This paper examines demographic, economic, and sociotechnical trends to the year 2050 that will shape future demand for buildings. It uses historical data and projections from the United Nations and other authoritative sources. The paper finds that it is likely that there will be more people, hence more or larger buildings in some regions. People are living and working longer, older people are becoming a macroeconomic burden, and proportionally fewer children are entering the demographic pipeline, all of which will contribute to smaller household sizes and allow more floor area per person, while also placing a premium on user-friendly and accessible buildings. International and rural-to-urban migration will continue to cause episodic shortages of affordable housing. Continuing urbanization will place buildings in increasingly larger, but not necessarily denser cities. Economic activity and inequality are likely to continue growing, thereby supporting much new building construction, while potentially failing to deliver adequate amounts of affordable housing. The changing energy price mix for buildings is likely to favor electricity. The occupational mix is likely to continue changing, leading some workers to become more mobile and others to enjoy more leisure time, albeit with great disparities across countries and occupations. Flexibility is likely to be prized in future commercial buildings, and residential buildings will continue to be used intensively for both work and leisure pursuits. Smarter buildings will need to remain user-friendly for occupants, even as an emerging transhumanism augments personal capabilities. Each of these factors will influence the amount and qualities of shelter we will require, the home/workplace split, the functions required of future buildings, and the energy and environmental footprints of buildings.

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