Editor's Letter: The Age of Integration


The editor of our June 2019 Firestarters publication describes the holistic nature of real estate with technology and how everything is ultimately being connected.


I remember when I was a teenager I was hugely impressed when I heard or read somewhere that “body and mind” are one. This meant, for example, that illness had psychological rather than physical causes. Mind-blowing that was.

Nowadays I think most people will agree that illness, unfortunately, can also be simply bad luck, but no one will deny that our state of mind can affect our physical well-being profoundly. We are holistic creatures.

A similar kind of realisation to the one I had in my teens may be washing over the real estate sector today, but applied to cities – even entire societies. We are becoming aware that building and city are one. That you cannot have a good building without a good city and vice versa.

In fact, it goes even further. There is growing awareness that everything in real estate is connected to everything else. Not just buildings to cities – but investment to environment, maintenance to sustainability, automation to well-being, innovation to happiness, retail spending to social relations – and so on.

“Boring retail is over”, says one of the real estate experts in an interview in this magazine. I would add: boring life is over. People want a better life. Not more stuff, more connection. We are holistic social creatures.

If you read the stories in our latest Firestarters magazine (published in late May/early June), you will find evidence for this trend everywhere. Let me just pick out a few quotes from our interviews and you will see what I mean:

• “We try to work in an integrated way across different disciplines, combining urban planning and public space with architecture”
• “We are seeing a big shift from the individual developments of 10 to 15 years ago, in which communal areas, food and transport were not taken into account, to a more integrated approach”
• “When I ride my bicycle through the city and I see that something we did really works, then I feel I have made a positive difference”
• “McDonald’s wasn’t looking for a smart building. They wanted to attract new types of staff”
• “Today’s hostile tendering process must be replaced by a collaborative approach”

Or, as Zach Aarons and Aaron Block, authors of a new book on proptech, sum it up: “It’s about a new mindset!”

We are living, I believe, in the Age of Integration. I hope as you read through this magazine you will become more and more excited about what this means for your own work.

Thank you for your interest.

Karel Beckman, editor-in-chief