THE CLASS CONFERENCE 2019
The past decade can be considered nothing less than a miraculous one in human innovation. More ideas and products have been realised than any decade before, with greater flows of people, goods, and services between cities, countries and continents. In this new, global world-order, life goals and work preferences are changing too.
It is impossible to ignore the changing role of cities and pivotal importance of universities and knowledge institutions. Urban living increasingly is characterized by transience and inclination to constant change. Human capital and talent attraction are the driving force behind urban advancement in a competitive order of global cities. The fast changes in modern society are turning our lives in a permanent stage of becoming, and increasingly blurring the environment around us.
At The Class of 2020, we have been investigating the future of urban living, working and learning for a footloose generation of international talent. The recognition of the co-revolution being a natural progression for the student living sector inspires us to explore all the blends young people encounter in their living experience. While physical realities meet virtual spaces; the European market is witnessing both an institutionalization and a blurring of PBSA as asset class, embracing innovative lifestyle specific and hospitality-driven living products. The urban campus is the ultimate mash-up of higher education and novel ways of working and living together. Digitalization is disrupting our perception and experience of space, and creates learning ecosystems beyond proximity.
We enjoyed exploring these topics together with you and 800 other thought leaders in real estate investment, development and operations, international higher education and city leadership.
Dr. Philipp Bouteiller
SITE TOURS — DAY ONE
Once again, we kicked off our conference with our popular Inspiration Site Tour. This approximately four-hour journey took participants behind the scenes of some of the most unique spaces within Berlin’s talent ecosystem and helped frame the key narratives of the conference. We explored everything from traditional German student accommodation and new PBSA developments to co-working spaces, startup incubators and a university campus. Locations included: CIEE Global Institute, The Student Hotel, Quarters, The Fizz – International Campus, Neon Wood, and Holzmarkt25.
THE CONFERENCE — DAY TWO
During the conference, The Class of 2020 will explore various topics in relation to the theme, Blended Living, including:
- The Student housing markets and the future of PBSA (models) in Europe and beyond
- The Co-Revolution: co-working, co-living, micro-apartments
- New concepts for blending intergenerational living
- The Urban Campus methodology; innovation hubs and talent ecosystems
- The rise of branch campuses: new talent geographies in post-Brexit Europe
- Funding the University of the Future: real estate as a leverage
- The digitalisation of higher education and work; the role of tech and platforms
- ResLife and Mental Health – need-to-know for operators and student living professionals
- Community building and placemaking: from the dorms and beyond
- Models for affordability; fostering inclusive cities and communities
With almost 20 panel discussions throughout the day held on three stages simultaneously, The Class Conference 2019 clustered multiple approaches to all the above challenges and opportunities into seven key takeaways:
Community is key
Each residential community is unique in its needs, wants, and demands.
To emphasize this point, the industry needs to stop thinking of generational groups as homogenous with the same needs and wants – alternatively, effective housing solutions will consider the mindset of residents, no matter what age group they fall under.
Operators are putting people first when it comes to community building. They are understanding the importance of activating space and community by empowering residents within it to share their own unique interests and connect with each other.
Affordability is demanded across the urban living sector
Housing affordability is a major issue for global cities. On The Moment for Coliving is Now panel, affordability was highlighted as the main appeal for prospective residents. To combat the affordability challenge, developers can consider new construction techniques, such as prefabrication to save on building costs and speed up the building process.
Operators can rethink their approach to amenities and luxury offerings. Based on resident feedback in coliving spaces, affordability trumps amenities. Varied opt-in/out options can also include more affordable choices for residents.
The value of branding
In tomorrow’s generation of global citizens, experience will continue to be valued over ownership. In addition to visually pleasing environments, residents are making more conscious decisions about company ethos when selecting their accommodation. Companies that are transparent with their offerings are more attractive to potential residents.
The added value of branding for investors remains marginal while portfolios sit relatively small in the continental market; however, given the projections shared at the conference, we can expect branding to become increasingly important as portfolios grow.
Reform outdated policies
Planning is lagging market trends nearly everywhere. Reforming building regulations based on historic precedents will enable innovative design to be approved – smaller, well-designed spaces with communal areas will help to increase density. However, planning also needs to continue to measure and control the quality of living environments to ensure the quality and sustainability of housing meets future demands.
Innovation and technology are driving building efficiency
Technology is not an add-on anymore but a full cycle driving force: from design and conceptualisation to construction and maintenance. In order to maximise the value of space, we need to be flexible and adaptable with design and embrace sustainability as a necessity. Smart technology can help us collect data and make data-informed decisions and enhance human experiences.
Learning is evolving to adapt to changing market demands
Learning pathways and higher education are changing rapidly. In the global knowledge economy, people need to reinvent themselves more than once in their career. Flexible learning pathways and tech enabled online learning will provide greater access to the skills needed to do so. This will require us to keep an open mind about what is meant by ‘campus,’ while keeping an eye on the technological and design needs of learning and living spaces.
Collaboration to shape the future of urban living
The Class Conference 2019 on Blended Living brought together around 700 urban innovators, educators, designers, real estate developers, operators and government officials. With an estimated 25 billion euros of current and future investment in blended living typologies onsite, there is substantial opportunities to shape the real estate industry in a blended, collaborative and more flexible direction.