Blended Living: How are the ways we live, work and learn blending?

British Architect and Programme Director Ryan Manton talks about The Class of 2020’s upcoming conference in Berlin. The Amsterdam based think-tank will explore the blurring boundaries between living, working and learning environments in global university cities.   

Educational institutions, employers and the real estate sector are all finding ways to innovate in the spaces of living-working-learning. We observe the emerging cocktail of these efforts in the urban campus, where the civic university connects to business through start-up incubators, living research projects and co-working spaces. The ‘co-revolution’ itself has expanded beyond co-working and co-living to include urban third-spaces, communal education, childcare and district level master planning. Intergenerational co-living schemes blend young and old to form mutually beneficial relationships. In times of political uncertainty and in post-Brexit Europe, higher education institutions blur geographical boundaries by partnering with foreign cities to establish branch campuses. Amidst all of this, mental health and loneliness during times of transition continue to be a major challenge on everybody to address – from universities and accommodation providers to designers.

Our experience has shown that making the most of these blends requires a collaborative approach. There are no one-size-fits all solutions for the global housing crisis, talent attraction and retention, mental wellbeing, urban regeneration or innovating higher education. Instead, these complex and contextual issues demand stakeholders of all types to come to the table to share solutions, establish partnerships and imagine a more user centred and sustainable future. The rate of change in the lifestyles of university students and young talent has accelerated immensely in the past decade. Gone are the days of siloed education and career paths defined spatially by homes, offices and university libraries. The digitization of education and work, the inaccessibility of housing for young people and less linear career trajectories have given rise to a new generation of globally minded talent eager for experience-driven lifelong learning. Investors, developers and operators are concentrating on providing more flexible housing models with shared facilities at their core – investment in purpose-built student accommodation (PBSA) and coliving continues to gain traction.

Founded in 2011, The Class of 2020 is a partner-based think tank for the future of living, learning and working in university-cities. Based in Amsterdam, we run our global non-profit on 4 main pillars: Events, Research, Academy and Advisory. Our focus is on the way’s talent is living in cities and how this is shaping the urban campus; the ecosystem in which students, universities, corporates and cities co-create. We advocate for community collaboration and provide thought leadership on the future of university cities. Our vision is for cities to attract and retain the brightest young minds, and for them to lead the way to social and economic success in return. At the Class of 2020, we were originally inspired to explore the role of the purpose-built student accommodation (PBSA) industry in shaping urban ecosystems for living and learning. Approaching 2020, these are exciting times for the industry, as we observe a blend between student housing, co-living, short stay concepts and hospitality all contributing to more diverse options for accommodating individualized young urbanites. The Class of 2020’s upcoming conference in Berlin will explore the blurring boundaries between living, working and learning environments in global university cities.

Attending the Conference

The conference on Blended Living to be held in Arena Berlin from the 6th to 7th November will bring together the real estate industry, higher education providers, policy makers and city governments with a range of enterprises connected or interested in the future of living, working and learning. The conference aims to inform, challenge, inspire and provide networking opportunities with the most important leaders in the field.

For more information regarding the conference please visit: