Rise of the 15-min City

The concept of a 15-minute city where every amenity is reachable on foot or by bike within 15 minutes is catching on.
The COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated how human, social, economic and environmental influences have made a deep impact on our lives. According to a survey from the World Economic Forum, people are looking for communities where commercial, residential, institutional and humanitarian real estate are in the same districts and neighbourhoods.
The concept of a 15-minute city that originated from Paris is a great example of how city planners have taken an inclusive approach and prioritised the pedestrian or cyclist being able to access everything they need within decentralised neighbourhoods. These are designed around the individual rather than vehicles.
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This will be a trend that we will see evolving across the globe as city dwellers place connectivity and accessibility above all other factors. They will benchmark their decision of where to live by ensuring all their essential neighbourhood amenities are reachable within 15 minutes on foot or by bike.
Investing in placemaking
In a sense, this falls within the sphere of ‘placemaking’ which primarily focuses on the people and community. Various stakeholders can take an active role to collectively reimagine and reinvent public spaces to help strengthen the connection between people and the places they share. There are opportunities to maximise shared value if real estate owners can curate complementary concepts to increase footfall and enable the neighbourhood to take on a new vibrancy.
Individuals are constantly looking at their ‘quality of life’, even more so in the wake of the pandemic where they now want to have their homes in neighbourhoods that have thoughtfully designed public spaces that integrate live, work and play facilities.
A vibrant neighbourhood can boost property values, rental yield, and business revenues. It is through a concerted effort to attract partners, businesses and vendors to be part of a synergistic ecosystem that real estate owners can truly build vibrant neighbourhoods.
Building for the future
As a result of the global pandemic, people have spent a large part of the past two years confined mostly indoors with work from home regulations. This has heightened the awareness of how deeply we depend on each other. Our surroundings and the sense of community have been proven to be beneficial for an individual’s overall mental wellbeing.

Owners and operators that take a responsible approach to protect the world in which we live in are likely to see success in attracting and retaining tenants and businesses. People with easy access to recreational areas like parks and other outdoor amenities, and safe places to work and play, would naturally gravitate towards choosing to stay on in the same place rather than move away.

Flexibility, connection, sustainability and a sense of camaraderie and purpose are integral for a people-focused real estate approach to building resilience for the future.
Designing multi-faceted neighbourhoods can help futureproof businesses whose livelihood depends on customers, especially F&B and lifestyle services operators. From adapting spaces to make them safer, or curating experiences and concepts that focus on addressing the real needs of all stakeholders such as thoughtful touchpoints, these will endear them to residents and future buyers.
With companies increasingly looking to lease or own buildings that support their sustainable goals, more can be done to regenerate neighbourhoods with active reuse and integrating sustainability into the real estate life cycle.
Singapore’s Central Business District’s shophouse precincts exemplify how environment sustainability and heritage conversation can benefit the wider community as the historical neighbourhoods of Singapore’s past now have become vibrant micro-hubs. There, businesses from different backgrounds converge and shape the personality of their neighbourhoods.
Trends of the future
2022 is set to see a strong revival of real estate markets across Asia Pacific having seen transactions within the region surpass USD40 billion in Q3 of 2021, up 12% year­on-year and roughly the same as in the third quarter of 2019. Other notable trends to watch include well-being as a key value proposition for the real estate industry, the adoption of flexible working arrangements, the rise in co-living boosted by a search for more affordable housing options, and above all, a focus on user experience, will all be of huge importance.
In short, the “liveability” of where people choose to stay has now formed a crucial part of decision-making as they seek out neighbourhoods that meet their day-to-day needs with interconnectivity and an ecosystem that reduces social isolation. Stemming from a need to improve their health and wellbeing, and increase outdoor physical activities, there is hence a spurt in demand for more green and recreational public spaces, preferably within 15 minutes away. APR


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