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Theo Priestley - 3D printed homes could become the answer to affordable housing #Edinburgh2050

26 November 2018

For our latest #Edinburgh2050 blog, Futurist Theo Priestley (46) shares with us what he thinks the future holds for Scotland's capital... 

The 2050 Edinburgh City Vision is an incredibly exciting prospect for the capital and I’m really excited to be working with Marketing Edinburgh as part of it.

I’ve been a futurist for the better part of ten years and, in that time, I’ve conducted talks all over the world and worked with various companies to help plan ahead for the future, or to stay ahead of the curve. The 2050 Edinburgh City Vision is doing just that. Aside from my professional interest in the campaign, I’m Edinburgh born and raised and so I’m hugely interested to see how the city is going to develop over the next 32 years – and if my predications for the capital as part of the project are correct.

Becoming a futurist, or a foresight consultant, requires an insatiable curiosity, and a need to question the world around you. The belief that nothing is too wild. I’m constantly reading up on what else is going on around the world, and looking out for patterns and trends, to try and predict what may happen and I’ve used this approached with the City Vision campaign. I can already see a number of things that Edinburgh is doing really well, which I believe will contribute to a more sustainable, cleaner city. The aspirations are already there.

I looked at how much the city has changed in the last 30 years, and where technology trends could lead us in another 30. By paying close attention to what Edinburgh's residents have already been saying, some key themes became loud and clear. I combined these elements to project them forward, envisioning a city that was fair, sustainable and exciting.

Through my research, I have three key predictions for Edinburgh in 2050 – and personally I hope they will all become a reality.

I believe 3D printed homes will become an answer to affordable housing, popping up from Granton Waterfront to Wester Hailes. These homes will have sustainability at their core, built with recycled materials, and using renewable energy that is rerouted back into the home. They will be accessible to all, bridging any gaps in social housing.  

In fact, Dubai has just announced that by 2025 it wants at least 25% of all new buildings in the city to be 3D printed, so we’re already moving towards this reality. Nothing is farfetched.

I predict Princes Street will be largely pedestrianised by 2050 – making it greener, more citizen friendly and an even more enjoyable place to be.

I believe vertical farming will become commonplace by 2050. With controlled climates, we’ll be able to grow any number of crops from anywhere in the world. There could even be a Scottish champagne blend of grapes grown here – who doesn’t want more fizz! Much like allotments or community gardens, the people of Edinburgh can get involved to contribute towards this fairer, greener, more sustainable society.

But those are just my thoughts. No matter what technologies may exist in the future, a city is only as strong as its people and it's important to listen to them, which is why I’d encourage every Edinburgh resident to seize this opportunity and submit their vision for the future.

I can’t wait to see the outcome of the 2050 City Vision, and what people will say. And, of course, to see if I get it right.  

What do you think Edinburgh should be like in 2050? Have your say edinburgh2050.com.