What will the Europe’s built environment look like in 2050?

By Anna Dukhno
July 08, 2019

What do we need to do to address the building challenges of the future? And what will Europe’s building stock look like in 2050?

These are two critical questions posed by a new report by consultancy Arcadis, supported by the European Mineral Wool Manufacturers’ Association (EURIMA) of which Knauf Insulation is a member.

The study, The Future of the European Built Environment, examines how all Europe’s buildings — from residential to utility buildings — are expected to be shaped in the future by eight essential characteristics: being climate resilient, flexible-use, connected and cognitive, performance-focused, enabling 24-hour working and living, contributing to the circular economy, energy positive and supportive of healthy lifestyles. The study focuses on how these developments will evolve by the years 2030 and 2050.

“No one knows what the future exactly holds. Nevertheless, we look at trends and examine new developments today to define business strategies and to develop policies and regulations for tomorrow,” says the report.


Figure 1. The eight essential characteristics shaping the future of the built environment in 2050


The study also demonstrates how those eight essentials have their origins in five significant drivers in Europe: climate change, urbanisation, population changes, a new focus on health and resource scarcity.


Figure 2. The future of Europe is shaped by trends and developments inside and outside Europe


Additionally, three enablers, technology (digital), finance and policy/regulation, will accelerate developments and stimulate progress or provide rules within which the trends can further develop.

Vincent Briard, Sustainability and Regulatory Affairs Director at Knauf Insulation, said: “Any study about the future is inevitably open to challenge and interpretation. However, this report is significant because it helps us identify how and why our buildings will change and what we need to do to meet those challenges in the future.”

The publication of the study was accompanied by Eurima’s action plan Better Buildings for a Better Future which highlights key policy recommendations for two critical areas — building renovation and sustainable building stock in the European Union.

Katarzyna Wardal, EU Public Affairs Manager at Knauf Insulation, said: “Buildings are a vital component of everybody’s life — after all we spend 90% of our time inside them. So, it is essential that we make them future-proof. This Action Plan highlights recommendations that will make a significant difference to Europe’s future challenges from climate change and resource scarcity to the growing impact of urbanisation.”


Arcadis is the leading global Design & Consultancy firm for natural and built assets. Applying deep market sector insights and collective design, consultancy, engineering, project and management services, the company works in partnership with clients to deliver exceptional and sustainable outcomes throughout the lifecycle of their natural and built assets. The company employs 27,000 people, active in over 70 countries that generate €3.3 billion in revenues. Arcadis supports UN-Habitat with knowledge and expertise to improve the quality of life in rapidly growing cities around the world

EURIMA is the European Insulation Manufacturers Association which represents the interests of all major mineral wool producers throughout Europe. Eurima members manufacture a wide range of mineral wool products for the thermal and acoustic insulation and fire protection of domestic and commercial buildings and industrial facilities. Eurima was established in 1959 to promote improved standards and regulations for the use of insulation materials. More recently, it has developed to reflect the growing environmental concerns of society.