If there’s anything to be learned from recent history, it’s that change comes rapidly and often, from unexpected places. Amid shifts that are sure to occur, there’s never been a more important time to keep tabs on forecasts and emerging consumer behaviors that can ultimately influence the bottom line. With this in mind, here’s a few trends that caught our eye:

Civic Data: Municipal services like water and traffic management rarely provoke passionate discourse. But, some cities are taking a page from the Wikipedia playbook and open-sourcing data in hopes that public feedback will spawn the next innovation in urbanism. For example in Syracuse, New York, a ‘civic data hackathon’ brought new ideas, solutions and even resources to the City’s recurring challenges with road improvements. By giving citizens a greater voice in their local governments, cities from Los Angeles, California to Jackson, Mississippi and as far off as Pune, India are taking advantage of this high tech approach to community engagement.

Homeware Hospitality: The evolving and blended boundaries of the retail world are now transferring to the hospitality sector, which is positioning to benefit from becoming ‘shoppable’. As such, home goods companies are expanding into the lodging business, hoping to cash in on consumers’ desires for lifestyle brands. Restoration Hardware kicked off the trend last year by announcing plans for a hotel in New York City. West Elm is set to open properties in Detroit, Michigan and Savannah, Georgia. And, Parachute Home, the bedding retailer, opened a one-room ‘hotel’ in Venice Beach, California. As consumers increasingly value experience over possessions, the extension of homeware to hospitality affords guests the opportunity to experience their favorite brands in real time.

Year of the Train: In many parts of the world, railway travel appears poised for an upgrade in 2017 and beyond. Luxury trains in Japan, South Africa and Ireland are infused with contemporary design and feature well-appointed cabins and communal areas with rich cuisine offerings. These upgrades reflect a growing appetite for nostalgic journeys that include the thrill of high speeds and spectacular scenery. For experiential tourists, travelling by train is more about the journey than the final destination.

The Luxury of Scent: Scent continues to emerge as an essential element of design and brands are using this medium to tell a story. One Thousand Museum, a 62-story residential building in Miami, Florida will include no fewer than four separate custom scents, each designed for specific parts of the building. An orange blossom aquatic center recalls a seaside European vacation, while the fitness center exudes earthy notes of cut wood and juicy citrus. From commercial buildings to international airlines, signature smells represent the next level in creating sensory environments that impact emotional well-being.

It has always been our goal, through the dissemination of this eReach, to provide you with valuable insights and thought provoking perspectives to spark creative strategies. We hope these topics encourage innovative thinking and discussions about a new and exciting future.

For more information, please email us at info@edsaplan.com.

The new campus for the Instituto Técnico Superior del Este Panamá (ITSE) will be one of most environmentally sensitive universities ever built. Designed as a net-zero energy source, the total amount of power required to sustain the campus will equal the amount of renewable energy created. With no electricity drawn from the city’s grid, officials plan to use the site as a showcase for responsible development – where land preservation and a greater empathy for the environment are highlighted.

The project’s emphasis on sustainability and innovation required a unique approach to site development. By creating a smaller overall campus footprint, the design minimizes site grading and disturbance to the existing typography, preserves 95% of all trees, aids in water conservation, filtration and purification as well as respecting flood plains and wetlands.

Inspired by geometries, circuitry patterns, and local ‘mola’ art, the cultural and natural context of the site takes center stage. EDSA’s design calls for 50% of the 10.6 hectare site to remain open space with thoughtful articulation of each building placement defined by orientation and arrangement of the terrain and land forms.

As part of the design competition, EDSA’s proposal for the educational campus included siting of building and structures as well as layout, hierarchy and character of plazas, park and green spaces as well as centralized pedestrian zones and vehicular circulation.

As 2016 came to a close, EDSA team members gathered together for our annual retreat – a day of team building, learning and social engagement. This year we shook up the status quo, partnering with several charities to raise social awareness and take a closer look at basic human needs. We tailored our activities around life’s necessities like water, food, shelter and healthcare – opening up a venue for exchanging ideas, recommitting to embracing our greater purpose, and engagement in some well-deserved fun. By far one of our most meaningful retreats to date. Check out our video recap – created in partnership with C&I Studios – for an inside look! edsaretreat2017