COLLABORATION

Mega collaboration hopes to tackle the global affordable housing crisis

SOURCE: Florian Wehde/Unsplash
With rapid urbanisation, cities are struggling to meet affordable housing demands.

Rapid urbanisation and income growth across the globe have led to an increased demand for affordable housing and a shortfall in supply, a phenomenon cities everywhere are struggling to fix. 

recent survey found that out of 200 cities polled around the globe, 90 percent were considered “unaffordable”, according to a commonly used standard of average home prices being more than three times the median income. 

Continued failure to meet housing demands will hamper productivity and economic growth, the result of dwellers either forced to live in substandard housing or in homes well outside their affordability range, thus putting a major squeeze on their personal finances.

Five years ago, it was predicted that the problem would see a third of urban dwellers, or the equivalent of some 1.6 billion, struggle to secure decent housing by 2025.

Today, market observers have yet to paint a better picture.

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More and more, city planners and developers are exploring solutions to these urban challenges, including harnessing new technologies to create smarter, more efficient cities.

But with so many factors involved from population growth to availability of land, the state of financial markets and socioeconomic issues, solving the problem would require a multi-agency, multi-disciplinary and perhaps even a multi-government approach. Rome wasn’t built in a day, as the saying goes.

Affordable housing
A third of the global population are said to be struggling to find good, affordable housing. Source: Shutterstock

This is likely the thinking behind Planet Smart City’s ongoing effort to form a global network of partners to work on innovative solutions for affordable housing. According to a recent release, the real estate extraordinaire is bringing together the world’s best minds in architecture, engineering, industrial design and a slew of other disciplines to find a way forward.

In an announcement, the firm confirmed signing on its latest partner–the Polytechnic University of Turin (PoliTo) to help its cause. The agreement is said to be the most comprehensive of its kind for Planet Smart City, with both partners to collaborate on joint research and technology transfer to develop new solutions to build better and more affordable housing. 

The partnership will involve all the university’s departments, as well as international activities such as events and forums that promote scientific and technological innovations.

In addition to that, the firm will contribute to educational development at PoliTo by offering internships and training for its students and researchers.

The firm is already one of the supporters of the university’s TECHs 4 Change master’s programme, through which students learn methods and technologies to address issues highlighted by the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

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The university joins a growing network of Planet Smart City’s other university partners, including the Bocconi University of Milan and the Institute for Advanced Architecture of Catalonia of Barcelona.

Commenting on the collaboration, Planet Smart City Founder and CEO Gianni Savio said with 1.6 billion people living in unsafe and overcrowded housing, there was an urgent need to find better ways to build, maintain and live in the world’s cities.

“Finding innovative solutions is at the core of our drive to provide high-quality affordable neighbourhoods around the world,” he said.

“Intelligent answers can only be reached through collaboration between researchers and professionals, which is why this partnership with the Polytechnic University of Turin is of such strategic value.”

Guido Saracco, Rector of the Polytechnic University of Turin, added: “Our goal is to establish and support networks in the public and private sectors that contribute to the growth and spread of knowledge on issues facing people in cities around the world. Planet Smart City, which has integrated a culture of innovation throughout its business model and established its competence centre in Turin, is an ideal partner for this ambitious project.”

According to Planet Smart City Chief of Research and Urban Planning Graziella Roccella, the firm plans to pursue more such partnerships with institutions in countries where it operates, including in the UK, Brazil and later, India.

“Our goal is to establish a global network of partners working to improve the quality and affordability of life in cities around the world through new technologies and approaches to urban design and construction,” Roccella said.