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The interpretation of this pixel image lies in the eye of the beholder. Where one person sees a symbol of digitalisation in the arrangement of 1 and 0, another picks out the precision and aesthetic appearance of a façade.

Movement, conversion, metamorphosis. These are just some of the synonyms we use for the word transformation. When focussing on the positive connotations, this continuous change is the driving force behind the development required to remain viable in the future. This transformation takes place at different levels. Social transformation processes influence politics and economic and social systems, from organisational structures to cultural notions.

This is evident, for example, in the way in which we think about future town planning, where former brownfield land is being given a new lease of life and becoming a nucleus for further developments, as shown by the Westlink Cube and Tower projects in Zürich and the newbuild for the RAG­Stiftung, which manages the legacy of the Zollverein coal mine in Essen.

The most famous symbol of the transformation of a city is the High Line park in New York. Where the disused tracks of an elevated freight line once stood, there is now a beautiful, inner­city park to be enjoyed by all. Photo: Iwan Baan

Everyone is talking about the Digital Transformation. The move from an industrial society to a service economy and then an information society will have far­reaching consequences for the construction sector and the building industry. Digitalisation is permeating our day­to­day lives and demanding new skills when dealing with digital media. But at the same time, technological and cultural progress is creating enhanced working environments, processes and hence new business models. Knowledge is becoming a new currency; the accessibility of which is also influencing the built environment. A window to the future is offered by the »Futurium« exhibition centre in Berlin, which presents scenarios for the world of tomorrow.

More and more, networks and clouds, artificial intelligence and robotics are changing our way of thinking and producing. They permit different lifestyles and usage models which would not be feasible without collective intelligence. Much of this is certainly still a long way off, but the current generation is responsible for setting the course for the future. Let yourself be inspired now as you read about the pioneering topics and projects.

Robot colleagues. Machines are becoming more intelligent and are changing our working environments. Photo: BigBlueStudio
New technologies encourage cultural change. The combination of the real and artificial world is telling a new story. Photo: plainpicture/Blend Images/Donald Iain Smith

Words: Eva Maria Herrmann