Vision by MUUAN

Lifestyle-driven Housing

Lifestyles, living situations, and the concepts of family and household are diversifying. In the future, living solutions will be based on lifestyle rather than on the lives of the average person. The increase in diversity and conversion flexibility in the housing stock makes the city resilient, serving both individuals and community.

Lifestyles 2100

The world is urbanising at an accelerating pace. Cities are growing and densifying. At the same time, lifestyles are becoming more differentiated and fragmented. Different family or household configurations are becoming more diverse. Lifestyles are also breaking away from demographic frames of reference. Not all senior citizens walk with a cane, not all families with children own a car, and not all students party. Age and life situation are not precise indicators of lifestyle – even if these cannot be completely decoupled.

Climate change mitigation and the prerequisites of sustainable urban design, housing, and living add to the challenges of design work. A sustainable future sets an operational framework for housing. Adding personal living space is no longer an option to enhance standards of living.

House-hunting in the future

When looking for a home, the search criteria are often related to location, number of rooms, floor area, house type, and price range. If one only includes the most basic few parameters – city, price, and minimum floor area – the options might be in the hundreds. What if you could include a parameter of lifestyle in your search? Location and the number of occupants living together are major factors impacting people’s housing choices.

Location is often linked to everyday needs regarding access to work, hobbies, and proximity to friends and family. Location is also closely tied to perceptions of a certain area: many search engines offer a postcode filter.

The number of rooms or overall floor area are connected to the number of people living together and the desired spaciousness. However, this information is not yet a clear indication of the layout of a residence, or if the spaces are able to support the demanded lifestyle-related activities. Are the dimensions right? Does the apartment and the building block match one’s own lifestyle?

In 2100, lifestyle parameters will help in the search for a home. These may include the relationship with nature, the relationship with privacy, everyday logistical needs, or activity levels. These parameters help to distinguish the most suitable ones of various horizontal options.

Diversity and the formation of bubbles

If the housing market is divided according to lifestyle, there’s a risk that social ‘bubbles’ may begin to form. To prevent segregation, it is essential to keep the size of a single bubble small. Targeted units the size of a building or a block do not make an entire area unilateral, but serve to enrich the environment, creating local diversity. Small communities of interest also provide an opportunity to broaden the perception of a city: for example, a block of active urban farmers residing in the middle of a concrete suburb can lead to the flourishing of the whole neighbourhood by allowing one block to radiate into its surroundings.

Conversion flexibility and multifunctionality

It is a practical impossibility to anticipate all possible future lifestyles, needs, and values. A need for flexibility and versatility in housing development is therefore called for.

Conversion flexibility means resilience. The convertibility of housing enables modifications to be made as life circumstances change, for example adjusting the number of rooms as the family grows or shrinks.

The conversion flexibility of a housing block means that common spaces can be transformed to host different uses: for example, a commercial space can be converted into a communal living room, or a car park into an indoor gym. The multifunctionality of a residence is reflected in the adaptability of its rooms to multiple uses – such as a living room doubling as a home office. In a building block, multifunctionality can, for instance, refer to a club room that is a yoga room on one day and a space for children’s birthday parties on another.

Sense of urban community

Shaping a sense of community creates inclusion and reduces loneliness. This in turn improves quality of life and creates happiness. Yet often the creation of a community feeling in a city is a game of chance.

Lifestyles can serve as the baseline for building community. When the residents of a block share a similar lifestyle, they are more likely to find a connection. Passions, hobbies, shared views, interests, and values create a bond. In a dog-loving neighbourhood, pets are seen as family members – and no one minds a bit of barking.

One size does not fit all

In order to develop housing solutions, the residents must be placed centre stage. There is no single remedy for responding to the housing design concerns of the future – but flexibility and taking into account different lifestyles are definitely crucial factors. If the aim is to solve housing with a one-size-fits-all solution, the result will be a meaningless average that serves only a few users. What works for one may not work for another. Diversity in housing creates options, including the horizontal options described earlier, which are not linked to location or price.  When looking for a new home, what if you didn’t filter your search by room number and neighbourhood – but instead focused on the details of your household-dwelling unit and your desired lifestyle?

Housing development should not be thought of from a purely technological-economic point of view. Solutions must be considered in a multidisciplinary way and conventional thinking must be challenged. What was thought of as functional housing in the era of unified culture in the 1950s will not serve the modern city-dweller of the 2020s – let alone the residents of the year 2100. There is no point in looking for a single answer in future housing design; rather, we need to cherish flexibility and the accommodation of different lifestyles.


MUUAN is a future-oriented design agency. We are driven by a passion for design and have an interest in our shared living environment and the continuous change in our way of living.

The core of MUUAN’s services includes architectural planning, strategic land use planning, concept design, service design for the built environment, and interior architecture.

We are signatories of the Architects Declare Finnish chapter and members of the Green Building Council Finland (FIGBC) – meaning that we are committed to pursuing sustainable solutions with our design activities.


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