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The CBDs of the future

The CBDs of the future

Explore the plans

  • Infrastructure
  • Liveability
  • Productivity
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A city supported by infrastructureInfrastructure
A collaborative cityCollaboration
A city for peoplePeople
Housing the cityHousing
A city of great placesPlaces
A well connected cityConnected
Jobs and skills for the cityJobs
A city in its landscapeLandscape
An efficient cityEfficiency
A resilient cityResilience
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Reports of their demise are exaggerated


The tech sector is likely to displace financial services companies that relocate their employees. Yet more flexible, distributed working patterns could smooth stressed road and public transport capacity, generating higher long-term economic activity and productivity. Cities also have new freedom and opportunity to reimagine their purpose and cater for different uses.

What seems clear is that CBDs of the future won’t just be places where people work. Rather, they have potential to evolve into vibrant 24/7 mixed-use districts – with commercial, cultural and recreational offerings enjoyed by residents and visitors alike. A potential catalyst involves transforming underutilised or obsolete space in aging office blocks.

The tech sector is likely to displace financial services companies that relocate their employees. Yet more flexible, distributed working patterns could smooth stressed road and public transport capacity, generating higher long-term economic activity and productivity. Cities also have new freedom and opportunity to reimagine their purpose and cater for different uses.

What seems clear is that CBDs of the future won’t just be places where people work. Rather, they have potential to evolve into vibrant 24/7 mixed-use districts – with commercial, cultural and recreational offerings enjoyed by residents and visitors alike. A potential catalyst involves transforming underutilised or obsolete space in aging office blocks.

A Renault Garage in Paris CBD as of May 2021 being converted into 70 homes and other micro-industrial uses.

In some cities, this is being unlocked for entrepreneurs, creatives and artists, and other experimental uses, supported by new arrangements between tenants and landlords.

Barcelona, for example, is turning one of its historic post office buildings into a technology incubator for 150 startups and 1,500 workers. The storeys above ground floor retail are suited to host libraries, creative studios and leisure facilities such as gyms.

As major city retailers and department stores come under further pressure from online shopping, vacant spaces may be replaced with more hangout areas and experience-based malls.