Greg Lindsay's Blog

April 30, 2018  |  permalink

reSITE Sneak Peek: Cities as Luxury Goods?


(Ahead of reSITE 2018 ACCOMMODATE in Prague next month, our media partners at Citylab published an interview with myself and reSITE founder and chairman and founder Martin Barry. Please find it republished below.)

Housing has been identified as the number one issue of today’s cities by leading architects and planners, Teddy Cruz, Jean-Louis Missika, and Carl Weisbrod – all keynote speakers at reSITE events over the last three years. That’s where the theme of the reSITE 2018 Accommodate event, June 14-15 in Prague, begins. For this annual event, reSITE is inviting fifty international guests to explore the challenge and its solutions from all angles, including planning, design, technology, and new economic and social models of co-living and cohousing. Greg Lindsay, guest curator of reSITE, and Martin Barry, reSITE’s founder, speak about the theme of the upcoming June event.

Q:What do you define as the most pressing housing challenges cities face today?

Martin Barry: From Bordeaux to Belfast and Tokyo to Tel Aviv, cost of living has become one of the most pressing puzzles of our generation. As cities face increasing challenges to fund affordable housing solutions, we need to utilize new technologies and diverse partnerships. We need to build more and build closer to city centers or transit hubs. We need do it in a way that can open alternative ownership models that provide higher quality housing at affordable costs and a flexible structure. Increasing supply simply isn’t decreasing cost. If cities want to remain competitive, they should look no further than ensuring that people can find a good and affordable place to live.

Greg Lindsay: It’s become clear that the most beloved qualities of our cities have transformed them into luxury goods, and a process that started in London or New York a decade ago is trickling down into one city after another. Having a “right to the city” means having the right to live in the city, and that’s why we need new strategies, technologies, and protections to build homes for all of us. We need to build more housing where people want to live; we need to do it without the mass displacement of the people who live there now, and we need to stop financializing it.

Q: What are the new and expected trends related to housing and living in cities?

Greg Lindsay: As an American, I think it’s interesting that the dream of a single-family suburban home is receding for rich and poor alike. Soaring home prices coupled with stagnant incomes and austerity are leading some to reconsider collective housing, while at the very high end of the market, “co-living” offers wealthy residents housing as a membership club. Why pay a lease or a mortgage when you can sign up for a room in one city and then float to a luxury building in another? Home ownership has become either an unattainable ideal or a drag, depending on your tax bracket.

Martin Barry: Student housing in Europe is trending and there is a need, with over 7 million international students in 2020, compared with 4.1 million in 2014. However, the market in cities like Amsterdam, Lisbon and London will soon be saturated with ultra-luxury student apartments, which are more like 5-star hotels than the creaky flats that I lived in when I was in school. It’s a great sector for us to pilot new types of housing alternatives, because younger people have different expectations about how they want to live in the future city. We can test new ideas of co-living and intergenerational living as part of this trend.

Q: Why do we need to cooperate across disciplines?

Greg Lindsay: No single discipline or profession can solve this challenge. We need to rethink in parallel the design, construction, financing, and use of homes if we have any hopes of creating better cities. Simply building more housing isn’t enough; neither is designing a more beautiful or practice house, or finding ways to build them more cheaply, or with less money down. We need to think holistically and discover how one solution might reinforce another.

Q: What are your program tips for reSITE 2018?

Martin Barry: Alternative ownership, financing and regeneration models are driving the conversation about housing around the world. We will expand upon each of those at reSITE this year. Jeanne Gang is a practicing architect and a MacArthur Fellow, whose work at a recent MoMA exhibition “Foreclosed: Rehousing the American Dream” will be a highlight. Reinier de Graaf’s first book “Four Walls and a Roof,” will be revealed at the event, where we expect him to lambaste apathetic architectural ideals and explain that architecture will always be flawed as long as humans conceive, create and build it.

Greg Lindsay: An emerging theme is top-down plans for large-scale regeneration — such as LSE Cities’ Richard Burdett and his role in remaking east London following the 2012 Summer Olympic Games — versus bottom-up craftsmanship, as demonstrated by the Turner Prize-winning architects of Assemble and the Mumbai-based research group URBZ. Resolving that tension productively will go a long way toward achieving our goals for housing.

reSITE 2018, the annual international forum showcasing better solutions for our urbanized world, sponsored by CityLab, will present 50 international speakers from 30 countries including architects Jeanne Gang, Michel Rojkind, Sou Fujimoto and Reinier de Graaf. Over 1,000 audience members including architects, planners, bottom-up innovators and municipal and private sector leaders will also attend on June 14–15, 2018 at Prague’s Forum Karlin.

To register and learn more, including about reSITE’s “Women Make Cities” discount promotion, which is available for all the women in architecture, design, NGOs and city leadership, visit

About the event:
June 14-15, 2018
Prague, Forum Karlin
Register at

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Greg Lindsay is a journalist, urbanist, futurist, and speaker. He is the director of applied research at NewCities and director of strategy at its mobility offshoot CoMotion.  He is also a partner at FutureMap, a geo-strategic advisory firm based in Singapore, a non-resident senior fellow of The Atlantic Council’s Foresight, Strategy, and Risks Initiative, and co-author of Aerotropolis: The Way We’ll Live Next.

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