My first PAN European Summit by Class of 2020 | Blended Living

Have you ever heard of blended living?

It’s a new concept that indicates a lifestyle in which living and working spaces lose the single definite function and their boundaries, indeed, blend.

ADAH work in coworking

This is a topic that interests me a lot. I left my home country 6 years ago and have lived in 4 different cities and developed projects in about 11 since. I also changed 6 homes and worked in the most diverse places (from domestic sofas and beds to corporate offices, shared co-working, airport lounges, hotels, cafes, bookshops and so on). You could say that I know how to make myself feel at home easily anywhere. As long as I find a good wi-fi, tasty food, comfortable/functional furniture, and an inspiring environment.


The blended living’s trend

It looks like I’m not the only one. A large and increasing share of Millennials and GenZ are embracing this lifestyle.  At Greystar Investment they already define this group ‘active adults’. The definition is fitting. According to their research, this is a well-defined group of people who constantly travel for work. They also want (and need) to be connected at all times and interact with local communities in each new place. All of this while still keeping every comfort.

That’s why, when I heard about the PAN European Summit organised by Class of 2020, I knew I had to attend. The conference focused on the future of the real estate investment sector and the development of alternatives through blended living.

Class of 2020 blended living

The Summit was at The Broadcast Centre (Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park) on Monday, 24th February. Three were the topics that intrigued me the most: Alternative investments, Flexibility and Management.


What are ALTERNATIVE investments?

Alternatives are blended living models with mixed uses. One example is OurDomain, a very ambitious project by Greystar aimed at active adults. It’s a large development that includes over 1,700 units and several facilities. A medical centre, a supermarket, restaurants and cafes, lounge areas, study areas, gym, 24-hour security, and game rooms. The tenancy period is between 3 months and 5 years and the demand so far exceeded the expectations.

blended living value proposition

Alternatives rely on the efficiency and cost-effectiveness of having all the services included in one package. Very much like it already happens in some serviced accommodation developments, but with more additional facilities, and services. Most of all, they aim at different kinds of demographics. They intend to create a space that satisfies the needs of both young professionals and students.


FLEXIBILITY is the new rich

One main challenge that the investors face then is the long-term performance of the buildings. How are they going to resist for many years in such a fast-changing market and cater to such different target customers? Here is where flexibility comes into play.

This was one of the most interesting points raised in my opinion. The buildings need to be flexible and the panellists explained how serviced buildings such as PBSA (purpose-built student accommodations) are a lot more flexible than residential buildings, therefore they represent a less risky investment.

To find examples of PBSA click here and have a look at our portfolio

plan drawings

This is mainly because it is easier to convert PBSAs to hospitality buildings like hotels, senior living or co-living. Their structure is more easily adaptable to fire security regulations of commercial buildings. Also, the layouts and the whole mechanical and electrical equipment like heating systems are more suited for a potential conversion.


The Real value will be in the Property Management

The third compelling topic was about Property Management.

While in traditional living or working spaces a Property Manager has limited functions (in terms of variety) such as ensuring that the facilities are kept up to standard and working well, in serviced accommodation and even more in blended living this role is crucial.

With this new kind of development, it won’t be the intrinsic value of the building that creates a profit. The Managers instead create it by developing and nurturing a community through the promotion of a healthy and active lifestyle.

These might include group activities, workshops, courses as well as simply raising awareness on important issues. This, in turn, would help the development of a real sense of belonging and commonality with other members of the group.


Naturally, to me, this is really important because interior design is necessary as well to achieve all these objectives!

Well-conceived and on-brand interiors can help in conveying the values of a community and enhancing the sense of belonging, but also define the flexibility and functionality of a shared space, which is at the core of this new lifestyle. That’s why interior design has become such a relevant part of this developing market.


In conclusion

This summit was an enlightening event to attend to. It was great to get an understanding of how the growing generations are shaping this market with their living and working habits and the innovative solutions that professionals develop to cater to their needs. Ultimately, the blended living trend could reflect in our daily life too in the future.

I hope you find this subject interesting too. There were many more compelling topics and I will share more in the coming weeks!

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I am Martina, an Italian designer based in London. I spend most of my time designing interiors or writing about it. I also love travelling. You may find me walking around the East End of London, drinking coffee and stopping at every single bookshop I bump into.

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