How millennials are triggering drastic shifts in the urban landscape

by Ofentse Sefolo
How millennials are triggering drastic shifts in the urban landscape

With baby boomers (1944 – 1964) slowly starting to retire, the business realm is flooded with Generation X (1965 – 1979) and new-age millennials (1982 – 1993) who in particular, are transforming the way in which the world works, triggering drastic shifts in every aspect of daily living from the food we eat to the politics that we practice. Is it for the better? If so, why? We investigate.


Millennials prefer to use public transport as long as it flows seamlessly. “The ease with which millennials use public transport to move around is another generational difference compared to older generations who largely prefer travelling in cars, and better planning and policy are required to support this,” says Ross Donnelly, Senior Civil Engineer at Aurecon in Australia.

It goes without saying that millennials’ penchant for public transport bodes well for our ever-suffering environment. Hopping on a train or a bus as opposed to starting up a car means fewer carbon emissions and is great news for global warming in general.


Along with snapping selfies with their food for Instagram and various other social media channels, millennials are paying much more attention to the food which they are consuming. It’s not just about beautifully plated and presented dishes – it’s about the quality of the produce on the plate.

“Millennials are more willing to pay a premium for organic, specialty and local produce. As a result of this, and from using drones, infrared, GPS technology, robotics, automation and biotechnology, the farming and manufacturing industry is, and will continue to be, an exciting place in which to innovate and thrive,” comments Ross.


With millennials playing such a large role in today’s society, it’s about time they ‘took a seat’ at the political table too. According to Ross, “Governments, policy makers and city planners need to reimagine their role in society and to take a collaborative approach that adjusts to the new urban imperative and captures the millennial zeitgeist.”

Helsinki, Finland’s capital city is a great example of a city that is already doing this. Authorities are readily making use of Maptionnaire, a community engagement tool helping planners to engage residents through map-based questionnaires in an effort to find out more about their younger residents’ opinions, wants and needs. They are then using these findings to help shape their ten-year city master plan.


It is no secret that the cost of real estate continues to soar across the globe, ultimately making it more difficult for younger people to invest in property early in life. “Because of this, renting and co-housing with friends, families and even strangers is becoming more appealing to the young adults who are studying and working in cities,” says Ross.

Home-sharing is becoming increasingly popular with millennials and helps to solve a number of a community’s problems in the process. In Europe and many areas of Australia, home-sharing between a younger person and a much older person is common. The younger person benefits from a cheaper living situation, while the older person gains companionship and resolves feelings of loneliness.

The urban landscape is forever changing, and currently, whether we like it or not, it is being moulded by millennials. How do our communities keep up and effectively solve the problems of the next generation? By embracing a new collaborative spirit of design. “One that galvanises the millennial’s digital wizardry and Gen Z’s entrepreneurial spirit, and uses their voices to craft our urban areas – to make them resilient and forever young,” concludes Ross.

For more information, contact Aurecon on +27 (12) 427 200 or via www.aurecongroup.com, and check out their award-winning blog Just Imagine at www.justimagine.aurecongroup.com.

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