The well reported fourth industrial revolution is under way. Unlike the first three, which took advantage of innovations such as the steam engine, electricity and automation, this one will leverage digital technology and connectivity to raise income levels and increase quality of life.
It is already changing lives and careers. How we live, work and play. But also the places in which we live, work and play. It is, quite literally, shaping our cities.
Take Lisbon’s Upper Riverfront, as an example. The very area on which, until recently, you’d find little more than the remnants of Lisbon´s participation in the previous three industrial eras, is now asserting itself as the center stage of this new revolutionary one.
At the northern tip: Parque das Nações, reinvented at the turn of the century, it has since fully consolidated itself as Lisbon’s CBD2. With claim to being the second highest average income parish in the country, it is home to tech and telecom titans such as Microsoft, Huawei and many others.
Heading south along the riverfront, you will find the creative heart of the city beating out of the the renewed factories and warehouses of Beato and Marvila from the 19th and 20th century. Once abandoned or forgotten, these are now occupied by buzzing startups, scaleups and cowork spaces, where coders, engineers, designers and digital dreamers of all origins come together.
Combined, these adjacent sections of the city expect an influx of approximately 20.000 high-earning professionals in the short to mid-term.This is where the next chapter of the city’s history is being written. International investment from a wide diversity of profiles and sources is pouring into the area, to the tune of over €3.5B in the Marvila parish alone. Sustainability and quality of life for workers and residents alike, is at the forefront of concerns for all stakeholders involved, including the municipality itself. Returns will follow.
The process in ongoing and irreversible, and the transformation is already becoming quite visible in several places, currently none more so than the Renzo Piano designed Prata Riverside Village. Where the old arms factory of Braço de Prata once stood, this award-winning development is bringing new apartments, new retail concepts, and, of course, new residents to the area. Right next to it, new leisure facilities and public infrastructure such as the highly rated Parque Ribeirinho Oriente are attracting unprecedented attention to this previously neglected section of prime riverfront.
As in all transformations, the first few pioneers who arrived at the end of last decade gave way to a larger group of early-adopters, now quickly followed by a much larger, mainstream group.
Over the next few years, given how much everybody wants what everybody wants, Marvila will just become a more modern, functional, comfortable, fun, efficient and sustainable part of our capital, projecting it into an exciting future. A new “industrial 4.0” part of Lisbon to work in, to live, to enjoy, to invest in, to be inspired by - with outsized gains on all counts. Now here´s an revolution we can all get behind.